Japan is rumored to restrict the use of foreign technology for critical infrastructure

Japan will require critical infrastructure operators to address national security concerns when procuring foreign-made equipment. Photo shows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Nikkei Asian Review has learned that Japan will require critical infrastructure operators to consider national security issues when procuring foreign-made equipment. Those who do not comply will be punished in the event of major problems.

The Nikkei says the potential for cyber attacks has increased over the years as infrastructure operators have increasingly relied on digital technology to operate and monitor their facilities. Japan wants to reduce the risks posed by compromised equipment and connections, especially amid growing concerns about data leaks from Chinese-made telecoms equipment.

The Japanese government plans to update procurement laws in 14 critical infrastructure sectors by the end of 2022, which also include finance, railroads, government services and healthcare.

Japan is also required to address the security risks associated with connections to foreign data centers and the use of overseas contractors for business related to customer information.

The Japanese government is expected to monitor companies for compliance and suspend or revoke their licenses if any significant issues arise. Detailed criteria will likely be set out in future government regulations and guidelines.

By requiring stricter security measures, Japan hopes to prevent adversaries from conducting cyber attacks and data theft through foreign-made equipment and connections, and to ensure that only companies that can ensure their operations are protected from cyber threats participate in infrastructure that is critical to daily life in Japan.

Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, such as power grids and telecommunications networks, can cause significant disruptions to public life. Hackers could create disasters such as aircraft accidents and floods by targeting aviation control systems and dams, or attempt to remotely shut down nuclear power facilities. The Japanese government wants to work with the private sector to mitigate these risks.

The Nikkei revealed earlier this month that two leading Japanese infrastructure companies would stop using Chinese-made drones to prevent the Communist Party from gaining access to sensitive data, joining the government’s efforts to curb potential security risks.

Under Communist Party law, Chinese companies cannot escape the control of the Communist government, and the U.S. government is concerned that drones made by Chinese companies could transmit sensitive data to the Chinese Communist Party. For national security reasons, the U.S. Department of Commerce blacklisted Chinese drone maker DJI on Dec. 18, 2020.

Subsidiaries of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) currently use drones, some of which are made in China, to inspect cross-bridge telecommunications cables. These Chinese-made drones will be replaced with products made in Japan and elsewhere by the deadline.

The group company has also begun producing its own drones.

Kyushu Electric Power uses DJI drones, as well as drones made by Japanese and Swiss companies, to inspect ground equipment. We are weighing appropriate responses, including safety risks,” the company said, and will consider replacing DJI drones with Japanese-made drones.