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India, Japan enters cyber-security deal on 5G

India and Japan have finalised an agreement on cybersecurity to boost cooperation on 5G technology and critical information infrastructure, besides pledging to work for a free and open Indo-Pacific with diversified supply chains. The readouts issued by India and Japan after a meeting between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, in Tokyo made no mention of China, though many of the issues discussed by them appeared to be a response to Beijing’s actions across the region. The proposed agreement will promote cooperation in capacity building, research and development, and security and resilience in critical information infrastructure, 5G, Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence.

External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi smile at the start of their luncheon meeting at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct. 7, 2020

India and Japan on Wednesday welcomed the finalization of a draft cyber security agreement that will promote cooperation in key areas such as the 5G network and Artificial Intelligence.The announcement in the agreement followed the 13th India-Japan Foreign Minister’s Strategic Dialogue between Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and his Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu in Tokyo.

“Two Ministers … welcomed the finalization of the draft cyber security agreement. The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and sustainability in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among other things, ”

A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs. (MEA)

However, it did not specify what role each country would play under this agreement. The announcement is expected to draw the attention of stakeholders in the Indian 5G sector as it prepares to open up to overseas operators especially as there is uncertainty about the presence of Chinese technology officials in the 5G platform.

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An ironclad initiative with diverse ambitions

A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday welcomed the agreement, with an official statement saying the two sides would share information on combating cyber security threats and devise joint measures to reduce threats to telecommunications (ICT) infrastructure. The two sides will also work together for cyber security in international organizations such as the UN.

Ministers “have emphasized that the Indo-Pacific free zone must be made up of various and strong chains; and in this context, we have embraced the provision of resources between India, Japan, Australia and other like-minded countries”, the department added.

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The ministers met a day after parting with their Australian and American counterparts at the second Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Ministerial Conference, which called for a constitutional order and a peaceful resolution of the ongoing Chinese conflict across the Indo-Pacific.

Sameer Patil, an international security partner at Gateway House, described the proposed cyber security agreement as important as it will build on existing talks with Japan at a time when both countries face hacking challenges and other threats from countries such as China and North Korea.

“The problems faced by Hitachi Payment Services in 2016, when malware created financial breaches and included 3.2 million bank card details in India, are one example of how cyber security is a co-operative and the only way we can deal with co-operation,”

Sameer Patil, an international security partner at Gateway House

The proposed agreement is also important as it covers critical information infrastructure, including banking and payment systems, telecommunications and internet, nuclear responders and power systems, transport systems such as air traffic control, and water supply systems. “All of this is important for economic performance, respect and community,” Patil said.

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During the course of their talks, Jaishankar and Motegi agreed that the Indo-Pacific had “gained greater intelligence in recent times” and that India and Japan should work together for the benefit of the region.

“Ensuring the similarity of their Indo-Pacific ideals, based on the rule of law and respect for local sovereignty and integrity, the Japanese side has agreed to be a leading partner in the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) link and jointly take the views of both countries on the Indo-Pacific forward”, said the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The IPOI, unveiled by Modi at the East Asian conference in November 2019, has seven pillars — maritime security, trade and connectivity, disaster risk reduction and management, cooperation with science and technology, marine pollution reduction, sustainable use of marine resources, and capacity building.

It said the two ministers affirmed that the two countries will earnestly gratify their efforts for realising UN Security Council reforms as early as possible.

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