Japan aims to boost cyber-related defense personnel to 20,000 by FY27

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Defense Ministry

Japan aims to more than quadruple its cyber defense personnel while increasing its overall staff dealing with cyber-attacks to 20,000 by fiscal 2027, according to government sources Monday.

According to the Defense Ministry, the Self-Defense Forces currently have about 890 cyber defense personnel, comprising about 540 members of the Cyber Defense Command, established in March, and 350 personnel in the SDF’s Air, Ground and Marine units.

The sources said the ministry will increase this number to 4,000 over five years from the next fiscal year that begins April 2023.

This policy was included in specific measures to drastically strengthen the SDF’s cyber defenses, according to the sources.

The sources said the ministry will reorganize the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Signal School in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and create a new cyber education department.

Besides Cyber Defense Command members, SDF staff in charge of network systems in the Air, Ground and Marine units will also be educated at the school. The plan is to train about 16,000 personnel who will eventually help the nation deal with cyber-attacks.

The National Security Strategy, which will be revised later this month, will specify that the government possesses capabilities to enable active cyber defense to forestall significant cyber-attacks. At the same time, the strengthening of the SDF will be stipulated both in Japan’s national defense strategy and the defense program, both tentative names. The former defines the nation’s defense capabilities, and the latter shows the number of major SDF equipment.

The government plans to create a centralized command organization for cyber defense. The Cyber Defense Command members will concurrently serve that organization to provide support to private companies such as with infrastructure.

The government and ruling parties are studying ways in the future to monitor cyber-attacks in peacetime and to launch cyber-attacks in times of emergency. They aim to agree on the matter soon.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was marked by a hybrid war in which armed attacks were combined with cyber-attacks. Ukraine stepped up measures, with the help of private enterprises, to prevent Russia’s attacks on its infrastructure.

China is said to have 175,000 cyber defense personnel, North Korea about 6,800 and Russia about 1,000. In the event of a contingency in Taiwan, cyber-attacks from China could be launched not only against Taiwan but could also extend to Japan.