Japan Aims to Tackle ‘Disruptive Disinformation’ from Abroad

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno speaks at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday.

The government plans to strengthen measures against the spread of fake information from overseas that aims to create social unrest.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the Cabinet Secretariat intends to develop a system to deal with “information warfare.”

The Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, which collects and analyzes disinformation, and the Cabinet Public Affairs Office, which is in charge of disseminating factually accurate information, will take the lead in working with relevant ministries and agencies.

“Spreading fake information threatens universal values and can negatively impact national security,” Matsuno said. “The government will promote [countermeasures] in an integrated manner.”

Specifically, the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office will collect, consolidate and analyze a variety of publicly available information under the supervision of the director of Cabinet Intelligence.

The foreign and defense ministries will also bolster their efforts to collect false information.

In order to prevent commotion caused by fake data, the Cabinet Public Affairs Office’s international public relations office, under the Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs, will work with related ministries and agencies to disseminate factual information domestically and abroad.

Cognitive warfare has recently been emphasized as the “sixth domain” of operations in addition to land, sea, air, outer space and cyberspace.

States have reportedly become involved in certain conflicts involving information warfare in order to formulate favorable international public opinion toward their country or to confuse their opponents.

In the case of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, false information was circulated claiming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had fled the country. And in August, a fake tweet criticizing Ukraine allegedly written by Nobuo Kishi — then special adviser to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida — circulated on Twitter.

The government is increasingly aware that measures to address information warfare must play a part in its defense capability.

The National Security Strategy, which was revised at the end of last year, states that “a new structure will be established within the government to aggregate and analyze information on disinformation to strengthen external communications, and to enhance cooperation with non-governmental agencies.”

According to a government source, the government had considered establishing a new organization, but decided to use the existing body for the time being.