Official: Secrecy of Communications May Have to Be Compromised in Japan’s Efforts to Implement Active Cyber Defense

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister’s Office

The secrecy of communications guaranteed by the Constitution may have to be compromised on some occasions as the government seeks to implement an active cyber defense, a government official has said.

“From the perspective of public welfare, there are cases in which [the secrecy of communications] should be restricted to the degree that is necessary and unavoidable,” Masaharu Kondo, director general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, said Monday at a meeting of the lower house Budget Committee.

An active cyber defense involves monitoring information systems even during normal times, so as to catch signs of a cyber-attack. Consequently, the balance between security and the secrecy of communications is a key issue.

Kondo appeared to be indicating his intention to consider what conditions the secrecy of communications could be restricted under, such as a case directly linked to national security.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the government is accelerating discussions about related legislation to enable an active cyber defense.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said Monday that confidential information held by the Foreign Ministry has not been leaked as a result of the Chinese cyber-attack that recently came to light.

“We have not confirmed that any classified information held by the Foreign Ministry has been leaked,” Hayashi said at a press conference.

“We are working to enhance security on a day-to-day basis,” Hayashi said.