India, Japan finalise key cyber-security deal to boost cooperation on 5G, AI
India and Japan have finalised an ambitious agreement on cyber-security to boost cooperation on 5G technology and critical information infrastructure, and the two countries pledged on Wednesday 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 foreign minister 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 cyber-security 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 (AI), the external affairs ministry said.
“Recognising the increasing role being played by digital technologies, the two ministers highlighted the need for robust and resilient digital and cyber systems and in this context, welcomed the finalisation of the text of the cyber-security agreement,” the ministry said.
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A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the agreement, and an official statement said the two sides will also share information on countering cyber-security threats and develop joint mechanisms to mitigate threats to information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. The two sides will also cooperate on cyber-security at international bodies such as the UN.
The ministers “emphasised that a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region must be premised on diversified and resilient supply chains; and in this context, welcomed the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative between India, Japan, Australia and other like-minded countries,” the ministry added.
The ministers met a day after they participated with their Australian and US counterparts in the second ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which pushed for a rules-based global order and peaceful resolution of disputes in the face of China’s growing aggression across the Indo-Pacific.
Sameer Patil, fellow for international security studies at Gateway House, described the proposed cyber-security agreement as significant as it will build on an existing dialogue with Japan at a time when both countries face challenges from hacking and other threats emanating from countries such as China and North Korea.
“The problems faced by Hitachi Payment Services in 2016, when malware caused the breach of financial data and comprised the data of 3.2 million debit cards in India, is one example that shows the challenge of cyber-security is a joint one and can only be tackled through joint collaboration,” he said.
The proposed agreement is also important as it covers critical information infrastructure, including infrastructure for banks and payment systems, telecommunications and internet, nuclear reactors and energy transmission systems, transport systems such as air traffic control, and water supply systems. “These are all essential for the functioning of the economy, polity and society,” Patil said.
During their discussions, Jaishankar and Motegi agreed the Indo-Pacific had “acquired greater salience in recent times” and that India and Japan need to work together for the benefit of the region.
“Reaffirming the similarities in their respective Indo-Pacific visions, that are based on rule of law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Japanese side agreed to be the lead partner in the connectivity pillar of the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) and jointly take both countries’ respective visions for the Indo-Pacific forward,” the external affairs ministry said.
IPOI, unveiled by Modi at the East Asia Summit in November 2019, has seven pillars – maritime security, trade and connectivity, disaster risk reduction and management, science and technology cooperation, reducing marine pollution, sustainable use of marine resources, and capacity building.
Motegi said Japan attaches importance to its strategic relations with India and referred to Tokyo’s Covid-19-related aid for New Delhi, including a 50-billion yen emergency assistance loan and a 1-billion yen grant for providing medical equipment.
A readout from the Japanese foreign ministry said the ministers “reaffirmed the importance of implementing Japan-India cooperation in third countries such as ASEAN and Southwest Asian countries and making steady progress on the high-speed rail project”.
Jaishankar also held a separate meeting with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne. “Reviewed the progress in our bilateral ties after the Virtual Summit between our PMs. Discussed expanding our cooperation in global affairs & regional issues. Will work together more closely in multilateral forums,” he tweeted.