The Japanese and Indian governments have agreed in principle to work together on measures to combat cyber attacks related to the development of 5G technology, with concern on the Japanese side centred mainly on the products of Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei.
The agreement is seen as showing the two countries’ intentions to share information on security-related risks such as the illegal access of data, and prevent the dominance of Chinese products in the vast Indian market.
The two sides will meet in Tokyo for the third round of bilateral talks on cyber issues as early as Wednesday. This is the first time that 5G has been escalated to the main topic of discussion in these talks.
The Japanese side plans to have top officials of the Foreign Ministry and National Police Agency attend the conference, while India is expected to dispatch top officials from its External Affairs and Home Affairs ministries.
At the conference, the two sides are expected to exchange information on risks and other aspects associated with Chinese products regarding 5G technology.
The Japanese government will explain the policy it is adopting this spring to effectively exclude products made by Huawei and fellow Chinese manufacturer ZTE from government procurement, and that it has requested that domestic telecommunications companies give attention to its policies.
The intention is to gain India’s understanding that, as the flip side to the low costs of Chinese products, there are various risks, and to urge India to join forces with Japan.
In Japan, 5G technology, which allows large-capacity data communications, will begin to be phased in by service providers from the middle of this year, while India plans operational testing within the year.
With a population of 1.3 billion, India is on the path to becoming an economic world power. As a promising market in connection with 5G, it is gaining the attention of companies around the world. Huawei is no exception, and against the backdrop of the Chinese government’s “One Belt, One Road” global economic strategy, it aims to penetrate the market.
The Administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, has placed great weight on the Japan-India relationship, as spelled out in the “free and open Indo-Pacific” initiative. At a summit meeting in October, Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to promote joint research on artificial intelligence (AI) and strengthen cooperation on security.
As one aspect of stronger security ties, should India’s communications network be illegally accessed, it would strengthen fears that such a breach could lead to leaks of technology and confidential information of Japanese governmental organisations and domestic companies.
“The security of India’s 5G network is extremely important in order to progress in strengthening Japan-India relations,” a Government source said.