10–11 December 2020
Session 01 | Cyberspace: UK–Japan responses
The UK and Japan have developed a close alliance on matters of cyberspace since 2012. Their cooperation on, as well as their responses to, international issues arising in this area was the focus of the first session of the conference. Masahiro Kurosaki chaired the session and opened the discussion. In his address, he posed a range of questions regarding the two countries’ relationship, its successes and its future. Kurosaki also highlighted the need to promote a ‘free, open, peaceful, fair and secure’ cyberspace amid diverging approaches to cybersecurity at national levels. Kurosaki’s questions functioned as the backdrop to the following discussion.
Jamie Saunders spoke as a practitioner in the field, having held positions within the UK government, as well as business roles in the cybersecurity industry. He focused his address on the importance of bilateral collaboration between the UK and Japan in the political and business contexts. He highlighted three key reasons for the relationship. First, the UK and Japan’s mutual security dependencies: both states are tied by shared military supply chains, business interests in each other’s markets, and by the role of Japanese companies in the UK’s critical national infrastructure. Second, the countries’ shared interest in sustaining an open and global digital economy: the UK and Japan support each other’s positions regarding cyberspace in international forums, such as the UN, G7 and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Third, there are ample opportunities in global cybersecurity that the UK and Japan can explore together. Saunders pointed to the states’ complementary domestic strengths in cybersecurity, as well as opportunities to win joint business in the global marketplace. He concluded by emphasizing the value of the relationship of interoperability, mutual recognition, and development of ‘future-proof’ regulations – policies that foresee technological advances and are apt for dealing with them.
Tomohiro Mikanagi explored the legal aspects of UK–Japan cyberspace collaboration. He commenced his remarks by stating that the countries are ‘natural partners’ given their shared viewpoints regarding cyberspace. He continued by discussing the application of existing international law to cyberspace, the difficulties of this practice, and UK–Japan responses to this. He enumerated three fundamental concepts that pose a challenge to the effective application of existing law: sovereignty, attribution and due diligence. Mikanagi explained that the nature of cyber operations blurs traditional notions of sovereignty transgressions and non-intervention, which tests the applicability of existing law. The UK is very cautious about the violation of sovereignty, which renders this a point of disagreement between the UK and Japan, despite their overarching agreement on the applicability of international law. Mikanagi then turned to attribution. He stated that evidence of cyber operations emanating from foreign territories is hard to obtain, given the common use of proxies. This has destabilized current practices regarding the legal attribution of state conduct. Mikanagi therefore argued for circumstantial, as opposed to concrete, evidence to be admitted in legal accusations. While the UK is said to be more active than Japan in making diplomatic (rather than legal) accusations, they are in agreement on the need to admit circumstantial evidence of cyber operations. Regarding due diligence, Mikanagi highlighted the obligation of states to protect the international community from the action of non-state actors (NSAs) from their territories. This obligation is useful in the cyberspace debate since it deters states from supporting NSAs and using them as proxies for cyber operations. He commented that this was another area on which the UK and Japan agree. Mikanagi concluded by restating the importance of the free flow of data, the application of international law, and the maintenance of a rules-based international order across cyberspace activities.
Emily Taylor deliberated on the 5G debate, and the international standards applied to internet infrastructure. Regarding 5G technology, she maintained that concerns about the security implications are ‘absolutely valid’ in the decision-making process, domestically or otherwise. She cited several reasons: lack of competition in the 5G market, the long-term commitments of infrastructure choices, as well as the nature of cybersecurity. She argued that, when these considerations reach the international level, mostly regarding Huawei, the experience of the UK and Japan have been similar, with both caught in the middle of strident US–China rhetoric. Both states are strong allies of the US in their respective regions, but neither has been willing to alienate China. Taylor moved on to discuss the international standards applied to the internet. In a recent UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) meeting, China proposed a suite of changes to the basic internet architecture (TCP/IP address). Taylor noted that if these changes are passed, the very foundations of the internet could change. Faced with the possibility of a ‘new internet’, Taylor urged that states must establish norms for responsible cyber behaviour. These should be discussed in well delineated forums, to stop the practice of ‘forum shopping on ideals’ – i.e. picking and choosing which conventions to abide by. Finally, Taylor noted the benefits of UK–Japan relations in this context, claiming that its bilateral nature is helpful, given the global drop in confidence in multilateral partnerships. Both countries’ adherence to shared values and voluntary actions have also proven positive, as these dissipate geopolitical tensions and promote peace and stability.
During the question-and-answer session, the panellists agreed on the grandiosity of the term ‘cyberspace’. Saunders aligned himself with William Gibson, who referred to the term as a ‘shared hallucination’. In Taylor’s view the term is sector-specific. She explained that the terminology is not often used in technological circles, but that the policymaking world favoured it for its umbrella-like quality. Mikanagi reinforced this division, explaining that the international law community prefers to avoid the term given its implication of a physical space, which creates difficulties for the application of the existing legal framework. The second half of the Q&A session gave way to a discussion on the importance of maps and geography in a world of virtual connectivity. Taylor first reiterated the importance of geography and topography in the construction of essential internet infrastructure as ‘it is rooted in the ground’. She also addressed the point of data mapping, highlighting the visual value of maps when it comes to organizing the internet. Saunders furthered this by claiming that data visualization enables management, especially in a crisis. Mikanagi made a pragmatic point regarding international treaties, noting that while the internet has made the world smaller, treaties on cyberspace are agreements between countries, thereby rooting them in geography.
Session 02 | Outer space: UK–Japan responses
Session two focused on the key governance and security challenges of outer space. This session was chaired by Patricia Lewis, who introduced the theme through a series of questions: What are the rules governing space activity? What are the latest developments in UK–Japan outer space policies? How can the two countries work together with others to create a secure and peaceful policy that ensures the long-term sustainability of outer space? Lewis then introduced the three speakers, who made their opening remarks.
Daniel Porras highlighted the international debate on how to prevent an arms race in outer space. According to Porras, arms races can be seen in multiple domains, including among delivery vehicle companies, cyber capabilities, social media, and so on. The increased attention given to outer space technology is part of this trend. Porras indicated three markers of an arms race that are present within the space domain: rivalries, corollary weapons and accelerated developments. Regarding rivalries, he noted the low level of trust between powers and their allies. He then pointed to corollary developments in counterspace technology. This can take the shape of anti-satellite missiles, co-orbital drones and vehicles. Next, Porras commented on the acceleration in the development of outer space technology: he cited the heightened interest in military outer space forces, a renewed sense of urgency regarding conflict, and the surge in policies pursuing defensive capabilities in outer space. Interestingly, these defensive pursuits have proven to support technology that also has offensive capabilities. Porras concluded his opening statement by acknowledging the international desire to establish norms for space behaviour. He also commented, however, that there have so far been few achievements in this pursuit, despite the number of international forums and discussions dedicated to the subject.
Following on from Porras’ international overview, Alexandra Stickings offered the UK outlook on the outer space question. She noted that, despite early entry to space activity, the UK has struggled with its identity as a space actor. Throughout its history, the UK has lacked cohesion in, and has not prioritized, its approach to outer space. However, according to Stickings, this behaviour is changing and the UK is now taking meaningful steps to develop its space identity. On the domestic front, Stickings alluded to the Ministry of Defence’s appointment of its first director space, the planned formation of a UK Space Command, and the establishment of a National Space Council. In the international arena, the UK is leading multilateral discussions around behaviours and norms. Stickings claimed these are the actions of a medium-sized space power; that is, a power that lacks the hardware but is diplomatically strong in the sector. Arriving at this position, the UK must now question its future: the potential of its space capabilities, the implications on governance, and the best ways to build on this new identity to form international partnerships. Stickings closed her remarks by drawing a parallel between the British and the Japanese positions as medium powers, commenting that, together, the states could lead the international discussions on long-term sustainability of outer space, which is an exciting prospect.
In the international arena, the UK is leading multilateral discussions around behaviours and norms. Stickings claimed these are the actions of a medium-sized space power; that is, a power that lacks the hardware but is diplomatically strong in the sector.
Setsuko Aoki provided the Japanese outlook on outer space. She began her statement by introducing Japan’s Basic Space Plan (BSP). This document, written and adopted in 2020, sets out directives for Japan’s behaviour as a space actor. The vast majority of these items promote international rule-making, demonstrating the country’s priority in the space domain. Aoki continued by recognizing and praising the role of the UK in one of Japan’s recent BSP accomplishments. Only three days prior to the conference, on 7 December 2020, the UN General Assembly adopted an energy resolution led by the UK and backed by Japan. This accomplishment, Aoki claimed, demonstrates Japan’s willingness and expectation to work alongside the UK in maintaining, promoting and enhancing space security. Aoki went on to comment that prioritizing space security has become a new ideal in Japan. Previously, Japan had been unable to develop a strong space presence due to its constitutional restrictions regarding offensive military capabilities. When, in 2008, defensive military actions in outer space were internationally legitimized, Japan was liberated to become a peaceful space actor. Since then, the country’s position has slowly changed to incorporate elements of security. Indeed, the current BSP was the first national space document to focus on space security. Aoki concluded her remarks by stating that she is optimistic about future promotion and commercialization of the outer space industry.
During the Q&A, three important themes were discussed: the expense of outer space technology, the need for international best practice norms, and communication on outer space. First, Aoki and Porras outlined the huge expense of outer space developments, resulting in the need to create alliances in this industry. Porras furthered this idea by suggesting that states should identify areas in which they can add value to specific projects and team up with partners to execute them. Second, Lewis pointed to the reluctance of countries to commit to cementing hard laws in place on outer space, given the difficulties this can lead to when adapting to future technological advances. Stickings was pragmatic, urging states to accept that space is now militarized, and that international forums should come to an agreement on responsible behaviour in this new reality. Third, panellists agreed that communication on outer space must improve to include the general public in the debate. This engagement would create the political pressure that is necessary for leadership to move on these topics. Finally, the session concluded with a reminder from Stickings that, despite all the talk of competition, outer space also has the potential to bring individuals and countries together, through the realization that there is much more out there, beyond our planet.
Session 03 | Engaging the Arctic: UK–Japan responses
Session three was opened by the chair Caroline Kennedy-Pipe. She announced the topics of the session, focusing on the relationship between the UK and Japan over Arctic issues, and alluded to the events in the region. She then introduced the panel.
Kazuko Shiraishi drew from her experience as Japan’s ambassador to the Arctic to affirm the official Japanese position on matters relating to the Arctic. Shiraishi explained that despite being involved in Arctic research since the 1950s, Japan had only created an official policy document on the Arctic in 2015. This document aimed to define Japan as an important player on Arctic issues. It centred on three initiatives: research and development through international cooperation, the importance of the rule of law, and sustainability. The first initiative supports Arctic research whereby Japan seeks to better understand climate mechanisms and its effects on human communities across the world. The country takes part in international projects (such as the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability, or ArCS) and data-sharing systems to promote international cooperation. The second initiative endorses a free and open maritime order in the Arctic region, based on the rule of law. Shiraishi stressed the need for treaties between actors engaging with the Arctic to regulate activity in that region. The third initiative also urges responsible behaviour given the climate challenges facing the Arctic. It also recognizes the economic opportunities offered by the Northern Sea Route. Shiraishi assured participants that this third initiative seeks to balance both elements. She concluded by commenting that UK–Japan partnership on Arctic matters contributes to the international community, to scientific research and to rule-making. She noted her hopes for their future cooperation with Arctic states to ensure the freedom and openness of the Arctic region.
Aki Tonami began by commenting that Japan engages two types of situational awareness with regard to the Arctic: a traditional security approach, and one that encompasses a broader understanding of global security. First, Japan relies on the Arctic for economic, energy, climate and food security. Tonami noted how ongoing competition and collaboration between China, South Korea and Japan impacts each of these dependencies. She continued that, despite calls for a legally binding agreement to govern Arctic activity, the Arctic corridor states had already officially rejected the need for such a legal regime, preferring soft law instruments and cooperation between Arctic states instead. This set-up limits the participation of the UK and Japan, which are not Arctic states, in the governance of the region. Yet, it does not hinder it. According to Tonami, the UK and Japan are still able to propose projects that reinforce their views on specific issues. Lastly, Tonami drew attention to the fundamental differences in the way that Arctic states and Asian states – such as China, South Korea and Japan – see the region. Arctic states take a more liberal institutional approach, while Asian actors are inclined to be realists. Tonami concluded her presentation by calling for the strengthening of a rules-based international order in the Arctic region and beyond.
Nengye Liu discussed three topics in his presentation: the UK’s Arctic policy, the rules-based international order, and the extent to which the UK and Japan strengthen that order in the Arctic. First, he recognized the UK as an influential Arctic player given its history, geographical proximity and economic-military power. He explained that British policy in the Arctic exists alongside parallel European Union and Scottish policies but that these largely disseminate the same values on Arctic sustainability. Second, Liu criticized the term ‘rules-based international order’, which is abundantly present in policy talks. He suggested that there is an inherent power structure implied in its use that marginalizes states seen as potential rule-breakers. In his view, these ‘rule-breakers’ represent potential changes to the international power structure. He reminded the audience that rules are being created in the Arctic now, and that differing visions should not marginalize traditionally weak states. Third, he highlighted the importance of the Arctic Council. Liu claimed that the UK and Japan can best support the Arctic by championing the Arctic Council. As the representative of the Arctic people, Liu concluded that the Council is in the best position to make appropriate decisions about the freedoms and sustainability of the region.
During the Q&A panellists were asked about China’s behaviour in the Arctic region, and whether it was disruptive. Shiraishi recognized that Chinese vessels only sail in the high seas, violating no international law. Yet, the increased presence of these vessels demands vigilance from all nations interested in the region. Similarly, Tonami agreed that China has acted responsibly in the Arctic, noting that this contrasted hugely with the country’s behaviour in the South China Sea. Liu suggested that this was due to the varying importance of the regions, commenting that while the South China Sea is a ‘core interest’ for China, the Arctic is not. This difference could be used to explain the differences in behaviour that the international community has observed.
Session 04 | Military use of the electromagnetic spectrum and electronic warfare: UK–Japan responses
The final session of the conference was chaired by Mathieu Boulegue. He introduced the topics for discussion, namely the military and security implications of the use of electronic warfare, and the British and Japanese responses to this growing challenge. Boulegue then went on to introduce the speakers.
Chris Fogarty drew upon his experience as a military practitioner to make his opening remarks. His presentation relayed the advantages, prevalence, legal requirements and counter methods of electromagnetic technology and strategy. To begin, Fogarty outlined both the importance and prevalence of electromagnetic technology, commenting that technologies such as GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are all dependent upon electromagnetic waves. He then defined the three dimensions of electronic warfare (EW): surveillance, defence and attack. Given the demonstrated importance of this technology for modern warfare, Fogarty shared an overview of different nations’ positions, outlining government spending, recent technological developments and military organization of EW for several powers: the US, Australia, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea. He then turned to the legalities of this type of warfare. Domestically, he explained that any EW activity within the UK requires a warrant or permission. Internationally, however, there is less certainty, with a noticeable lack of unambiguous (and ratified) treaties on the topic.
Zysk followed by stating that Russia places high value on information superiority, and that EW could be used as a tool to disrupt the backbone of its adversaries’ information systems.
Katarzyna Zysk discussed the role of Russia in the EW debate. She explained the driving forces behind Russia’s strong focus on EW, contextualizing these forces within the wider framework of Russian defence. First, she confirmed Russian commitment to the electromagnetic domain in contemporary warfare. This, she argued, is part of the country’s strategy to close its military capability gap with its potential opponents. Zysk followed by stating that Russia places high value on information superiority, and that EW could be used as a tool to disrupt the backbone of its adversaries’ information systems. There is a belief in Russia that this technology can be especially useful against an opponent that is militarily stronger. Lastly, Zysk referred to the use of psychological operations (using propaganda to create fear and uncertainty among opposing forces) to demonstrate the scope of Russia’s EW offensive capabilities. These advances in EW technology and interpretations are projected to continue at least until 2027, when the current state armament programme will end. These developments represent the growing complexity of Russian power projection in the international arena. Zysk concluded by predicting continued growth in EW as new technologies are adapted to military use, and reminded the audience of the importance of the role of NATO in this contested space.
The final speaker, Jun Nagashima, discussed the Japanese position. He tackled three themes: an overview of the current situation, Japan’s position and future challenges. First, he defined EW and noted some of the commonplace defence and attack tactics that are used in this domain. Nagashima also discussed the arms race in EW technology, claiming that the US is working hard to catch up with other powers’ capabilities. He forecast that countries would see the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technology with EW technologies, and the further integration of the digital and physical worlds in this domain. Second, Nagashima focused on Japan’s position and efforts in EW. In recent years, the country has demonstrated significant interest in the defence of its electromagnetic domain, as well as the integration of traditional and contemporary warfare tactics. Nagashima shared Japanese intentions in this space, regarding equipment investment and alliances, underlining the importance of NATO, and the need for defensive readiness. Third, Nagashima looked to the future, particularly regarding the use of quantum technology. He claimed that the use of quantum particles, rather than quantum waves, has not been explored for military use. He predicted a development along these lines to be the next step in modern warfare tactics. He closed by urging Japan and its allies to eliminate EW vulnerabilities and strengthen their electronic resilience.
Boulegue opened the Q&A by asking the experts about the West’s performance in the EW race. On the one hand, Fogarty recognized the difficulties in the procurement of military technology given the rapid pace of general technological advancement. On the other hand, he confirmed that the West has been adapting its military units and creating integrated commands to act on new domains. Zysk reminded the audience that Russia had invested so many resources in EW because it has been identified as a weakness in its opponents’ strategies. On the effects of EW in times of peace, Nagashima raised two important points: the invisibility of these actions, and more importantly, the impossibility of determining the magnitude of the damage prevented. Zysk and Fogarty agreed that employing EW tactics in times of peace had become the ‘new normal’, requiring resilience from civilian and military electronic equipment. Lastly, Boulegue asked the panellists how EW can affect the lives of individuals. Fogarty listed medical consequences, such as infertility, cancer or pacemaker violation, and also highlighted the psychological damage that could arise if everyday technology is severely disrupted. Zysk took a broader stance, pointing out that EW has the potential to damage everything from the economy to information dissemination systems, with the potential to cause huge societal chaos.