Japan's essential infrastructure could be at the risk of cyberattacks by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, cabinet minister Taro Kono said Tuesday. Kono, who is chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission, reportedly said that Japan is working closely with the CIA and Britain’s MI6 to gain expertise to fight an ISIS attack.
"What we need to be most concerned about is Islamic State progressing to cyberattacks on important infrastructure from using the Internet for public relations and recruiting," Kono said, according to Bloomberg. "They have some very capable people" and are likely to make such a move in the "not-too-distant future."
The move comes as the country prepares for the 2020 Olympics to be held in Japan. John Scarlett, former chief of MI6, which helped with security arrangements for the 2012 Olympics in London, said that assuring safety at the event, which will be attended by thousands of international athletes and tourists, is a huge endeavor.
"With globalization, you potentially bring the world’s problems to Japan," Scarlett, said at a security conference in Tokyo last week. "The cyber dimension will further complicate the threat landscape."
Kono reportedly voiced concern over the shift in threats from physical attacks to the cyberspace, adding that Japan, so far, relied on security advantages with its strict gun control policy and difficult access to the island nation. Japan must work to cover its vulnerable points ahead of any terror attack, similar to those faced by the U.S. and Europe, he said.
While Japan has not experienced any ISIS attack on its soil, the group beheaded two of its citizens this year. In January, ISIS confirmed that it killed Japanese national Haruna Yukawa. In a video released by the group at the time, another hostage, Kenji Goto, blamed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the death of his fellow captive as the government failed to pay the ransom demanded by ISIS.
According to reports, Japan may also be preparing to send troops to Syria, an ISIS-stronghold, to join an international coalition conducting airstrikes against the militant group.
Several countries have beefed up their offensive against ISIS in Iraq and Syria after the group claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. The group also claimed responsibility for the downing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 in Egypt on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people on board.