Japan to review drone security in check against China, report says

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Nov. 19 (UPI) — Japan could soon step up drone security, possibly eliminating China-made vehicles from its fleet.

Tokyo plans to strengthen security measures for drones used to monitor dams, ports and power plants. Ministries and government agencies could be required to comply with new rules for drones nationwide, starting next year, the Nikkei reported Thursday.

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The policy could rule out purchases of drones from certain countries. Drone-manufacturing countries and foreign companies were not named specifically, but it would be “virtually impossible” for agencies to purchase drones made in China, according to the report.

China and Japan have been at odds over issues of security. Japan has fended off Chinese boats from its claimed waters in the East China Sea, while drawing closer to allies in the region, including Australia.

Drone security measures are to apply to all Japanese ministries and other entities that must comply with the country’s Basic Act on Cybersecurity. Operations affected include territorial security, criminal investigations and inspection of “critical infrastructure,” where drones are used to collect data domestically.

The Japanese report comes more than a year after the United States warned Chinese-made drones could pose data theft threats. The drones could send data to Chinese firms, which could then be accessed by the Chinese government, the U.S. government had said.

Japan remains guarded against possible Chinese security threats as the ruling conservatives, the Liberal Democratic Party, maintains strong support across age groups.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported Thursday a November survey it conducted jointly shows overwhelming support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, with more than 80% of those aged 18 to 29 saying they approve of his performance.

Masao Matsumoto of the Social Survey Research Center said Japan’s youth prefer the “stability” the conservatives represent, while Kanto Gakuin University’s Shintaro Nakanishi, a sociologist, said the younger generations remain less than optimistic about Japan’s future and are wary of change, according to the report.

In October the Asahi Shimbun reported Suga was aware of a “blacklist” of Japanese scientists who were denied membership to the Science Council of Japan. The candidates had expressed critical views of government policies. The allegations led to lower approval ratings for the prime minister last month.