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Cyber crime in Japan - statistics & facts

Cyber-crimes pose a challenge to authorities in Japan. Due to the growing importance of digital technologies for the economy as well as people’s daily lives, which includes areas such as cashless payment methods, online banking, digital health services, and remote work, security concerns in this regard have become an important domestic issue. As of January 2021, the country counted more than 117 million active internet users, making it the fourth-largest internet market in the Asia Pacific region.

Growing problem awareness

Current forms of internet crimes in Japan cover a wide range of offenses. In 2019, a surge in online banking frauds was detected, with the amount of money lost due to online banking frauds climbing to over 2.5 billion Japanese yen. In 2020, cyberbullying became a major issue due to the suicide of Hana Kimura, a female professional wrestler who had also appeared on a reality television series. Since that year, the police also recorded numerous cases of suspected cyber-crimes related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Other offenses include issues such as unauthorized computer access, illegal business practices, as well as illegal or harmful content, which encompasses many cases of child prostitution and child pornography.

Cyber-security, in general, has become a prevalent issue in Japan, partly because of the economy’s dependence on the internet, electronic devices, and automation technology, and partly because of Japan’s geopolitical position and uneasy relations with its neighboring countries. Because Japanese bureaucrats and politicians were comparatively slow in responding to these issues, the country has been in a state of catching up in recent years with regard to its cyber-security strategy. The government’s vision of an increasingly interconnected society, called “Society 5.0”, as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, provided the impetus to strengthen the infrastructure against external and internal threats. Among other measures, the government revised the Telecommunications Business Act in 2018, enabling the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT) to actively survey Internet of Things (IoT) devices in its attempts to prevent DDoS attacks. In 2022, a new bureau and special investigative team dedicated to cyber-crimes were established at the National Police Agency.

Countermeasures of companies and individuals

While the number of cleared cyber-crime cases has gradually increased since the mid-2010s, companies and individuals do not solely rely on state institutions when it comes to defending themselves against such crimes. According to a survey among more than two thousand companies in Japan, almost all businesses had implemented information security measures to counter online threats, with most enterprises reporting to have installed anti-virus programs on computers and other devices. Due to the increasing reliance on the internet, tools and services promising to improve information security have become a necessity not only for businesses, but also for many consumers accessing the internet via personal devices. This is especially the case as the spread of smartphones in the 2010s has made mobile internet access much more common and convenient than before, increasing the need for effective mobile security. As the importance of connected devices is expected to grow further in the coming years, the information security market will likely expand as well.

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