Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

On January 13, 2023, the Mansfield Foundation hosted Dr. Benjamin Bartlett (Miami University in Oxford, Ohio), Mihoko Matsubara (NTT Corporation, Tokyo), and Simone Petrella (CyberVista) for a roundtable discussion addressing why and how the United States and Japan should and can cooperate in the field of cybersecurity. This event is part of an ongoing series on U.S.-Japan Cooperation in the World, supported by the Embassy of Japan in the United States.

View the roundtable on the Foundation’s YouTube page here.

Dr. Bartlett began the conversation by stressing three main reasons why U.S.-Japan cooperation in cybersecurity both makes sense and is necessary:

  1. Japan is uniquely qualified to assist the United States in filling the large demand for cybersecurity personnel in part due to organizations adopting the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework;
  2. The United States and Japan have several exchange programs which will greatly facilitate the deepening of trust in human networks necessary for addressing cyber threats; and
  3. The distinctions between American and Japanese culture, history, and institutions are highly conducive in finding diverse and unique solutions to cyber issues.

Ms. Matsubara followed Dr. Bartlett to discuss the implications of Japan’s newly updated National Security Strategy (NSS) on its approach to cybersecurity. She explained that within its new NSS, the Japanese government has committed to greater collaboration with international partners, civilian agencies, and (unprecedentedly) critical infrastructure companies when addressing cyber threats. Moreover, she pointed out that the NSS emphasizes strengthening such cooperation during peacetime in order to prepare for future cyber-attacks.

Ms. Petrella wrapped up the panel discussion by identifying three key issues government and private employers face in filling cyber-related roles:

  1. Employers struggle to identify and hire talent for these roles that have not existed in the past;
  2. Retaining employees is difficult, as the low supply of skilled personnel increases the chances of employees getting poached by other companies; and
  3. Employers need to create an infrastructure that allows workers to “level-up their skills.” In addressing these issues, Ms. Petrella suggested that first, employers should create metrics to capture what desired skills are present and missing within an organization. From there, organizations should create pathways to these roles by developing skills through experiential programs (i.e. trainings, internships, apprenticeships, etc.).

During the Q&A section of the event, moderated by Foundation President and CEO Frank Jannuzi, Ms. Matsubara expressed that Japan has a narrower view on cybersecurity compared to the United States because the United States has a more diverse array of cyber-related roles. She then suggested that Japan should create more of such roles and then empower both graduate students and seasoned workers to enter them. On a similar note, Dr. Bartlett and Ms. Petrella spoke on the misconception people have towards the cyber industry. They both stated that the cyber industry does not exclusively demand technical skills, for knowledge on law, intelligence, and different areas of study are critical for advancement in the field. The session concluded with Ms. Petrella specifically emphasizing that certificate requirements for cyber-related roles are extremely prohibitive to those wanting to enter the field, and that companies should focus on training employees they hire.