Japan to ban Huawei, ZTE from government contracts amid cyberattack fears

  • Newspaper report says Tokyo is expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday
  • It comes after the US earlier this year banned government purchases of Huawei gear
PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2018, 8:47am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2018, 10:13pm

Japan is set to effectively ban government purchases of telecommunications products from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation over fears of intelligence leaks and cyberattacks, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Friday.

The government is expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday. It is unlikely to name the two companies, to avoid aggravating China, but Huawei and ZTE are to be subject to the ban, the report said, citing a government source.

A Japanese government official with knowledge of the matter told the South China Morning Post the government had not yet made a final decision on excluding Huawei and ZTE from its list of approved vendors.

“[We] have not excluded specific companies without justifiable reasons. The government needs to respond to various threats including supply chain risks, we have been carrying out necessary measures in light of developments overseas and technological progress related to cybersecurity issues,” said the official, who was not authorised to speak publicly.

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The report follows a decision by the United States this year to ban government purchases of Huawei gear.

While declining to comment on the details of government procurement policies, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference, “Ensuring the cybersecurity of government agencies has become increasingly important. We will deal with the matter from various perspectives.”

Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya also pledged efforts to ensure security. According to a defence Ministry official, the ministry does not use products from Huawei or ZTE in the key components of its information systems.

There have been global concerns about the two companies’ ties with the Chinese government
Japanese government source

The move by the Japanese government comes after the United States, Japan’s key ally, enacted the National defence Authorisation Act in August that bans the government’s use of Huawei and ZTE technology products and services out of concern over their connections with Chinese intelligence.

US intelligence agencies allege Huawei is linked to China’s government and that its equipment could contain “back doors” for use by spies, although no evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has denied the claims.

In addition, Australia and New Zealand have blocked Huawei from building 5G networks, while Britain’s BT Group said on Wednesday it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.

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“There have been global concerns about the two companies’ ties with the Chinese government. But we need to make sure that we will not stop the recent trend of improvement in Japan-China ties,” a Japanese government source said.

Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of its founder, on Saturday in Vancouver at the request of US authorities, the country’s Justice Department said Wednesday

Additional reporting by Kyodo and Catherine Wong