A group of 42 countries including Japan and the United States have agreed to include military-grade cyber software and manufacturing technology of weapon-capable semiconductor parts for export control in an effort to counter cyberattacks and other international threats, sources close to the matter said Sunday.
The move by the member states of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is apparently aimed at curbing the proliferation of military technology to parties such as China, North Korea and Iran.
With the agreement, Japan plans to tighten procedures for exporting military-related products and technology.
However, the operations of some Japanese companies may be affected because new control measures include cutting-edge fields of Japanese manufacturers.
According to the sources, the agreement was reached unanimously at a meeting in December of the arrangement, a Vienna-headquartered international nonbinding regime that restricts exporting commodities and technologies which may be diverted to military and weapon use.
The 42 members include Britain, Russia, India and South Korea, but China, Iran and North Korea do not take part.
The agreement came amid rising concerns about cyberattacks against key infrastructures and military systems in the simmering standoff between the United States and Iran.
In Japan, companies including Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and NEC Corp., major players in the nation's defense and infrastructure industries, have come under cyberattacks, with some suspecting involvement of Chinese cybercrime groups.
Propelled by growing calls for countermeasures to possible cyberattacks and terrorism, the Wassenaar Arrangement member states affirmed the need to control "invisible weapons" such as communication surveillance technologies and systems, as well as digital forensics systems that allow retrieving erased data, the sources said.
In response to the agreement to expand the scope of export control, Japanese authorities, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will work out details such as crafting necessary legislation.
If silicon wafers, a key component of a high-performance semiconductor, were subject to regulation, a Japanese maker would be required to file an application with the government to export the product and related technology.
A highly efficient wafer is an integral part of manufacturing a cutting-edge chip that requires extremely thin, nanolevel light beams when designing it.