Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

For the First Time, Japan's Government Hosts a Hackathon

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 7 2013

Japan’s recent strides in open data have displayed a growing interest in transparency from both citizens and public officials.  A hackathon held this past weekend shows that the government is already letting developers in on one high-level project: maintaining national security. 

The Japanese government has long resisted the promotion of hackathons on civic issues, out of fear that they would encourage cybercrime against agencies.  Yet cybercrime has been on the uptick in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, often in the form of phishing emails – usually originating in China – that target victims or agencies.

Now the escalating crisis over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands has invited further Chinese cyberattacks.  This past September, the Japanese government laid official claim to three of the uninhabited islands near Taiwan in the East China Sea; China and Taiwan have long disputed Japan’s right to the territory, which may be home to untapped oil reserves.  In response, Chinese hacks infiltrated hundreds of Japanese organizations, including government agencies and hospitals.

The hackathon, which took place February 3 in Tokyo, saw Japan inviting programmers and cybersecurity specialists to tinker with government websites for the first time.  Thirty-six developers were asked to identify holes in security practices, cracking sites to compromise data and passwords.  Japan takes cyber threats seriously; a military panel determined in the fall that malicious hacks of foreign origin could provoke the same response as attacks on land or at sea.  Coming to an understanding of current cybersecurity weaknesses could preclude the need for such retaliation.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

First POST: Tribes

Edward Snowden on the Internet's impact on political polarization; trying to discern Hillary Clinton's position on NSA reform; why Microsoft is bullish on civic tech; and much, much more GO

monday >

First POST: Inventions

How voter data-sharing among GOP heavyweights is still lagging; why Facebook's News Feed scares news publishers; Google's ties to the State Department; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Spoilers

How the GOP hasn't fixed its tech talent gap; the most tech-savvy elected official in America, and the most tech-savvy state-wide candidate; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Hot Spots

How Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is making inroads in China; labor protests among Uber drivers spread to more cities; new data about the prevalence of online harassment; and much, much more. GO

More