After the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, Japan recently became the latest country to ban the deployment of telecommunication equipment supplied by Huawei in networks owned by the government or the country's defence forces.
Even though the Japanese government did not expressly name Huawei or ZTE, guidelines issued by it earlier this week to central government ministries and Self-Defence Forces directed them not to procure personal computers, servers and telecommunications equipment from certain vendors from next year as malicious software embedded in such equipment could either leak data to outside servers or disrupt operations.
Procurement standards for equipment purchased by government ministries and Self-Defence Forces will be made stricter from April next year so that the end users of such equipment will be able to determine the security of such equipment before buying them.
According to Nikkei, the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo lashed out at the Japanese government's decision, claiming that "there is no evidence that Huawei and ZTE products have security risks" and that any decision to ban products from the two firms could impact economic cooperation between China and Japan.
Critical infrastructure firms to shun Huawei equipment
Earlier today, Nikkei revealed in a separate article that the Japanese government is planning to ask private organisations in 14 critical infrastructure sectors, including the Power Grid and railways, not to deploy equipment that could be vulnerable to information leaks or system shutdowns. The move could force a large number of Japanese firms into getting rid of equipment supplied by Huawei and ZTE in the coming days.
"It's extremely important to avoid buying equipment that includes malicious functions like stealing or destroying information or halting information systems," said Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister.
"The government will create a critical infrastructure investigation committee in January under its cybersecurity strategy headquarters, led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The committee will explain its guidelines to representatives from groups including the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the Japan Water Works Association, the finance industry and the insurance sector, and ask them to refrain from buying vulnerable communications equipment," Nikkei noted.
Earlier today, news arrived that SoftBank, Japan's only major mobile carrier that uses equipment supplied by Huawei, will replace all Huawei-supplied equipment from its 4G networks within the next few years. The company will also not invite any bids from Huawei for its next-generation 5G network trials and may, instead, invite bids from two European companies. In fact, other Japanese mobile carriers such as NTT Docomo and KDDI have also decided not to use equipment supplied by Chinese companies in their future 5G networks.
Earlier this month, BT announced that it will remove all equipment supplied by Huawei from its core 3G and 4G networks in the next two years in accordance with an internal agreement following its acquisition of EE. It also announced that, in continuation of its 2016 agreement, its selection process for an equipment provider for its 5G network will not accept any bids from Huawei.