Japan enacted on Wednesday legislation establishing a new bureau and a special investigative team at the National Police Agency tasked with tackling serious cybercrime cases.
With jurisdiction over the entire country and an April 1 start date, the 200-strong cybercrime investigation team will deal with serious cases such as attacks on national and local governments as well as critical infrastructure. It will monitor cyberattacks from both within Japan and overseas.
It is the first time the police agency will be directly involved in investigating crimes, although the affiliated Imperial Guard Headquarters, which is tasked with protecting the royal family, has done so previously.
In postwar Japan, local police in each of the nation's 47 prefectures have, in principle, conducted investigations and made arrests or searches.
The agency's newly created cyber police bureau will consist of about 240 officials and will centralize cybercrime-related work that has so far been conducted at different bureaus.
The special investigative team will work out of the Kanto Regional Police Bureau in Saitama north of Tokyo.
As it is common overseas for national agencies to deal with cybercrime, the agency plans to send its investigators to Europe and elsewhere to participate in joint operations.
The bill revising the police law passed the House of Councillors at a plenary session on Wednesday.
In 2021, the number of cybercrimes topped 10,000 for the first time in Japan, with a sharp increase in reports of ransomware cases. Concerns are also growing about alleged state-sponsored attacks from China, North Korea and Russia.
A domestic supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. was targeted in a cyberattack in February, prompting the automaker to halt domestic plants for part of a day and causing the production loss of some 13,000 vehicles.