Thank you to everyone who came to Seattle-Tokyo-Tel Aviv: Innovation, Cyber-Security, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which Consul General Yamada of the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle was kind enough to host at his residence. We had a full house and barely enough chairs for everyone who came out! This event was organized by the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington in partnership with the Asia Pacific Institute, with assistance from the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Consul General Yamada gave his opening remarks on the importance of cyber security. “The other day, I was in my backyard when I saw a floating object in the sky…It was a seagull. But soon enough it may not be.”

Program Chair and Co-Founder of Innovation Finders Capital, Tom Sato then introduced his fellow panelists: Mihoko Matsubara, Chief Security Officer for Japan at Palo Alto Networks, Assaf Marco, Director of Cyber Security and Homeland Security on behalf of the Israeli Trade Mission in Tokyo, and Dr. Rex Hughes, Adviser on Emerging Technology International Engagement with Madrona Venture Group.

Matsubara-san elaborated on the state of cyber security in Japan with the upcoming 2020 Olympics. The Olympics has given the nation a clear deadline for enhancing national cyber security. In the past, Japan has leaned toward keeping their data on premises rather than in the cloud. As data needs have increased, Japan has recently begun to put more emphasis on using the cloud in order to stay competitive and keep up with data storage necessities. Meanwhile, in Seattle, groups like Amazon, Microsoft, and AWS are acting as some of the largest national, if not global, company platforms for improving cyber security. Amazon is putting more security into the cloud than ever. Matsubara-san explained that with such significant improvements, Japan has no excuse not to move data to the cloud because cloud is not more secure than on premise data storage.

How does Israeli fit into the conversation on cyber security and the 2020 Olympics? “Israelis are very good at sports,” Marco jokes. Over the past few years, cooperation between Japan and Israel has grown considerably, particularly in Tel Aviv, which has become a hub of cyber security startups, education centers, and military presence. Marco explains that the Israeli government saw the need, and the economic and business value of investing in cyber security. After a mutual exchange of Prime Ministers a few years ago, larger Japanese delegations of security professionals have been going to Tel Aviv, generating more business for both nations. Marco noted that one incredible aspect of this exchange has been how comfortable Japanese people are becoming in Israel, especially compared to a few years ago, when Japan was struggling to get one company to join a delegation to Tel Aviv.

With the importance of cyber security growing daily across the world, with the fear of cyber terrorism, having your identity stolen, and a shortage of capable security professionals, Sato emphasized the importance of our countries continuing to cooperate in their efforts.

The panel was followed with an interesting Q&A discussion before closing with a toast and sake. The program was followed by an engaging networking reception, featuring a delicious buffet of appetizers from Consul General Yamada’s personal chef.

Find out what else is happening with the Society and check out our upcoming events here. We hope to see you again!

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