The security scene in Japan has definitely improved in the last year and people are surprised about how many security "study gatherings" there are around the country now. (Although still the hacking scene is still probably lamer than the hacking scene was back in 98' in the U.S.)
I have been going to security conferences here for the past couple years and besides the international conferences (BlackHat Japan, Pac Sec, etc...), all of the conferences I have been to are elderly manager types in suits that want to get in on this security thing but can only see a strange black box and have little idea what's inside. Little to no technical goodies.
Last weekend was the first Japanese security gathering that I thought was interesting. A couple semi-famous Japanese hackers bullet trained down from Tokyo to host the gathering. There were about 50 people that half came from very distant places just for the event. We just went over some of last year's Defcon CTF problems that was mixed with some original problems. It was only from 13:00-17:00 or so, so it is hard to really learn alot in that short of a time. But I did find it somewhat interesting.
There is finally a small group of semi?-talented hackers here that have finally decided to get serious about hacking. They are extremely determined to make it into this year's Defcon CTF.
I find it funny that probably the biggest motivation for this is not for self improvement or for purely the love of hacking, but to not loose to South Korea!
In recent years, South Korean hackers have gained some "skillz" and the two teams apparently did quite well in last year's defcon. They even have a CTF in Korea, "CodeGate", with probably the largest monetary award for the winners for a CTF that I have seen. (As you can see, Japan is not doing well compared to others...)
So I forget who were the Korean hackers and what exactly they did but I guess there were some Korean hackers that while flaunting their l33t haXin skillz, they were wearing this shirt or something to that effect...
For those of you who do not know, Dokdo is the name of an island that is almost equidistant between South Korean and Japan which both countries claim as their own territory. This was big in the news a couple months ago when many South Koreans got super pissed off after Japan wrote in their textbooks that this small useless island where only Koreans live was actually part of Japan.
So it is the classic "Hacker Ego" scenario. Someone angers your ego by saying they are smarter than you so you devote all of your time just to try to prove that you are actually better/smarter than them.
Well, whatever gets the fire burning I guess.....