Japan to spy on China, North Korea

More evidence that as U.S. power wanes, Japan (and others) must pick up the slack.

This story contains hints that the U.S. and Australia will assist Japan in setting up its first foreign intelligence service since WWII, and will expect to share in the information obtained by the Japanese.

I think it is inevitable that Japan and Taiwan will ‘go nuclear’ at some point as the Americans are slowly forced to cut back on their military presence in the region.

Jeff Goodall.

Japan rebuilds foreign intelligence service to spy on neighbours

The Age (Australia)

Philip Dorling: February 21st, 2011

FOR the first time since World War II, Japan is establishing a secret foreign intelligence service to spy on China and North Korea and gather information to prevent terrorist attacks.

The spy unit has been created under the wing of Japan’s peak intelligence agency, the Cabinet Information and Research Office, or Naicho. It is modelled on Western intelligence services such as the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Britain’s MI6 and the CIA.

The existence of the new Japanese espionage capability is revealed publicly in a leaked US diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided exclusively to The Age. Japanese military and naval intelligence, together with the infamous secret police, the Kempeitai, ran extensive spy networks throughout east and south-east Asia up to the end of World War II.

Successive postwar governments in Tokyo have been reluctant to establish a foreign espionage service for fear of diplomatic risks.

But in an October 2008 discussion with Randall Fort, the head of the US State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research, Naicho director Hideshi Mitani revealed that a ”human intelligence collection capability” was a priority.

A secret report cabled to Washington by the US embassy in Tokyo indicates that the decision was taken by the former Liberal Democratic Party government headed until September 2008 by prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, and then by prime minister Taro Aso.

”The decision has been made to go very slowly with this process as the Japanese realise that they lack knowledge, experience, and assets/officers. A training process for new personnel will be started soon,” the embassy reported.

The head of the internal security agency, Toshio Yanagi, told Mr Fort that Japan’s most pressing intelligence priorities were ”China and North Korea, as well as on collecting intelligence information to prevent terrorist attacks”.

The leaked cables reveal that later in 2006 Mr Fort urged officials to tap the ”under-utilised assets” in the worldwide network of Japanese businesses and trading companies.

Tokyo’s need for intelligence collection to complement its signals and technical intelligence capabilities was supported by candid admissions to American counterparts about the lack of information on North Korea’s secretive leadership.

According to the US embassy’s report, Mr Mitani said that while Japanese intelligence believed the ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was well enough to make decisions, they were ”in the dark” about how he passed them on.

Mr Mitani also confessed that Japan’s best insights into Mr Kim’s personality and psychology came not from a secret source but from his former Japanese sushi chef who had published a kiss-and-tell memoir of his service in Pyongyang.

Australian intelligence sources said they and the CIA would support the spy service.

”The Japanese can go many places more easily than we can, and it’s inevitable that Japan will again become a major clandestine player – especially in China, and in south-east Asia,” one Australian analyst said.

with WASHINGTON POST

See original here.