Skip to main content

Japanese government urged to establish industrial espionage unit

The Japanese government is being urged to establish an industrial espionage unit to try and stop spies stealing secrets relating to advanced technologies being developed by successful companies in the country. 

According to a report on the Nikkei Asian Review website, the Liberal Democratic Party, led by current Japanese President Shinzō Abe, is formulating a list of recommendations aimed at preventing industrial espionage against Japanese companies.

As quoted by Nikkei, Akira Amari, one of the LDP’s leading members, says: “The need for intelligence capabilities is broadening beyond sensitive military-related information to a wide range of private-sector data.”

President Abe, who is said to be a tech fanatic, is likely to support the recommendations and a new security agency or unit specifically to analyze and investigate “economic security issues”.

Nikkei says Japan currently has no “specialized” anti-industrial espionage agency of that type, unlike the CIA in the US and the UK’s MI6.

Toshifumi Kokubun, a professor at Tokyo’s Tama University and an economic security expert, says: “American companies employ former FBI and CIA officials and ex-military personnel. There are few real-world examples of that in Japan.”

Japanese authorities appear to be particularly concerned about Chinese spies. “There’s a risk that important technology, data or financial or personnel information will leak to China,” says Amari.

As Nikkei reports, a Chinese spy was caught a couple of years ago trying to get a GE Aviation employee to download documents onto a portable hard drive.

The Chinese spy in question was Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director of the Jiangsu Province branch of the Ministry of State Security, China’s intelligence agency, and was arrested after he arranged a meeting with the GE Aviation employee.

However, industrial espionage is nothing new, of course, and the Chinese are not the only ones who try and steal secrets and customers from rivals.

Many companies large and small have stories about being spied on. They can sense that their communications are being intercepted and read, and any potential customers they may be trying to sell to effectively hijacked by competing companies.

There are many examples of industrial espionage in recent decades, and the Japanese themselves are no angels.

Hitachi, one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Japan, pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal confidential computer information from IBM and transport it to Japan, back in the 1980s.

And the Americans, even though they usually have the most advanced technologies which everyone is trying to steal, are also not above a bit of dirty dealing, with famous companies having been caught in plenty of instances of intellectual property theft.

Harold Worden, an employee of Kodak who had worked for the venerable company for more than 30 years, had been stealing and selling his employer’s secrets pretty much the whole time he was there.

Apparently, according to, Worden didn’t bother returning the documentation he had stolen – much of which must have been technical in nature – until 1992, when he left the company.

Worden pleaded guilty in 1997 and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and fined a mere $50,000 or less, after having sold probably millions of dollars’ worth of secrets.

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledges that it’s not just the usual suspects the country has to worry about, as it says on its website.

“China and Russia are not the only perpetrators of espionage against sensitive US economic information and technology,” says the DNI.

“Some US allies abuse the access they have been granted to try to clandestinely collect critical information that they can use for their own economic or political advantage.”

However, given that China is the current bogeyman for the US, the DNI has listed five companies as being “threats” to the country’s supply chain. They are:

  • Huawei;
  • ZTE Corporation;
  • Hytera Communications;
  • Hanghzou Hikvision; and
  • Dahua Technology Company.

The DNI says it is currently trying to prevent “foreign efforts to subvert the U.S. supply chain and empowering federal procurement and contracting officers who share in the responsibility for protecting the federal supply chain”.

Japan, meanwhile, has stepped up its efforts to boost its intelligence capabilities. One of the initiatives it has taken is to apply to become a member of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group of countries, which include the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

However, there may be some obstacles for Japan’s application, according to a report on the South China Morning Post, which quotes Garren Mulloy, a professor of international relations at Daito Bunka University and an authority on regional security issues, as saying: “It’s not as straightforward as that.

“Five Eyes is what every country wants to belong to – the French would love to be members, but there have been some problems with US intelligence down the years – and it’s a similar situation with Japan.”


Popular posts from this blog

Menon meets Karzai, discusses security of Indians

Kabul/New Delhi/Washington, March 5 (IANS) India Friday said that the Feb 26 terror attack in Kabul will not deter it from helping rebuild Afghanistan as National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to review the security of around 4,000 Indians working in that country. Menon, who arrived here Friday morning on a two-day visit, discussed with Karzai some proposals to bolster security of Indians engaged in a wide array of reconstruction activities, ranging from building roads, bridges and power stations to social sector projects. The Indian government is contemplating a slew of steps to secure Indians in Afghanistan, including setting up protected venues where the Indians working on various reconstruction projects will be based. Deploying dedicated security personnel at places where Indians work is also being considered. Menon also met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and enquired about the progress in the probe into the Kabul atta

Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth

Rethink before It’s Too Late Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth –Afghanistan. By Houman Dolati It is no more a surprise to see Iran absent in Afghanistan affairs. Nowadays, the Bonn Conference and Iran’s contributions to Afghanistan look more like a fading memory. Iran, which had promised of loans and credit worth five-hundred million dollars for Afghanistan, and tried to serve a key role, more than many other countries, for reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan, is now trying to efface that memory, saying it is a wrong path, even for the international community. Iran’s empty seat in the Rome Conference was another step backward for Afghanistan’s influential neighbor. Many other countries were surprised with Iran’s absence. Finding out the vanity of its efforts to justify absence in Rome, Iran tried to start its

Pakistani firm whose chemicals were used to kill US troops seeks subsidy for Indiana plant

By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel Published March 22, 2013   A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana.  The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making.  For the past seven years, the U.S. government has known that the raw material calcium ammonium nitrate, or CAN, is making its way across the border into Afghanistan where the Taliban use it to fuel their most deadly weapons, namely the improvised explosive device. IEDs have long been the number one killer of U.S. and coalition troops.  The material largely comes from Pakistani fertilizer maker the Fatima Group. But the Pakistani government has stymied attempts by the Pentagon to stop the