Arrest of Japanese man latest in recent spate of espionage cases

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/21 19:28:39

China's first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is pictured at Dalian Port in Dalian city, Northeast China's Liaoning province, June 13, 2017. Photo: IC

A Japanese man arrested in Northeast China's Liaoning Province has become the latest to be caught in China for engaging in spying activities.

At least 12 Japanese men have been detained in China on suspicion of engaging in espionage since 2015, four of whom were released and returned to Japan in July. Five were prosecuted and the remaining eight remain in custody, Japanese media Kyodo News reported.

Chinese experts said Japan is a nation of spies that has long engaged in economic espionage across the world, but their main mission in China is collecting military-related data.

Surveying and mapping

The Japanese man was recently investigated by the Dalian national security agency, and procuratorate organs have approved his detention for espionage, Dalian Daily reported on Monday.

The Japanese government also confirmed that the man, in his 60s, was first detained in May, Kyodo News reported.

The report is known to the Chinese foreign ministry. "The relevant Chinese authority has conducted an investigation and review on the Japanese national suspected of being involved in behavior that endangers national security," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told the press on Monday.

China has notified the relevant Japanese consulate in China in a timely manner and in accordance with the Agreement on Consular Relations between China and Japan, Lu said.

The man is suspected of being involved in collecting military information and could be regarded as a spy, Japanese news site reported Monday. Dalian is a military harbor, the location where China's first domestically made aircraft carrier was launched, the report said.

"Collecting military information is Japanese spies' current primary task in China. The Asia-Pacific region was shaken up after the US initiated its Asia-Pacific Rebalancing Strategy," Li Wei, an expert on anti-terrorism at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the on Global Times Wednesday.

National security issues involving Northeast Asia, East China Sea and South China Sea have long blighted the region. Now, the North Korea nuclear issue is becoming especially sensitive, Li added.

Surveying and mapping is an essential method of collecting military information, as maps commonly available to the public are not precise enough. An accurate map containing data of terrain and landforms on it can help capture accurate positions in times of war, he explained to the Global Times.

Six Japanese men arrested in March reportedly violated China's Surveying and Mapping Law and Mineral Resources Law when they illicitly engaged in a surveying mission in Penglai city, Shandong and Sanya, Hainan, according to previous reports by the Chinese version of the Global Times.

Data shows that their companies, the Japanese Underground Survey company and Dalian Heyuan Spring company, were found to be involved in illegal reconnaissance activities on over 30 occasions in the past decade.

They were arrested in Shandong Province and Hainan Province. Four of them were repatriated in July and the other two are still under investigation.

Large amounts of secret documents were found in their possession, including classified maps and data, the Chinese Global Times reported in July.

China implemented the Counter-Espionage Law on November 1, 2014, which states that foreign organizations and individuals who engage in espionage activities or instigate and sponsor similar activities will be punished.

Easy integration

Traditionally, Japan has collected industrial information in various fields. Every Japanese man could be a spy, whose position would be similar to that of a government contract worker, said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

Japanese and Chinese share similar appearances and languages. It's easy for them to integrate into Chinese society and to build a circle of Chinese acquaintances, Chu said.

"Unlike American spies, who are usually officially hired by the US government and enjoy diplomatic protection, Japanese spies are quite amateur," Chu told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Those "Japanese spies" usually have full-time positions in companies in China and report to Japanese industrial departments when they acquire any relevant information, he added.

"Their spying scope is not limited to the economic field but also includes cultural and social fields. But their amateur information collecting methods make it easier for them to be caught," Chu noted.

The Japanese defense department even posts a safety notice for their citizens, warning them not to be caught as spies in China.

There are two circumstances when Japanese are suspected as spies in China - when they take photos of banned facilities and when they enter restricted zones, Cankaoxiaoxi reported.

The Japanese defense department is fully aware that many Japanese citizens have been detained for taking pictures of classified facility and the Chinese national security bureau will detain anyone involved in unauthorized surveying.

Newspaper headline: Nation of spies

Posted in: SOCIETY

blog comments powered by Disqus