(Themis: November 2015 – pp. 10-11)
Four Japanese nationals were found to have been detained in May and June by the Chinese Ministry of State Security on charges of spying. One Japanese man was arrested near the China-North Korea border, another man in Zhejiang Province in southern China, a third man in Beijing, and a woman in Shanghai.
There are reports that the first two men were actually hired by the Japanese Public Security Investigation Agency (PSIA) to undertake espionage activities on China and North Korea, so the PSIA has been badly shaken.
Although the Japanese media had known about the detention of these four individuals, including their names and some personal information, six months ago, they had no idea why they were taken into custody.
It was Asahi Shimbun that published a “scoop” on Sept. 30, specifying their offense as “spying” and citing “several sources on Japan-China relations.” It is intriguing that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei confirmed Asahi’s report on the same day. It would seem that they were working in concert.
A Japanese political journalist notes: “The initial charges against these four Japanese nationals are still unknown. It is possible that the charges were later changed to spying. The Xi Jinping faction is gathering information to attack members of the Jiang Zemin faction with Japan connections. It is possible that the names of major Japanese companies may come up later on in these cases.”
Meanwhile, the arrest of the four Japanese has given rise to criticism of the PSIA for its “uselessness,” as shown in its paying substantial amounts of money to private citizens to gather intelligence. The PSIA excelled in intelligence on the Japanese Communist Party and the Aum Shinrikyo cult group. However, with greater domestic political stability, its importance has diminished. The arrest of the four Japanese has given rise to calls to create a new intelligence body centered on the Foreign Ministry, which has extensive connections overseas, and the National Security Council. (Summary)