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Western nations’ labeling of NSS chief Akiba as pro-China causes confusion for Japan gov’t officials

  • August 1, 2021
  • , Sentaku , p. 44
  • JMH Translation

Some Western policy research organizations are taking the view that the government’s appointment of former Vice Foreign Minister Akiba Takeo, who they believe is pro-China, as director-general of the National Security Secretariat (NSS) in July will make the government of Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide weak-kneed toward China.

 

The Western institutes seem to base this view on Akiba’s tenure as China division chief. But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has a policy of letting not only bureaucrats who receive Chinese language training but also promising young and mid-career bureaucrats engage in work related to China. Also, Akiba’s deep involvement in a diplomatic initiative which described Japan-China ties as a strategic reciprocal relationship made the Western policy research organizations believe that Akiba is sympathetic to China. But it has also been said that Japan’s economic security efforts to prevent sensitive technologies from being stolen by China could not have been facilitated if Akiba had not held off cautious views within the foreign ministry. A senior government official says, “I think foreign researchers have been led astray by articles written by some Japanese media outlets.”

 

It is not easy for Akiba to correct this image, however. Prime Minister Suga also tends to be viewed as pro-China despite his hardline stance toward that country because he used to be a member of a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) intraparty faction which has a close relationship with Beijing. Some people are concerned, saying, “Prime Minister Suga and Akiba may lean toward taking a tougher stance against China than necessary out of concern for how the U.S. perceives them.”

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