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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How to Fend off Foreign Spies

Intelligence Online: The Japanese foreign ministry (Gaimusho) has just issued a guidebook to its diplomats on how to thwart overtures by foreign intelligence operatives.

The new security measures deployed by Gaimusho are aimed primarily at countering the powerful Chinese secret service, Guoanbu , which was behind the suicide of a Japanese encryption officer in Shanghai in May, 2004 (IOL 515).

Not exclusively, however. From now on, all young diplomats preparing for overseas assignment are obliged to undergo far more extensive counter-espionage training than in the past. Senior officials at the ministry who consulted with specialists from Japan's counter-intelligence service Koancho , would like to see preventive measures taken from the very outset, when would-be diplomats attend courses at the Foreign Service Training Institute run by Koichi Takahashi .

Prior to last month, only heads of mission received training in fending off spies. Courses are now being dispensed in the ministry's headquarters in the Kasumigaseki district of Tokyo. Some 1,600 diplomats are attending this year, or triple the number in 2005. The guidebook on protection against espionage was drafted under the supervision of Akinori Wada , head of the ministry's security division and previously deputy legation head in East Timor.

According to the guidebook, diplomats who are approached by a foreign agency must immediately inform their superiors. They can do so by reporting directly to their bosses or talking to diplomats who have been appointed to the new post of security chief - answering to the 'Wada division' - in each Japanese embassy or consulate abroad. A confidential internal telephone number will also be available.

Officials will not be punished if they are recruited but don't give away any secrets, the guide-book specified. And even if they betray confidential information they will be less severely sanctioned if they confess it to their superiors before the situation becomes too serious. The book identified three leading threats: blackmail, intrusion of computer systems and eavesdropping (for instance, in hotels where Gaimusho officials stay with government delegations).
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