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24 October 2007

The sun rises on Japanese intelligence

Further to the study of comparative intelligence traditions, we note the recent increased discussion of the role and activities of the intelligence profession in Japan.

The country’s WWII legacy has long made discussion of such matters extremely controversial within the context of the domestic political scene. Recent publications have however shed new light on otherwise neglected aspects of the country’s own intelligence community.

The National Bureau of Asian Research has recently reviewed two Japanese language books on the subject. The first, Nihon No Intelligence Kikan, was written by the former Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat Information Research Bureau – a position which seems very roughly analogous to a US counterpart of the NIC or even the old Office of National Estimates. The book describes the organization of the agency, its activities, and the role of OSINT in Japanese intelligence.

The second volume, Strategy on Intelligence Activity by the State, was authored as a dialogue between a former intelligence officer in the Japanese Foreign Ministry and a former intelligence officer from the South Korean Navy.

For those wishing to peruse more official sources as background before diving into such works, there is also a short briefing paper available from the Japanese National Institute for Defense Studies, which provides a concise overview of the country’s intelligence structure.

We are pleased to see the internationalization of intelligence studies amongst our allies, and hope to see additional similar works in the near future (as well as English language printings…)

(With our humble thanks to the reader who kindly brought this to our attention).

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