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03 September 2008

Commercializing the honey trap

Japan has long been one of the world’s leaders in the privatization of intelligence functions. Hand in hand with this privatization comes the blurring of the distinctions which define intelligence as a profession itself, and that which are incorporated across a range of interdisciplinary areas. In the 1980’s, the rest of the world most famously became aware of the commercialization of these activities in the realm of scientific and technical intelligence obtained through a variety of joint venture structures and other business alliances. The trend has continued, albeit in new areas and different forms.

Japan is also noted for the relentless consumerization of ideas and concepts into marketable goods and services. Their retail sector evolves at a blistering rate, making the Tokyo schoolgirl the most sought after youth demographic to test new fashion trends and other memetic products.

Thus we are unsurprised to note the intersection of these two trends, profiled in a recent UK article regarding professional sexual entrapment services. The cases are interesting in that they demonstrate both classic human intelligence approaches across a variety of cases, but also in that they represent an apparently profitable market segment. In the United States, private investigators have long known that spurned spouses – and their lawyers – are an easy source of income. Such has been the stuff of a certain genre of crime novel for decades. However, the Japanese incarnation is more subtle, in that the primary focus is on influence operations designed to alter the target’s behavior and perceptions – typically to overcome cultural factors in what is still largely a conservative and tradition oriented society.

It seems to us there is a growing body of lessons learned that might be culled from the cases handled by such services. No doubt none of these lessons are new, nor terribly unique, as the lusts of men and women change little over the years. However, the experiences of these professionals (and equally importantly, the handlers which conduct the equivalent of targeting analysis and other operations management functions) do represent a unique aggregation of unclassified examples which could be used to augment academic studies of what is otherwise the most clandestine of intelligence activities.

No doubt for a young researcher such studies might also be uniquely rewarding. One should hope however that the debriefer is otherwise unattached prior to embarking upon the project.

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