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Australia Why Japan wants to join the Five Eyes intelligence network

01:37  19 september  2020
01:37  19 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Five Eyes grouping is an intelligence -sharing alliance consisting of nations with deep historical and cultural ties anchored in their shared Anglo-Saxon heritage and As Breitbart London reported, this is not he first time a move to add to the existing Five Eyes network has been mooted, but it is the

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. | London – In September 2018, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Arthur Herman, wrote a fascinating piece for this page saying it was time for Japan to join the Five Eyes

a close up of a sign: Five Eyes membership has been limited to the US and select Commonwealth countries since the 1940s. (ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser) © Provided by ABC NEWS Five Eyes membership has been limited to the US and select Commonwealth countries since the 1940s. (ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

Japan's Shinzo Abe has left his successor, Yoshihide Suga, a hefty pile of work.

Mr Abe is Japan's longest-serving prime minister, and has been praised for pulling the world's third-largest economy out of the doldrums and developing a more assertive Japanese foreign policy.

But the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out many of Mr Abe's economic gains, and Mr Suga takes the helm at a time of great geopolitical uncertainty.

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Japan will also deepen cooperation with Five Eyes members to prevent cargo smuggling by North Korean ships on the sea. Japan has shared pictures of North Korean smuggling with each nation. Coordination between Japan and the intelligence -sharing allies in the digital and telecommunications

The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

One of the defining legacies of the Abe administration was his effort to move Japan from a cautious defence posture.

This included boosting defence spending and broadening the scope of Japan's pacifist constitution, which technically forbids the country from engaging in most forms of combat.

Last month, Defence Minister Taro Kono reiterated calls for Japan to join Five Eyes — an intelligence network made up of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

While entry to the exclusive club would represent a significant boost to Japan's ability to project power abroad, not to mention boosting the political capital of Japan's new Prime Minister, how likely is this idea?

What is Five Eyes?

Put simply, Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence gathering coalition where members vow to not spy on each other and pool all signals intelligence they gather, as well as the methods and technology that help them do so.

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Although the Five Eyes network was designed to share and monitor signals intelligence , i.e. intelligence drawn from electronic systems used by This raises the question of why Japan hasn't been asked to join before. The Five Eyes don't consider themselves an exclusive Anglosphere club

The “ five ” in the 5 Eyes refers to the five Anglophone countries that observe the treaty: Australia Israel, Japan , Singapore, and South Korea are all suspected to be third parties with the NSA as well. Prior to joining ProtonVPN, Richie spent several years working on tech solutions in the developing

The United Kingdom and the United States formalised the coalition in 1946, followed by Canada in 1948, and Australia and New Zealand in 1956 as equal members.

For partners including Australia and the United States, the bloc is a "force multiplier", according to Rory Medcalf, director of the Australian National University's National Security College.

"Intelligence matters more than ever, and intelligence sharing among the Five Eyes matters more than ever," Professor Medcalf said.

While its activities have been secret for most of its history, the bloc was thrust into the global spotlight following Edward Snowden's 2013 intelligence leaks, which revealed how Five Eyes members spied in some cases on their domestic populations.

The documents revealed that Australia, via the American National Security Agency, accessed the private data of its citizens on big tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, hundreds of times.

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British and other Five Eyes agencies do believe that Beijing has not necessarily been open about how coronavirus initially spread in Wuhan at the turn Claims are even made that the virus was genetically engineered in Wuhan, although there is both scientific and intelligence agency agreement that there

The Five Eyes Alliance arose out of a cold war era intelligence pact called the UKUSA Agreement. This was originally an intelligence -sharing agreement between the United States and the UK aimed at decrypting Soviet Russian intelligence . If you want to be extremely cautious, you should also be

Part of Mr Snowden's leaks also revealed that the bloc had second and third-level intelligence sharing tiers: Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes.

Nine Eyes adds Denmark, France, Norway, and the Netherlands to the original five, while 14 Eyes encompasses Nine Eyes plus Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Spain.

In recent years, Israel, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea have been also reported as Five Eyes collaborators, however their exact contribution remains opaque.

If countries already collaborate with the bloc, why aren't they members?

Being welcomed into the inner sanctum boils down to a question of trust between partners.

This extends to the reliability of the technology each member state uses; the strength of each member's legal protections of state secrets; and whether all members are willing to not spy on each other.

This last point appears to be the stumbling block for France and Germany, which have both been touted as potential members.

In 2015, Wikileaks revealed the US National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Francois Hollande, as well as their cabinet ministers.

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The enhanced coordination by the Five Eyes network suggests that, despite signals from U.S. President Donald None suggested that Germany, Japan or other nations outside the Five Eyes network had been invited to meetings of the intelligence alliance, which was set up after World War

"The maintenance of a ' Five Eyes standard' of cyber-security in telecommunications is a vital strategic and security interest, the loss of which would go far beyond a reduction Despite that, the indications are that the UK wants to hold out against US pressure and continue to work with the company on 5G.

Germany has also attempted to join the bloc multiple times, even after Mr Snowden's leaks revealed the NSA bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

John Schindler, a former NSA intelligence expert and professor at the US Naval War College, told German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) at the time of the leaks that Washington had little to gain from a no-spying pact with Berlin.

It's a sentiment that still holds, and it will define whether or not Japan makes the cut.

"Intelligence sharing is not a sentimental business," Euan Graham, Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow for Asia-Pacific security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told the ABC.

"It's a trade, and to some extent, very unique market principles apply."

Dr Graham said Japan's bid would be marked against two criteria: The distinctiveness of its intelligence offering, and guarantees that shared intelligence will remain secret — and it's the latter that may hinder Japan's bid.

What are Japan's intelligence vulnerabilities?

Japan's intelligence capacity is a patchwork.

"One of the risks with Japan is that they generally don't yet have as effective a system of security, classification and security clearance," Professor Medcalf said.

"That's partly because Japan has tended to rely on a much more informal security culture over the years, partly because it is such a homogenous society and its security elite tend to be drawn from very close-knit social circles."

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Tokyo only introduced a state secrecy law in 2013, and intelligence experts have criticised it for not going far enough. Others have criticised the law for stifling journalism and silencing potential whistleblowers.

Presently, all government staff, subcontractors, and prefectural police officers can view classified information, provided they aren't deemed to be a security risk.

Grant Newsham, a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and the Centre for Security Policy, told the ABC that any government attempt to better protect secret intelligence often received fierce pushback from parts of Japan's domestic population.

He said this was because of lingering memories of Japan's militaristic government — which he labelled a "secret police state" — in the lead-up to World War II.

But for Mr Newsham, these historical reservations need to be pushed past if Japan wants to be seen as a credible Five Eyes candidate.

"The entire Japanese intelligence gathering network needs a lot of work," Mr Newsham said.

"For example, if you work for a government agency, there are no set rules for letting people with a certain clearance see certain information, or classifying information with varying degrees of sensitivity.

"Theoretically almost anybody working at the place could find themselves looking at the most sensitive information that exists."

So, what does Japan have to offer?

Two words: technology, and China.

Japan has a long history of technological innovation, and its technological offering would form a main argument for gaining entry.

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Dr Graham says Japan has strengths in technical intelligence gathering, which involve capturing data on the electromagnetic spectrum, such as radio broadcasts and information shared electronically.

This is supported by what Dr Graham considers one of the world's largest intelligence-gathering infrastructure networks, which was created in the post-war period to accommodate Japan's minimal military.

And because this network is adjacent to China, he says this makes Japan's bid a compelling case.

"The more that China becomes a top priority for intelligence collection and analysis among Western countries, [the more] it is going to inherently elevate Japan's importance," Dr Graham said.

Because of this, Dr Graham said Japan's position as a non-Western, East Asian partner of Five Eyes could be seen as an asset, rather than a liability.

"It [shouldn't just be] about the cultural differences between Western and Japanese agents, but the cultural similarity between Japan and the intelligence targets of North Korea and China," he said.

Japan's population of Chinese speakers also adds to its attractiveness to Western intelligence.

How does intelligence gathering fit with Japan's pacifist constitution?

Before World War II, Japan enjoyed a sophisticated intelligence network, but it was dismantled after the Japanese surrender and its constitutional embrace of pacifism following the war.

Article 9 of the country's constitution states that Japan will "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation", and never maintain "land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential".

Over time however, governments have applied broad interpretations of the article to allow for self-defence, which has allowed Japan to build its Self-Defence Force (JSDF) from the 1950s, as well as set up an intelligence network to support its defensive capabilities.

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In 2015, Mr Abe passed controversial legislation that interpreted Article 9 as a clause for collective self-defence, which now permits the JSDF to serve overseas in combat roles.

Ben Ascione, a Japan specialist and PhD candidate at the ANU's Crawford School of Public Policy, told the ABC that intelligence gathering "is not generally understood" to clash with Article 9.

But he said this capability could be considered unconstitutional if another country used Japanese intelligence to form "an integral part of military force".

However, if Japan was directly under threat — officially known as a "survival scenario" — intelligence used to inform military force could be justified, he said.

"The definition of a survival scenario is undefined in the law and left as a political decision," Mr Ascione said.

"Japan already shares intelligence with the United States. The chance that the constitutionality of intelligence sharing ever going before the Supreme Court is slim, and even if it did, they would most likely ignore it and judge it to be a political decision."

What's in it for Japan?

Beyond immediate security concerns, entry to the club would present Tokyo with a historic diplomatic victory.

"[Membership] is a broader expression of its identity, shared interests, and its status as an established Asian democracy that's closely allied to the United States and all of the other partners including Australia," Dr Graham said.

Japan's long-standing as a Western ally has been voiced by the Japanese as part of its bid, including current Defence Minister Taro Kono.

He told the Nikkei Asian Review in early August that Japan and FVEY members "share similar values", and Japan could "get closer" to the bloc.

"If [intelligence requests] are made on a constant basis, then it may be called the 'Six Eyes'," Mr Kono said.

"We will just bring our chair to their table and tell them to count us in."

Of course, Japan's Five Eyes bid can't be considered without the spectre of a more assertive China, which Mr Kono said was one of his "grave" concerns.

"Many countries believe that China is trying to change the status quo unilaterally with the threat of force in the background, including in the East and South China Seas, along the China-India border and in Hong Kong," Mr Kono said.

How likely is Japan's membership?

The road to equal membership will undoubtedly be a slow one, supposing it opens up at all.

"It's a very conservative field," Dr Graham said.

"I think there would be an incremental process built from areas of particular strength which will be compartmentalised."

This process would be akin to a 'Five Eyes-plus' situation, where Japan's involvement would be on probation to "prove its worth and trustworthiness with data", Dr Graham said.

But Japan's new Prime Minister is reported to be less enthusiastic about foreign policy than his predecessor, which could slow progress.

"I would guess [the bid] would be put on ice unless something brews up really fast in Japan's southern islands," Mr Newsham said.

"Suga is a pretty typical politician who is more interested in domestic matters."

Dr Graham suggests this political context gives Mr Suga's incoming defence minister the time to advocate for stronger reforms of Japan's intelligence and security institutions, in order to bring them up to Five Eyes standards.

"In Japan, government departments tend not to coordinate with each other and pursue their own agenda," he said.

"[So membership] really needs to have top-level political backing, and by using foreign pressure, this could result in Japan getting its own house in order."

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