In Japan, espionage is not illegal. Spying is not a crime. Still, Japan and the US share national secrets. Also, in Japan, our personal data, trade secrets, and intellectual properties have no value. If someone steals your password, your designs, a company’s trade secrets, or someone’s intellectual properties, the Japanese law enforcement will likely deny your complaint. It is an unfortunate fact, but few have talked about it.
When a Korean company stole a design from Toshiba, it was only considered a crime because the person used a flash drive from Toshiba to store the stolen design files. If this person had hacked into Toshiba servers through the Internet instead of using a flash drive, Japanese law would have likely not regarded it as a crime. It is considered a crime only when a physical device is used to steal intellectual properties. If the criminal hacked into your computer to steal your design, you need to prove that the data you have and the data the criminal stole is identical. That means you need to hack back into the criminal’s computer to prove they stole the same data from your computer. If you are rich and powerful, the police may assist you but if you are not, you need to prove everything by yourself.
To the Japanese, consensus is the only way to make important decisions over public matters. A consensus of all board members is needed before a company can decide. A consensus of all parliament members is needed before a ministry can produce a rule or law. This is Japanese culture. This culture will not change for decades, coming after WWII. To view it from a negative angle, this culture exists because no Japanese in power likes to take responsibility. If looked at in a positive way, only a decision, a move, or a rule which has survived the scrutiny of all members in power can be implemented. This can stop any absurd, one-sided, temporal, or ill-considered solutions.
As a result, Japanese law severely lags behind the times. The law today is almost the same as a hundred years ago. A hundred years ago, there was no Internet and there were no computers. Every intellectual property needs a paper to be written on. It is why physical properties are the basis of intellectual property theft law in Japan. Therefore, if no physical property is stolen, it is not considered espionage.
As for government-level espionage, many may not know that the current Japanese constitution was originally written in English by a committee led by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. The current Japanese constitution was therefore not drafted in Japanese by Japanese politicians reflecting Japanese values. This is due to Japan’s defeat in World War II. In legal terms Japan is closer to a “state” than a “sovereign nation.” The Japanese Government after World War II was built on the concept of transparency and having a pacifist stance without any ability to defend itself. As a result, Japanese law lacks the concept of “National Security.” There is no applicable law that restricts the activities of foreign spies. This is why Japan is regarded by some as a heaven for spies.
This was not a problem until China’s aggression in the early 2000s. Strategically and tangibly, Japan is the most important nation for the CCP (China Communist Party) to play a dominant role in Asia. An Asia without US influence is the CCP’s goal. To fulfill that goal, the CCP must infiltrate Japan. The lack of espionage laws gives the CCP full authority to legally infiltrate Japan. For the CCP, the most beneficial part of this infiltration is that the US shares national secrets with Japan.
The newly formed Japan Space Army shares DoD satellites of the US Space Army. For the CCP, infiltrating Japan also means to gain access to American secrets legally and covertly. As a result, this became a potentially serious loophole in US national security, but few people knew the threat. When I realized members of the CCP were trying to hack into the Japanese satellite system, I reported the incident to the Japanese government and police. However, nothing was done about it.
The Japanese government’s national security division recently allowed a pro-CCP member to take over the most sensitive Panasonic semiconductor division. In July, Chinese media widely reported that Panasonic’s semiconductor division is willing to help Huawei bypass US government export restrictions and to supply the most advanced semiconductor technology and products. I also reported this case to the Japanese government, as Panasonic’s semiconductor group produces the RF chip for the U.S. DOD and the Japan Self Defense Forces, and they also have IR sensors, GaN, MEMS and technology for 5G antenna chips.
Ironically, Panasonic Semiconductor owns a joint venture with TowerJazz semiconductor who is the tier one supplier to the US defense primes. Panasonic Semiconductor opened a direct channel for the CCP to access US national secrets, and even to put spying devices into the US weaponry system. Unfortunately, the Japan National Security Division believes it is perfectly fine to have a pro-CCP member taking over the most important Panasonic Semiconductor division, even though they utterly understand the risk to both Japan and to the US. Most terribly, the whole Japanese government is completely silent about this serious threat.
Last November, Huawei’s chairman Mr. Liang Hua told a reporter that the company purchased approximately US$10 billion in components from Japan in the end of 2019, so that Huawei could deliver products to customers without relying on the US supply chain. Huawei CEO of Consumer Business, Mr. Yu, ChenDong said publicly “We have created a standard for IoT, and Huawei’s HiLink has received the most extensive support from China and overseas global home appliance manufacturers,” Mr. Yu continued, “Big brands including Siemens, Panasonic, etc. are working with us.” He specifically named Panasonic.