Intelligence: Japan Is Not Secure

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August 16, 2007: Last month, the United States, fearing Japan was unable to keep American technology secrets, halted the shipment of parts needed to upgrade the Aegis radar in the Japanese destroyer Kongo. The upgrade would make the Kongo capable of firing U.S. anti-missile missiles. It all began last March, when it was discovered that details of the U.S. Aegis naval air defense system have been copied and passed around a Japanese Navy school (the First Service School in Etajima.) Japan has always been strict about American military technology it has been entrusted with. But the current scandal apparently goes back nearly ten years. In 1998, an instructor at the First Service School prepared a CDROM disk of instructional material, and put a lot of classified material on it.

That was a major lapse in security, but no one noticed it. Like most Japanese military schools, the students assumed that most of what they learned was useful to potential enemies, and should be kept away from civilians and foreigners. But the CD was copied again and again, and was even given to some students, who then took it with them when they left the school.

The security leak was only discovered when the home of a petty officer, who worked at the school, was raided. The police were investigating the man's wife, a Chinese woman whose immigration status was suspect. During the course of the raid, the Aegis CD was found, someone checked to see if the data on it was classified, and it was. Things went downhill from there, as it was discovered how long ago the suspect CD had been created, and how many copies were out there (no one knew for sure.)

Japan is currently trying to convince the United States to sell it F-22 fighters, which contain even more valuable military secrets. This week, parts for the Kongo resumed shipping, after Japan had agreed to American suggestions for improving security of military technology.

 


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