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Friday, April 07, 2006

Industrial Espionage Major Problem For Japan

Interesting article showing how Japan is targeted by many countries for industrial espionage. While most of it is not a concern for the average person, missile technology and the like is. Unfortunately, it looks to be a growth industry.

In a 2002 case, a trade representative attempted to buy classified missile technology from a member of Japan's Self-Defence Forces.

According to the police, the man pretended to be an Italian consultant when he first approached the Toshiba employee, who has neither been named nor charged with a crime.

"The man told me he was from a different country and said his job was related to business consulting," the Toshiba employee was quoted as telling police. "I later thought something was strange because he asked for documents that I thought were unnecessary for his job.

"I spent the money on having fun," he said.

The Russian man left Japan in June - before the allegations became public - and the National Police Agency has issued orders that he not be allowed to re-enter the country.

The devices reportedly have applications in advanced fighter aircraft, missile guidance systems and submarines.
The biggest problem seems to be Japan's older workers with no particular plan allowing for a comfortable retirement.

Mike O'Keefe, managing director of risk consultants Kroll Japan, says that Japan's labour force is greying, with a lot of engineers approaching retirement age who do not see much in the way of retirement pay awaiting them.

"Some of them take early retirement and get straight on a plane to China to assist one of Japan's competitors; some don't even wait for retirement but go over for the weekend to share what they know"

Toshiba officials, however, dismissed the capabilities and value of the semiconductors allegedly sought by the Russian spy.

"Discrete semiconductors are simple, functional devices such as transistors and diodes, widely used in colour TVs and other home appliances," company official Keisuke Oomori said in a statement.

"It did not include such advanced technologies, products and services that require export licences under Japan's Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law," he said.

Said O'Keefe: "Everyone wants high-tech secrets and protecting them is a challenge, especially when security in Japan is not very high."
The hilarious part of the article was the final paragraph which had absolutely nothing to do with anything discussed.

Japan invaded China in 1937 and is blamed for the massacre of as many as 300,000 civilians in the eastern city of Nanjin.