China’s historic enemy next door- Japan is getting more and more engrossed in anti-Beijing activity. And now China seems to be getting very nervous about Japan’s resurgence as a security-conscious nation. In fact, there have been speculations about Japan joining the world’s most powerful intelligence-gathering alliance- the Five Eyes. Japan has not yet made a move towards joining the intelligence alliance, but China seems to be already turning pale.
Global Times, a state-owned media house that serves as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece, has written an entire op-ed about “Japan’s domestic obstacles” in joining the Five Eyes Alliance. China is simply growing fearful of Japan’s intention to join the intelligence-gathering body. Japan enjoys a geographical advantage when it comes to gathering China-focussed intelligence, which seems to be making China nervous.
Global Times has stated, “Japan has provided intelligence to the US and the UK about the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region “showing evidence of China’s forceful detainment of Muslim Uyghur minority people,” Kyodo News reported in December.” Chinese strategic circles must have grown wary of Japan’s ability, after Tokyo managed to gather intelligence about Uyghur concentration camps.
In fact, Global Times seems to understand that the Uyghur-related intelligence has enhanced Japan’s status. The CCP mouthpiece added, “The intelligence drew strong criticisms from the US and the UK over China’s policy toward ethnic minorities. Some analysts perceive it as an important step for the island nation to join the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance.”
Also, the state-owned publication mentioned how the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US-based think tank, recently published a report in which it suggested that “Washington and Tokyo should make serious efforts to move toward a Six Eyes network.”
Yet, there are several reasons why becoming the sixth eye in the intelligence-gathering body may not be as simple for Tokyo. Japan lacks capability in terms of intelligence-gathering. For a very long time, Japan remained totally pacifist and didn’t feel the need to raise a strong intelligence apparatus. In fact, Japanese laws discourage espionage to some extent.
Also, the island nation isn’t an English-speaking nation, which itself throws a new set of challenges in a group of otherwise English-speaking Anglo-Saxon nations.
Global Times itself mentions all these hurdles in Japan’s entry into the Five Eyes Alliance. Yet, the CCP mouthpiece is concerned about Tokyo’s growing proximity with the intelligence-gathering body. The Chinese publication stated, “Even if Japan does not publically join the alliance, it is possible to strengthen cooperation with the Five Eyes in actions.”
What Beijing probably feels is that Japan may be lacking in terms of capability. But the East Asian nation keeps showing a greater will to cooperate with the Five Eyes. The Five Eyes itself may be ready to cooperate with Japan, because the intelligence-gathering body is itself becoming Asia-centric and China-focussed. Then again, Japan’s geographical location and physical proximity to China gives it a huge advantage.
So, even if Japan doesn’t join the alliance formally, there are no limits to cooperation between the Five Eyes Alliance and Tokyo. In any case, it is China which will have to suffer. Global Times itself alluded to the “Five Eyes Plus One” option in which Japan doesn’t join the Alliance, but still manages to ensure far greater collaboration. The CCP mouthpiece concluded, “Such an intelligence-sharing system may be more likely to become a reality.”
If we were to infer what is going on in the Chinese strategic circles from what Global Times has written, it becomes clear that Beijing is perceiving a threat. The paper dragon has assumed that either Japan would become the sixth eye, or at least, collaborate at a much greater level with the five eyes. In any case, Japan will manage to enhance anti-China intelligence-gathering capabilities inside the Five Eyes Alliance.