Japanese government ‘not aware’ of existence of clandestine spy unit
November 28, 2013 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The government of Japan has denied claims made in the media of a clandestine intelligence collection unit, which has allegedly been operating for decades without the knowledge of senior cabinet officials. On Tuesday, the Tokyo-based Kyodo News Agency cited an unnamed former member of Japan’s territorial army, known as Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), who revealed the existence of a previously secret unit. The unit is allegedly tasked with human intelligence (HUMINT) collection and is said to have been operating since before the end of the Cold War. The unnamed source told Kyodo that the unit’s existence has been kept hidden from senior Japanese government officials, including the prime minister and the minister of defense. He also told the news agency that the unit’s existence has been kept secret even from senior commanders inside GSDF. Its headquarters is allegedly based deep in the basement of Japan’s Ministry of Defense, located in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district, in the eastern portion of Shinjuku. However, the unit operates a complex network of safe houses, located mostly in rented commercial properties throughout Japan and Southeast Asia. The source described part of his intelligence training, which he had to undertake before joining the HUMINT unit. He said classes took place at a nondescript GSDF training facility in the western Tokyo suburb of Kodaira. Those trained came almost exclusively from GSDF, with just a handful of officers from Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and Maritime Self-Defense Force. The Kyodo article said the unit inductees are given a “temporary leave of absence” from their GSDF posts and are “prohibited from contacting outsiders” during their HUMINT missions. They are told not to carry identification documents on them and are discouraged from keeping in touch with friends or sending greeting cards on holidays. HUMINT team members are also unaware of each other’s real names, according to the GSDF source. Kyodo also said that approximately half of the team members will typically “mentally break down” during the first few months of operations. The news agency did not specify the source of the HUMINT unit’s funding, though it said that it conducts extensive operations in North Korea, Russia, and Poland, among other overseas targets. On Wednesday, Japan’s Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera, told Kyodo that he was “not aware” of the existence of such an organization.