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Japan’s role in US data gathering

Written by: (Contributed) on 28 April 2020


Recent developments in Japan have revealed the importance of the country for US-led regional foreign policy: the size of the government economic stimulus package; the planned resurrection of ailing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe onto a high-level stage of global diplomacy, despite his personal and political failings.

Behind the scenes, however, lie vital US military intelligence networks which rely heavily upon Japan as a host country. Japan is strategically placed to serve 'US interests'.

US regional diplomatic hostilities toward China have, therefore, drawn Japan, and by alliance, Australia, ever closer to 'real-war scenarios'.
There are also other equally important considerations, with far-reaching implications, closer to home.
Japan has a central position of importance for US foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region. It is not difficult to assess the significance of the close diplomatic relationship between the two countries and how the US imperialists are now frantically propping up the ruling administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The immense size of the recent second economic stimulus package, standing at $989 billion, amounts to about twenty per cent of the country's GDP. (1) Secondly, despite being embroiled in a scandal casting serious doubts about strength of personal character, which have seriously affected opinion poll ratings, Shinzo Abe has been asked to lead 'the international response to the coronavirus'. (2)
Japan retains vital strategic importance for US-led regional positions and military facilities as a northern 'hub' for 'US interests; Australia is the southern counterpart in a three-way diplomatic relationship.
The US 7th fleet is central to Pentagon military planning for the Asia-Pacific region, for example, and is based at Yokosuka, Japan. The vast zone of operation of the fleet stretches from the India-Pakistan border (70 degrees east) in the west, to the International Time Line (180 degrees) in the east and from the Kuril Islands (45 degrees north) in the north to Antarctica (65 degrees south) in the south. The US intelligence facility based on Diego Garcia lies just inside the western border of operation, linked to Pine Gap in central Australia. (3) It is not by coincidence the vast area also contains strategic landmarks for the Island Chain Theory of US-led regional foreign policy and diplomacy.
The Ocean Surveillance Information System
Japan is also the main conduit for the US-led Ocean Surveillance Information System (OSIS), a global network of surveillance facilities using satellites and other sensor systems. (4) Its function is to 'receive all intelligence of interest' from those under surveillance. (5)
Strategically placed between 30-40 degree north, the Japan-based facilities at Misawa are directly linked to the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, which has close involvement with space programs. Two other ground-based additions to the system include Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and the Griesheim Base in Germany. (6)
The area covered by the four-way OSIS system covers the Asia-Pacific region and also sensitive parts of Europe and the Middle East. The OSIS system, ostensibly, is aimed at adversaries which threaten the US, drawing Japan and Australia into the likelihood of real-war scenarios, in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.
The relationship of the OSIS system with the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is unclear. It would appear highly likely, however, the GSOMIA is a component part of the bigger, more comprehensive, OSIS network, linking Japanese intelligence facilities with South Korean counterparts. (7)
Macro-matters, however, merge with micro-considerations; the latter is inseparable from the former as part of the massive wave of US-led militarism sweeping the Asia-Pacific region.
The concept of 'the enemy within' is an obsession with the US-led intelligence services. It is, therefore, important to note the German-based corner of the system at Griesheim hosts sensitive Echelon telecommunications facilities. (8) The Echelon spy system is a global network of surveillance stations that 'can eavesdrop on telephones, faxes and computers. It can even track bank accounts’. (9)
Based at Fort Meade, Maryland, deep in the heart of Pentagon planning, the main US-led Echelon system is linked into Five Eyes facilities through the GCHQ in Cheltenham, UK. The computer-based facilities are programmed with 'trigger words' listed as dictionaries. Once a trigger is activated, all communications between servers and served, are recorded and analysed for intelligence purposes. (10) It does not take much imagination for progressive-minded people to note the trigger words. They are hardly likely to be 'profit' or 'professional behaviour'; 'picket-lines' and 'communist' are far more likely.
Data collection and the surveillance state
A further addition to the massive US-led OSIS system is likely to be the new 'soon-to-be-released' COVID-19 contact tracing app, where smart-phones are programmed to register a contact if they come within 1.5 meters for fifteen minutes or longer. It has quite rightfully raised serious questions about civil liberties. The transaction will register the user's names, contact details, age range and postcode. (11) While few people would question the necessity of isolating COVID-19 carriers, the ability of those in control of class and state power to abuse their powers is obvious. (12)
Whatever happened to public meetings and the right of opposition movements to protest?
The ability of telephone companies to record metadata for contact tracing capability is already available under national security legislation and the Telecommunications Data Retention Act, 2015. The new app makes it all the easier for governments to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for draconian measures.
Examples of those in control of class and state powers going beyond ethical and legislative requirements is not particularly difficult to establish from information in the public domain.
Just consider what those concerned actually did when they collected all medical records into one filing system, making it accessible to all those employed in the medical profession. Any notion of confidentiality suddenly became a redundant concept. It was only a trade union-based campaign to enable people to 'opt out' of the centralised medical filing system that prevented Australian employers and their company goons hoarding vast piles of confidential information about working people for use with whatever nefarious motive they saw fit, with a total lack of realistic accountability.
An official enquiry into Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, likewise, revealed widespread corruption and illegal use of personal information for spurious motives. Those in control of Facebook were responsible for registering every single telecommunications contact by users with metadata for several years as a prelude for establishing engagement programs such as 'People you may Know', without any consent. (13) Historical parallels are not difficult to establish: Franz Kafta wrote 'The Trial' about such social situations, where class and state power were taken to ridiculous extremes with total lack of accountability; the plight of an individual lay in the hands of those who made judgements, with far-reaching implications, yet hid behind walls of silence and 'plausible denial'.
Such facilities, in the hands of CentreLink and Medicare, would become truly mind-boggling for ordinary Australian working people who have already had to deal with their dysfunctional and conspiratorial behaviour for decades. The dividing lines between non-fiction and fiction appear to merge for the government department concerned. Franz Kafka’s novels can be interpreted as contemporary allegories: 'The Castle' (1926) about an individual dealing with such social predicaments, 'Metamorphosis' (1915) about the ruling class’s profiling techniques and 'In the Penal Settlement' (1919) about their vision of a future Australian society with criminology for their clients.
With developments such as these taking place at a macro and micro level: We need an independent foreign policy as the first step toward establishing an independent, democratic and socialist government in Canberra!
1.     Abe unveils 'massive' coronavirus stimulus worth 20% of GDP, The Japan Times, 6 April 2020.
2.     Abe asked to lead world response, Australian, 9 April 2020.
3.     Map of the World, Peters Projection, Actual Size, Scale – 1:1,230,000,000.
4.     The US Ocean Surveillance Information System (OSIS), 12., The Tools of Owatatsumi, Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter, (ANU, 2015), pp. 93-97.
5.     Ibid., page 93.
6.     Ibid., page 96; and, Griesheim,, 16 January 2008.
7.     The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA, Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
8.     OSIS., op.cit., footnote 13.
9.     The Echelon spy network, The Guardian (U.K.), 30 May 2001.
10.   Ibid.
11.   Phone tracker data safety 'must be guaranteed', Australian, 21 April 2020.
12.   Editorial, Selling the surveillance state, Australian, 18 April 2020.
13.   Facebook discussed selling user data, Australian, 30 November 2018; and, Facebook caught trying to collect user details, Australian, 7 December 2018.
See also: The Untold Story of Japan's Secret Spy Agency


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