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January 28, 2011 / Richard Smart

Ichihashi, Lindsay Ann Hawker and the battle for Gentosha

Beyond the questions of legal right, free speech and ethical questions that followed the story of the publication of the book, ‘A record of my two year seven month void before arrest,’ there is another issue that has so far not been reported: the battle for the ownership of Gentosha Inc.

Gentosha published the book by Tatsuya Ishihashi, which document his time on the run after being accused of killing British citizen Lindsay Ann Hawker, and is currently trying to fend off interference in a management buyout from a company based in the British Cayman Islands.

As the Asahi Shimbun explained in December:

A major battle is brewing between a foreign investment fund and a major Japanese publisher amid growing overseas interest in what experts describe as undervalued Japanese stocks.

Isabel Ltd., based in the Cayman Islands, has been aggressively buying shares of Gentosha Inc., threatening to derail the publisher’s plan to undertake a management buyout (MBO).

Gentosha’s stock price offer for the MBO was apparently below the actual value perceived by Isabel.

Kyodo reports:

Isabel Ltd., based in the British Cayman Islands, said in (a report sent to the Kanto Local Finance Bureau on Jan. 24)  that it holds 28.58% of outstanding shares of Gentosha, equivalent to a stake of 37.48% in terms of voting rights, allowing the fund to veto key proposals at the publisher’s general meetings, such as amending its articles of incorporation.

Whether the release of the Ichihashi memoirs will deter the Cayman company from interfering in the management buyout remains to be seen. As do the motivations for publishing Ichihashi’s book.

* article written in full from RSS sources.

January 10, 2011 / Richard Smart

Japan and Sakhalin – Wikileaks

Japan has been involved in a territorial dispute with Russia since the end of World War II over islands to the north of Hokkaido, including and very close to Sakhalin.

Despite the Kuril Islands disputeThat hasn’t stopped Tokyo is still doing business with Sakhalin, according to one cable:

In a recent meeting with Embassy officials in Sakhalin, Shell oil representatives stated that no LNG (liquified natural gas) had been shipped from the Sakhalin II facility to the U.S. due to soft prices in that market. Much of this LNG has been shipped to Japan instead.

Business is business, after all.

January 4, 2011 / Rick Martin

New cables on China’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test

Norwegian paper Aftenposen has released two cables relating to the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test (Wikipedia entry on the incident here):

There is one potential inaccuracy to watch out for in coverage of this leaked cable. The first report that I saw of this was on, where the headline unfortunately/incorrectly states ‘Wikileaks: China shot down American satellite.’ The satellite was China’s own, so lets hope no one is so sloppy as to run with that one.

As for the cables themselves, the second one is the most interesting read, covering a number of American talking points on the missile test and concerns for their interests in space. Afterposen‘s article on the cables is here. I’ll pass on commenting as my Norwegian is lacking…

As far as I can understand, these two cables seem to be exclusively released by Aftenposten, which according to Wikipedia is the country’s largest so I expect the cables are legit. Surprisingly they, like The Guardian, have access to all 250,000+ cables with a post on their site saying:

“Internet site Wikileaks has obtained more than 250 000 documents from U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Aftenposten has gained access to all documents without any clauses. The documents will be continually reviewed as the basis of articles by the same editorial criteria and ethical rules as the rest of the Evening Post’s journalism. E-mail to the editors:” (Google translation)

I wonder if Aftenposen is open to inquiries like the Guardian? Better still, I wonder how many media orgs here in Japan or China are inquiring? Admittedly none of the Asia-related leaks have been earth shattering so far (I asked a while back ‘Is it anything?‘) but there are still a LOT more cables to go.

For me, the more interesting story is how Wikileaks (and clones) have been and will continue to be transformative forces in media in this new decade.

Further reading: Google results for ‘China’ + ‘Satellite’ from January 2007

January 4, 2011 / Richard Smart

The fifth leak on whaling

On Jan. 3, many media organizations picked up on Wikileaks‘ cables coming from Japan. See a good overview here.

However, most missed a leak that came from Australia on the subject, which summarizes Canberra’s opposition to an attempted deal that would have seen the practice legalized with certain restrictions.

Canberra’s opposition to that deal can be summarised as followed:

Garrett Chief of Staff David Williams told econoff that the GOA could accept a compromise that delivers a much lower level of whaling, but it has to be accompanied by signals of commitment to address other key issues – sustaining the commercial moratorium, keeping whaling out of the southern sanctuary areas and Australian antarctic waters, bringing all whaling under the control of the IWC, and preventing future scientific whaling. Absent any signals on these areas, Garrett and other political leaders will be under consistent attack on a deal that only addresses
numbers, however low.

Later, I will discuss more comprehensive search techniques for people using Wikileaks and hopefully complete a detailed post on what the cables released Jan. 3 tell us.

December 30, 2010 / Richard Smart

Japan and terrorism – the emerging story

So far, the documents that mention Japan in the Wikileaks U.S. State Department cables have proven by and large a dull affair. One man, however, stands out – Lionel Dumont.

Clearly, Dumont ought to be avoided. A former French soldier, Dumont converted to Islam after serving in Somalia. After this, his life took him to war-torn Yugoslavia, where he would be arrested and convicted of murdering a police officer. Escaping from jail in Sarajevo, Dumont fled to Japan, where he was eventually arrested before being extradited to France, where he was convicted of a number of violent crimes in absentia.

The picture painted of Dumont and the risk of a Japan terrorist cell in the cables, however, is very different to that described by correspondents based here.

According to one cable: “Dumont spent a number of years in Japan, and is suspected of building links there to Islamic extremism.” This, argues the U.S. State Department, demonstrates that “Islamic political extremism in France takes on many forms: it has bubbled up on its own, in cooperation with other autonomous groups, and also in cooperation with al-Qaida linked groups.”

Months before, another cable had explained how at a dinner with French terrorism investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, Dumont’s name had been mentioned in connection to an increase in terrorism in Asia.

Bruguiere … cited Asia as a particular area of  concern. He and (his coworker Jean-Francois) Ricard had discovered a Japan-based network after arresting and interrogating French citizen and longtime Japanese resident Lionel Dumont.

But to what extent the State Department can use Japan as an example of a country that is at risk of becoming the center for a terrorist plot is up for question. In a description of the investigation by the Associated Press, Eric Talmadge notes:

“Dumont is suspected of trying to establish an al-Qaeda cell to carry out a terrorist attack, Japanese media have reported, quoting anonymous police officials who called him a ‘senior al-Qaeda member.’

“But French authorities say that is ‘largely exaggerated.'”

It certainly does not seem that any terrorist organization was found to be operational in Japan. In an interview with The Japan Times, one man arrested in the investigation that followed the capture of Dumont protests his innocence and explains the damage the investigation did to his family and his business.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Muslims affected by a recent leak of police investigations in Japan. Those Muslims have said they are shocked by investigations into their community, that seem to have led to dead ends.

Whether Wikileaks will give us a more detailed idea of the “war on terrorism” over the coming months is as yet unknown. There are, however, 166 cables set to be released from Tokyo labeled “terrorists and terrorism (PTER).” Current documents and knowledge of Japan’s “war on terrorism,” however, suggest there is little to fear living in this country, unless you are a Muslim.

December 20, 2010 / Richard Smart

Wikileaks and Japan — an idea of what to expect (3)

With so few cables discussing Japan so far released, understanding the implications of Cablegate can be a challenge. There are, however, techniques that allow us to set a basis now for future analyzes of the cables. Previously, we have on this site discussed the way currently released subject lines offer clues as to U.S. dealings with Japan, and how an awareness of historical events can be used to predict, or request a look at, unreleased cables. A search for the word Tokyo, rather than Japan, can also be helpful.

The U.S. State Department refers to Japan as “Japan” (rather than Tokyo, land of the rising sun, etc.) This means that Japan references are talking ABOUT the country. It appears, however, that the word “Tokyo,” means in general that a document should be shared with the Tokyo Embassy, and thus represents a subject that the U.S. is discussing WITH Japan. *1

What does this mean? Essentially, the Cables can be read in two ways. One set, in which the name of a country is searched for, represents the U.S. State Department’s opinion of a nation. A second set, in which a nation’s capital is searched for, represents the U.S. State Department’s opinion on what information selected embassies CCed on cables should be aware of, for whatever reason.

The second search, which refers to capitals rather than countries, allows us to narrow down our view of the United States. One cable in particular that includes the keyword Tokyo illustrates this point.

Lee Kuan Yew on Burma’s “stupid” generals and the “gambler” Chen Shui-Bian, dated Oct. 17, 2007, includes a section on the Minister Mentor of Singapore’s opinion on the way Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda could help change Taiwanese politics:

Japan should speak out to restrain Taiwan from making provocative moves towards independence, MM Lee said. He asked what Japan had agreed to do in response to the proposed referendum on joining the UN under the name Taiwan. DAS Christensen noted that Japan has expressed its opposition privately with President Chen, but did not agree to make any public statements opposing the referendum. MM Lee suggested that Japan might be willing to make a public statement now with Yasuo Fukuda serving as prime minister. Fukuda has close ties to the KMT and his father even risked China’s ire to attend former President Chiang Ching-kuo’s funeral in 1988, according to Lee.

the cable states.

Clearly, the news of this cable that discusses Japan made it at least as far as Tokyo. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo was, at the very least, aware that Singapore wished to see Japan intervene in Taiwan’s political process in connection to China.

As much cannot be said for the cable Ambassador’s parting thoughts on taking the Dutch, in which a U.S diplomat documents the strategic importance on working together with the Netherlands on numerous strategic issues. We are yet to find out whether or not Ambassador Clifford Sobel opinion that the Dutch “presence provided the political and military cover necessary for Japan to commit forces.” We can, however, infer, that despite Japan’s strategic importance is as an ally, it is still seen as part of a bigger picture.

Perhaps this should not be a surprise, but it is noteworthy for those looking to place Japan in the larger world.

The cables shared with the Tokyo not mentioning Japan so far read as diplomatic “press releases,” presenting U.S. perspectives on other nations and discussing matters that seem unrelated to Japan.

Some 99 percent of the U.S. cables are, however, still to be released, and it is likely that there will be revelations in their contents. For those wishing to find information quickly on Japan, as well as searching for the country’s name, searching for “Tokyo” offers further clues to the nation’s place in the world as it is seen by the U.S. State Department.

For looking into this series of leaks, the website Cablesearch has so far proved the best tool for me.

EDITS *1: Often, in cables where the word Tokyo can be found, it is in a header that operates seemingly as a CC. As such, Tokyo mentions do not necessarily mean the cable includes Japanese involvement or discussion of Japan, but rather mean that the U.S. Embassy in Japan has been sent the information. (Added after a comment via Twitter from ourmaninabiko)

December 19, 2010 / Richard Smart

U.S. security priorities in Japan – Wikileaks

This cable is one of the most controversial released by Wikileaks and media organizations so far during the Cablegate affair.

Summarizing the contents of the leak, which outlines the U.S. National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), the State Department says:

The overarching goal of the NIPP is to build a safer, more secure, and more resilient America by enhancing protection of the nation’s CI/KR (critical infrastructure and key resources) to prevent, deter, neutralize or mitigate the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate or exploit them; and to strengthen national preparedness, timely response, and rapid recovery in the event of an attack, natural disaster or other emergency.

Here are the locations that the U.S. State Department sees as key in Japan (marked on the above map):

Details Location
C2C Cable Network undersea cable landing Chikura, Japan
C2C Cable Network undersea cable landing Shima, Japan
China-US undersea cable Okinawa, Japan
EAC undersea cable landing Ajigaura, Japan
EAC undersea cable landing Shima, Japan
FLAG/REACH North Asia Loop undersea cable landing Wada, Japan
Japan-US undersea cable landing Maruyama, Japan
Japan-US undersea cable landing Kitaibaraki, Japan
KJCN undersea cable landing Fukuoka, Japan
KJCN undersea cable landing Kita-Kyushu, Japan
Pacific Crossing-1 (PC-1) undersea cable landing Ajigaura, Japan
Pacific Crossing-1 (PC-1) undersea cable landing Shima, Japan
Tyco Transpacific undersea cable landing Toyohashi, Japan
Tyco Transpacific undersea cable landing Emi, Japan
Hitachi, Hydroelectric Dam Turbines and Generators
Port of Chiba Port of Chiba
Port of Kobe Port of Kobe
Port of Nagoya Port of Nagoya
Port of Yokohama Port of Yokohama
Iodine Mine (mostly Chiba?)
Metal Fabrication Machines Titanium null
Metal (Processed) Biken, Kanonji City, Japan Kanonji City, Japan
Hitachi Elec. Power Generators & Components Large AC Generators above 40 MVA null

The data is not so surprising: It explains that the State Department sees Japan’s strategic importance coming through its industry, its ports and the data that travels via undersea cables that pass through the country. One anomaly: There seems to be little of concern to the U.S. State Department in the north of Japan.

A good summary of the global implications of this leak is available here. Wikipedia has also done a good job of sorting out the data on this cable.

Map, table made by Rick Martin. Additional data available here.

December 3, 2010 / Rick Martin

The last word on objectivity

I was just reading a post by Alan Mutter entitled ‘Objective’ journalism is over, Let’s move on which reminded me of a lively Twitter debate among some Japan-based people on this very topic.

The takeaway from Alan’s article: Read more…

December 1, 2010 / Richard Smart

Wikileaks and Japan – an idea of what to expect (1985-1995)

As well as revealing the keywords for leaks, Wikileaks has also so far revealed the dates of the documents it has obtained from Tokyo Embassy. With more time, and if in need of doing so, it is possible to cross reference documents against significant events.

A simple example of what is missing from the files: There are no leaks from around the date Sept. 11, 2001.

The leaks become a flood around 2005, with none for a decade before that year. but before that there are only seven leaks, dating between Jan. 8, 1985 and March 20, 1995. Here we will look at the potential contents of some of those leaks.

Jan. 8, 1985 (EFIS, JA, IWC-2): This leak will tackle whaling, two years before a ban . EFIS stands for commercial fishing and fish processing, according to research using the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Handbook. IWC is the International Whaling Commission, and JA is of course Japan. Whaling was not banned for commercial purposes until 1986 (when the 1987 catch was set to take place, see here.)

July 4, 1985 (PTER , PREL): PTER stands for terrorists and terrorism. PREL stands for international relations. Big terrorist events around this date? A Provisional Irish Republican Army bombing campaign had just been foiled, and Japan may have had reason to discuss that. But the date is also six days before the Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk in Auckland.

March 2, 1990 (PREL, JA): No idea. Any help appreciated.

Feb. 23, 1991 (MARR, PTER, JA): MARR stands for military and defense arrangements. Possibly related to Japan’s $10 billion financial support for the first Gulf War.

April 1, 1992 (EFIN, JA): EFIN stands for financial and monetary affairs. Possibly relates to Taiyo Kobe Mitsui Bank, which renamed itself on this day, or the bursting of the Japanese bubble as a whole.

June 21, 1993 (PINR, PINS, PROP, MNUC, KN, KS, JA): PINR stands for intelligence; PINS national security, PROP propaganda and psychological operations, MNUC military nuclear operations, KN North Korea and KS Kosovo. As a G-7 summit took place in Tokyo two weeks after this, it likely relates to security for the event. Perhaps a threat assessment.

March 20, 1995 (PREL, ASEAN, APEC, NPT, UNSC, BX, JA): Nuclear negotiations. Most countries extended the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty indefinitely and without conditions in May of this year.

November 30, 2010 / Richard Smart

Wikileaks and Japan – an idea of what to expect (1)

As Japan Probe correctly points out, most data released via Wikileaks on Japan on Nov. 29 was tedious. Nothing to see there. However, no analysis has yet appeared of what we can garner from the teaser released yesterday by Julian Assange’s organization.

5697 cables of 251,287 total cables list the US Embassy in Tokyo as the origin.
Source: The Guardian,  (Google Fusion Tables)

First, the Japan leaks that are yet to be released show activity at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is dominated by a small amount of subjects (note that most leaks will include more than one subject) :

KEY (1)

  • PGOV    Internal Governmental Affairs
  • KPAO     Public Affairs Office
  • OIIP    International Information Programs
  • KMDR     Media Reaction Reporting
  • ECON     Economics
  • PREL    External Political Relations
  • PINR    Intelligence
  • ELAB    Labor Sector Affairs

The above image shows all subjects within the Japan leaks that are mentioned more than 1,000 times (notably, labor sector affairs are mentioned some 1,861, with a massive gap then following to foreign trade, which is mentioned 445 times.

The issues that will dominate leaks (in terms of volume): Internal government affairs, public affairs, international information programs, media reaction reporting, economics, external political relations, intelligence and labor sector affairs.

Meanwhile, the following subjects were mentioned in more than 100 leaks:

KEY (2)

  • PGOV    Internal Governmental Affairs
  • KPAO     Public Affairs Office
  • OIIP    International Information Programs
  • KMDR     Media Reaction Reporting
  • ECON     Economics
  • PREL    External Political Relations
  • PINR    Intelligence
  • ELAB    Labor Sector Affairs
  • ETRD    Foreign Trade
  • PARM    Arms Controls and Disarmament
  • MARR    Military and Defense Arrangements
  • ENRG    Energy and Power
  • PHUM    Human Rights
  • EFIN    Financial and Monetary Affairs
  • KNNP    Nuclear Non- Proliferation
  • CH    China (Mainland)
  • KN    Korea (North)
  • EAGR    Agriculture and Forestry
  • KS    Korea (South)
  • EAID    Foreign Economic Assistance
  • SENV    Environmental Affairs
  • PTER    Terrorists and Terrorism
  • OTRA    Travel
  • IR    Iran
  • ETTC    Trade and Technology Controls
  • MNUC    Military Nuclear Applications
  • TBIO    Biological and Medical Science
  • KSCA    Science Counselors and Attachés
  • EINV    Foreign Investments
  • SOCI    Social Conditions

Human rights, China, terrorism and Iran all make appearances. The story of the last 65 years in Japan is arguably the story of its relationship with the international community and the way that its alliance with the United States has effected Its global position. The Wikileaks documents will give plenty of food for thought for those interested in that story. A clearer picture of Japan, and the way it is viewed by its ally across the Pacific is sure to emerge.

A written collaboration between Rick Martin and Richard Smart