It Looks Isalmic So Let's Monitor It.
It Looks Isalmic So Let’s Monitor It.

Shortly after the radical Islamic terrorist attack in Nice, France on July 14, 2016 New Gingrich, a prominent U.S. political commentator and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, recommended a change in U.S. counter terrorism policy. He said that American intelligence agencies need to more closely scrutinize mosques in the U.S. in order to prevent future radical Islamic terrorist attacks on American soil. The proposal drew the predictable reactions from the usual suspects all across the U.S. political spectrum. And while currently the U.S. government does not routinely monitor Islamic mosques or Muslims one U.S. ally does so with gusto: Japan.

Foreign security officials who will be responsible for the safety of participants and spectators who will travel to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics should understand the policy of the Japanese government. Any Muslims who will travel to Japan will likely be the target of government investigation and surveillance while in Japan.

The Japanese Government Can Monitor Anyone and Anything Islamic as Long as It Does So Secretly

This surveillance came to light recently via publication of a Japan Supreme Court ruling. More information about the  court ruling is here, here, here, and here. In short, Japan’s courts ruled that the Japanese government can monitor Muslims and anything Islamic for domestic security purposes. The mere fact a person is Muslim justifies government surveillance and collection of information about that individual. The mere fact an organization has Islamic associations (mosques are the most obvious example) justifies government surveillance and collection of information about that organization and related individuals.

In a strange bureaucratic twist (at least to this American’s way of thinking) that could only occur in Japan the Muslim plaintiffs simultaneously won and lost. A Muslim in Japan monitored by the police cannot successfully sue to stop the monitoring. But the same Muslim can force the police to pay him damages if the police publicly disclose the information they collected about him.  And that is what happened. Someone in the Japanese government placed information collected about specific Muslims on an insecure server. The server was then hacked and the information the government had collected about the Muslims in Japan was published on open Internet sites.

However, per the court rulings, the Japanese government can continue to surveil all things Muslim as long as it keeps secret the information gained by the surveillance. In the claim reported in the linked articles above the Japanese government had to pay damages to the Muslims it monitored for the violation of their privacy that resulted from the hacking of the government server.

What does all of this have to do with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics? Well, many Muslims will travel to Japan for the Olympics. While they are in Japan there is a high likelihood the Japanese government will monitor them and gather information. The government agencies that could monitor Muslims at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are: the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (when it issues a visa for travel to Japan); the Japan Ministry of Justice (via the Japan Immigration Agency and the Public Security Intelligence Agency); the various Japanese prefectural police departments; and the Japan National Police Agency.

Sometimes the agencies in question will monitor foreign Muslims at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in an open way (e.g., an applicant for a Japanese visa knowingly provides information to the foreign government that will issue the visa and a visitor to Japan talks directly with immigration officials when entering Japan). Even so, these Japanese government agencies will obtain and retain information that identifies Muslims who visit Japan for the Olympics.

How Do I Secretly Monitor Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.

Other Japanese government agencies will monitor foreign Muslims in Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by using secret techniques. The two government entities that will do most of this monitoring will be the the Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSIA) and Japan’s various prefectural police departments under the supervision of the National Police Agency (NPA). Based upon the linked news reports and the writer’s experience in Japan it is likely the following techniques will be used to monitor Muslims in Japan:

  1. Obtain information from Japanese staff at the Olympic village and other Olympic venues. This can include information about people who visit Muslim athletes at the Olympic village; information about the times Muslims enter and leave the Olympic village each day; information about doctor visits by Muslims at the Olympic village; information about the food the Muslims eat (maybe they will eat some juicy Japanese style pork cutlets!), etc.
  2. Obtain information from all security monitoring systems at every Olympic site (electronic access control systems, video monitoring systems, etc.).
  3. Obtain information from ongoing monitoring at mosques and locations of other Islamic organizations in Japan when foreign Muslims in Japan visit those locations.
  4. Obtain information about the people foreign Muslims visit in Japan. Japan may get requests from foreign governments to watch certain Muslims who travel to Japan. If these “targets” visit a Muslim residing in Japan information about that visit (both the visitor and the host) will flow back to the foreign government that originally made the request for information.
  5. Obtain Information from Japanese companies providing services at the Olympic village (e.g., a bank could provide information about money transfers, including account numbers; a travel agency could provide information about train and other travel bookings made by Muslim athletes, etc.).
  6. In the event the Japanese government wants more information about a particular foreign Muslim at the games it can arrange for a Japanese volunteer Olympic guide to directly “assist” the person of interest.

In short, Japan will use various techniques and tradecraft traditionally employed by most intelligence and security agencies around the world. The one technique that might not be used is electronic surveillance of video, audio, and written communications. Except for some extreme situations Japanese law does not allow this investigative technique, at least in criminal investigations. However, based upon a total of nine years of working with Japanese law enforcement and intelligence agencies the writer is certain that either the PSIA or the NPA or both would secretly monitor telephonic, e-mail, and other conversations if they believed the situation justified it. This information could never be used in a Japanese court but that would not be a problem since the information would not be collected for use in a prosecution. Indeed, the Japan times article linked above reported that, “that police had at times planted cameras inside mosques…”.

Foreign security officials responsible for the safety of Muslims who travel to Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics might shrug at the information gathering and consider it to be a minor nuisance. But those who are monitored can suffer inconvenient effects long after the Olympics. Consider the following examples:

  • Japan will keep the information about foreign Muslims it gathers for years. Japan also sometimes shares terror threat information with other countries, especially other industrialized countries. Information about a Muslim in Japan could make its way to third countries and result in denial of a visa, inclusion on the U.S. “No Fly” list, or a myriad of other consequences.
  • If Japan collects information about a Muslim visitor’s foreign bank account it might share that information with a foreign government. In turn, that foreign government might monitor or blacklist transactions with the bank account and other linked financial accounts.
  • Just as a leak of Japanese government information led to the lawsuit discussed above, information (accurate or not) about foreign Muslims at the Olympics and held by the Japanese government could be mistakenly released into the public domain. Japanese bureaucrats are detail oriented and this information could discuss dietary habits, health records, bank account numbers, ATM passwords, credit card information, dates of birth, personal hygiene habits, passport numbers, visits to Internet sites, etc., etc., etc.

Grin and Bear It

There is no way to prevent the Japanese government from collecting information about Muslims who will travel to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, foreign safety and security officials who will be responsible for the safety and security of Muslims who travel to Japan for the Olympics should inform them about Japan’s Muslim monitoring programs. They should be advised that anything they do while in Japan could be recorded by the Japanese government and shared with other countries. In this way the Muslims who are targets of this surveillance will at least know of the monitoring and be able to make informed decisions about what they do, whom they see, and anything else they do while in Japan.


Airports in Tokyo Have Seen Terrorist Attacks and Plots in the Past

First the airport, next Haiga Sophia!
First the airport, next Haiga Sophia!

The terrorist shooting attack and bombings at Istanbul airport on June 28, 2016 kept many travel security professionals around the world up all night. Foreign security officials responsible for the health and safety of overseas spectators and participants at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics may wonder if the airports in Tokyo can be the targets of terror attacks during the Tokyo Summer Games.

Sad to say, the airports in Tokyo are just as vulnerable to terror attacks as any other major airport in the world. By way of background, Tokyo has two airports. Haneda Airport  is close to the center of Tokyo (approximately 10 miles away) and handles primarily domestic flights although it does have a significant number of international flights as well. Narita Airport is much further from downtown Tokyo (approximately 45 miles away). Narita airport handles around 90% of foreign flights serving the Tokyo market. Although it handles relatively little traffic now, Ibaraki Airport will likely be used during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to handle the large number of foreign visitors to Japan. Ibaraki Airport is smaller than either Haneda Airport or Narita Airport and is also approximately 45 miles from central Tokyo.

Although recent history has not seen any terrorist threats to any of the above three airports Narita Airport is no stranger to terrorist attacks or thwarted  plans for terrorist attacks. Perhaps the most notorious and ambitious terrorist plan to target Narita Airport is the so-called Bojinka plot of 1995. Terrorists planned to simultaneously explode bombs mid-air on airplanes that departed from Narita Airport as well as airports in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. As noted in the linked Wikipedia article one flight from Manila to Narita Airport was bombed mid-flight while in Japanese airspace. This bombing was part of the practice for the Bojinka plot. The plane was able to land but the blast killed one passenger.

In 1985 a bomb was loaded on a flight from Vancouver Canada to Narita Airport and exploded in the baggage handling section of the terminal building. Two baggage handlers were killed. The plotters who planted that bomb also planted a bomb on an Air India flight from Canada to the UK. Just about an hour after the explosion at Narita Airport the other bomb caused the Air India flight to crash near Ireland with no survivors.

In 1982 a Pan Am flight from Narita Airport to Hawaii suffered a bomb blast shortly before arrival at Honolulu. The aircraft suffered damage but the crew was able to land it safely. The blast killed one passenger and injured 16 others.

Noteworthy is the fact that in 1982 Pan Am bombing Narita was one of the most heavily guarded and policed airports in the developed world. The linked Wikipedia article discusses the violent protests against operation of the airport as does this article in the Japan Times. As the writer knows from personal experience the security measure at Narita Airport in 1982 included an off-airport security check for everyone headed to the airport and strict checks of all passenger baggage.

From his time serving at the Legal Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo the writer knows that security at Narita airport has been defeated before. One time two people who wanted to enter the U.S. illegally for jobs took a flight on a U.S. carrier from an Asian country to Narita. The two subjects hid themselves in a service area above the ceiling of one of the aircraft lavatories. Several hours later the same plane left Narita for the U.S. The two subjects then came down into the lavatory and looked for empty seats in the plane for the rest of the journey to the U.S. Unfortunately for them there were no empty seats. They were discovered and the plane returned to Narita. Needless to say, the two subjects had false passports which they planned to use to enter the U.S.

But Narita Airport in Tokyo cannot claim a monopoly in Japan on aviation terror incidents. Haneda Airport was the point of origin for All Nippon Airways Flight 61. This flight occurred on July 23, 1999. The hijacker temporarily took control of the flight (a Boeing 747) and inflicted fatal injuries on the pilot before he was subdued. The hijacker, Yuji Nishizawa, implemented the hijacking with a knife he smuggled onto the plane. Nishizawa carefully reviewed security procedures at Japanese airports and noticed a way to smuggle a knife through the security checkpoint (more details on his method are listed in the body of the linked Wikipedia article).

The purpose of this post is to point out that foreign security officials who will work at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics should understand that terror threats are a real possibility at Japanese airports and on flights to and from Japan.


Does The Orlando Terrorist Attack Mean There Will Be Terror in Tokyo?


The recent terror attack in Orlando, Florida is still being investigated and final conclusions regarding the motivations of the shooter, his likely associations with radical Islamic terrorist groups, etc. will not be fully known by the public for days or weeks. In the meantime, security and safety officials from outside of Japan responsible for visitors and participants at the 2020 Olympics might wonder if something similar to the Orlando terrorist attack could occur at the Tokyo Olympic Games. This post will review some pertinent factors of the terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016 and consider whether or not those factors are relevant to security and safety officials planning for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Reports Indicate the Shooter was a Muslim Born in the U.S.

The Muslim population of Japan is very small, probably around 100,000. And not all Muslims residing in Japan are Japanese nationals. Unlike in the U.S., birth in Japan does not confer citizenship. Absent specific naturalization procedures under Japanese law a child born in Japan will have the nationality of at least one of his parents, not Japanese nationality. So compared to the U.S. and many European countries in Japan the number of immigrants, including Muslims, is much smaller both numerically and as a percentage of population. Therefore, it would be a challenge for radical Islamic terrorists to recruit one or more people in Japan to commit a terrorist attack at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

However, news reports assert ISIS took responsibility for the terrorist attack in Orlando. Terrorist groups such as ISIS think long term and look for opportunities to stage attacks that will garner large amounts of publicity. Surely one or more people at ISIS realize that a murderous attack during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will generate huge amounts of international publicity for them. So even though the Muslim population in Japan is limited it is conceivable ISIS will be able to find sympathizers in Japan to mount a terrorist attack on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And the fact the Tokyo Olympics are more than four years in the future is an advantage – that provides plenty of time to recruit one or more terrorists to kill dozens or even hundreds of innocent people and dominate world headlines for weeks.

During the Orlando Terror Attacks the Shooter Killed With Firearms

Possession of firearms is legal throughout the U.S. and they are relatively easy to obtain. In Japan, however, firearms and even ammunition are strictly regulated and extremely rare. Illegal possession of a firearm or even one round of ammunition are serious crimes under Japanese law. So, the chances of a terrorist using firearms to attack the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are very low.

Although difficult, it is possible to procure firearms in Japan. As a Special Agent for the FBI I investigated Japanese mobsters attempting to smuggle firearms from the U.S. to Japan. Japanese police told me criminals patiently smuggle firearms into Japan piece by piece over a period of weeks or months. And firearms have been used to commit crimes in Japan.

And now with 3D printing technology it is possible to create a firearm in any industrialized country (e.g., Japan). This Wikipedia article has more information. The same article also reports that in May, 2014 in Japan Yoshimoto Imura was arrested for creating a firearm using 3D printing technology. Imura was discovered by the Japanese police only because he was stupid enough to post blueprints and video of his firearms to the internet.

Although difficult, clearly it is possible to use a firearm to commit an Orlando style terror attack in Japan. But if a firearm is not available other weapons can be produced. The weapons used for the terror attacks during the Boston Marathon were homemade pressure cooker bombs. For someone who is dedicated (perhaps a radical Islamic terrorist?) and who has plenty of time (the Tokyo Olympics are more than four years away) it is possible to obtain firearms or produce other deadly weapons to use in a terror attack on the Tokyo Olympics.

And imaginative terror weapons have been used in Japan in the past. One example is the 1986 G-7 Summit in Tokyo which was the target of a rocket attack. Another example is the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subways in 1995.

The Orlando Shooter Was Not Discovered Before the Attack

As of June 12, 2016 news reports assert the man who committed the Orlando terrorist attack had previously been investigated and even interviewed by the FBI. However, no U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agency discovered the terrorist’s plans before he attacked the Orlando nightclub. How does the Japanese government try to detect terrorists and prevent their attacks?

There are two types of Japanese government organizations that look for terrorist before they conduct an attack. One is the Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSIA). It is not a law enforcement agency but operates as a domestic intelligence agency within Japan. The other type of organization in Japan that looks for terrorists before they commit attacks are the police. Specifically, the 47 prefectural police departments. Like the PSIA they try to find terrorists before they commit an attack. The PSIA and the 47 prefectural police departments in Japan do communicate with each other. Unfortunately, that communication is extremely limited and conducted in an atmosphere of mutual suspicion.

Japan has excellent physical surveillance and human intelligence capabilities. But Japanese law prevents almost all electronic surveillance. In the U.S. and Europe electronic surveillance is a critical tool for counter terrorist investigations. As with the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino attacks in late 2015 the terrorist attacks in Orlando were not prevented. Whether or not a terrorist in Japan planning an attack on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be discovered and the attack prevented is an open question.

The Orlando Terrorist Attack Can Be Replicated During  The 2020 Tokyo Olympics!

All in all, an Orlando-style attack would be difficult to duplicate during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But there are potential recruits in Japan for such an attack, deadly weapons can be procured or produced, there is plenty of time to prepare, it is possible for terrorists to evade discovery, and the rewards of a spectacular and deadly attack at the Tokyo Olympics would be immense. Those who are responsible for safety and security at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games should study the details of the Orlando terrorist attack as they become available and apply the lessons learned to their security preparations for Tokyo.

Japanese Privacy Laws and How They Affect Security Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Employers in Japan Cannot Access Employee Criminal History Information

Are either of you a convicted felon?
Are either of you a convicted felon?

Most non-Japanese security professionals responsible for foreign visitors or participants at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will likely hire local Japanese staff to assist them (either directly or through a “temp” agency) with their security and safety preparations in Tokyo. The range of services which foreign visitors and participants at the Tokyo Olympics will require is extensive: security guard services, charter bus services, guide services, administrative services, lodging services, hired car services, and catering services are the most likely. Some services can be arranged without much concern about the background of the service provider. But for other services at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics security professionals will want to conduct due diligence investigations of the service providers (e.g., chauffer services and security guard services).

Background investigation practices used by private corporations when hiring staff vary greatly around the world. In the U.S. security professionals conducting an employment background investigation can usually can learn if the prospective employee has a criminal history.

For example, in the U.S. a company considering retaining the services of a car and driver for several days might hire a limousine company to provide the car and driver. The hiring company might want to specify in the contract that it be able to conduct a criminal background investigation of the driver. In most jurisdictions in the U.S. this condition of employment is allowed and criminal history information (an arrest or worse) is usually a matter of public record. For example, the state of Pennsylvania has established procedures expressly for the purpose of providing criminal history information maintained by that state. The vast majority of government agencies in the U.S. that maintain criminal history records have similar procedures for dissemination of that information. In addition, many states maintain additional public records of individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes or crimes against children. For example, here is a link to the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry.

But what about Japan? Is it possible for a potential employer in Japan to check government records and search for the criminal history of a citizen or resident of Japan? In most cases the answer is no. Japanese laws limit public dissemination of criminal history information. In addition, Japan recently made significant revisions to its privacy laws. Those revisions are quite new and how they will ultimately affect access to criminal history information maintained by the Japanese government is still unclear. However, based upon nine years of working with the Japanese criminal justice system the writer can confidently predict that the revisions to Japan’s privacy laws will not expand public access to criminal history information.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Criminal History

Most criminal records in Japan are maintained by the 47 prefectural police departments in the country. Usually prefectural police departments will not release criminal history information to a third party and will cite “privacy laws” as the reason. A Japanese prosecutor told the writer that he once wanted the police to review a list of potential jurors to ensure none had criminal records or membership in any criminal organizations. The police cited Japan’s privacy laws and refused to share that information with the prosecutor.

Can a Japanese resident or citizen get his own criminal record information? Absolutely! The Japanese police will allow an individual to request and receive a written statement of his own criminal history information from the Japanese police. If the requestor has no criminal history in Japan the Japanese police will instead issue an official document to certify the individual has no criminal history (statement of no criminal history).

But even if a potential employee in Japan presents to an employer an official document to certify he has no criminal history it doesn’t mean much. Japanese law allows dozens (one prosecutor told the writer the number is greater than 60) of ways for a person to nullify, expunge, permanently seal, or otherwise ensure his criminal history is not listed on a statement of no criminal history issued by the Japanese police. So when a potential employee presents an official statement of no criminal history from the Japanese police it has little meaning. The job applicant could have committed several violent felonies in the past but due to expungement laws, etc. they would not be listed on the statement of no criminal history issued by the police.

The Internet Provides No Solution

What about internet searches? If an employee committed a crime serious enough to be reported by news outlets then an internet search would likely reveal it. Well, as this news article illustrates, slander laws in Japan might hide criminal news reporting from internet search engines.

For those who wish to read further about Japanese privacy and slander laws here are some links to related information available on the internet: Japanese defamation laws; personal information privacy in Japan; the Japanese personal number identification law. Incidentally, Japan has criminal slander laws. That means that in Japan it is possible to be sent to prison for committing some types of slander or defamation. This is different from the U.S. where the constitution forbids criminalization of slander or defamation.

What is the Alternative?

So is there a solution for the overseas security professional who wants to conduct a background investigation of a potential employee in Japan? The only solution I can recommend is to hire a reputable private investigator to conduct the most thorough background investigation allowed by Japanese law.

But this answer begs the question: how do you find a reputable private investigator in Japan? My recommendation is to find a private investigator who retired from a prefectural police department and has graduated from the FBI National Academy. Before a foreign police officer is allowed to attend the FBI National Academy he is thoroughly investigated by the FBI. Another option is to find a private investigator who retired from a prefectural police department and attended another U.S federal law enforcement training program or class. At least two other U.S. federal law enforcement agencies (the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security) invite foreign police officers to participate in some of their training and education programs. Usually before a foreign officer can participate in any U.S. federal law enforcement education he must past a background investigation conducted by the agency that extended the invitation to the officer.

Japanese privacy laws and practices limit what potential employers can learn about potential employees. And the investigative methods a prospective employer can use are limited, relatively expensive, and take time. Therefore, security professionals who will investigate potential Japanese employees for work at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will need to carefully consider what information they can and cannot obtain, the price the information will cost, and the amount of time an investigation of a potential employee will take.

Did a Bribe Lead to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

A New Event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics –The Bribery Cover Up Marathon

Another day, another Olympic bribe. Niewiadomski.
Another day, another Olympic bribe. Niewiadomski.

In recent days several news outlets have reported that the French financial prosecutor is investigating the possibility that the 2020 Olympics were awarded to the city of Tokyo because of a bribe. Articles on this topics are here, here, and here. In short, the reports assert that a member of the International Olympic Committee, Lamine Diack, is suspected to have voted for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics after he was paid a bribe by someone associated with the Tokyo bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Clearly, an allegation that a person or persons responsible for Japan’s bid for the 2020 Olympics paid a bribe or bribes will be politically sensitive in Japan. Already, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, told the press, “I am confident that our bid was conducted in a clean manner”. Suga is one of the highest officials in the Japanese government. The fact he quickly denied a bribe before he had time to conduct an investigation shows the Japanese government wants this allegation to disappear. This is likely because many famous, influential, and respectable members of Japan’s elite (business, government, acadamia, etc.) are associated with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. These people could suffer reputational damage if the bribery allegations are true. These people do not want an investigation of the bribery charges.

But Suga may have spoken too soon. A few days after Suga vouched for the integrity of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid this article appeared in the English language Mainichi newspaper. Here is the money quote from the article, “Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, suggested he does not know how 230 million yen that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics bid committee paid to a Singaporean company was used.”

The purpose of this post is neither to review the facts surrounding the allegations of the bribe nor to assess the veracity of the allegations. Instead, this post will examine what could transpire if the French financial prosecutor should request investigative cooperation from appropriate criminal investigative agencies in Japan.

As it turns out, there is an “Agreement between the European Union and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters”.  Hereinafter referred to as the MLA (Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement). A link to a PDF of the agreement is here.

A Bribe by Any Other Name…

If there is any universal principle governing provision of criminal investigative assistance by one government to another it is the concept of Dual Criminality. In the case of the reported criminal investigation by France of allegations of bribery Japan would be under no obligation to assist France if bribery was not a crime in Japan. And indeed, Article 11 (2) of the MLA linked above specifies this as a basis for a party to the MLA to refuse a request for investigative assistance from another party.

Now the fun begins! Bribery in Japan is illegal and the media reports that bribery in France is illegal. As reported in the press, the bribe funds were sent from Japan to a bank account in Singapore. The French likely will want the money transmission records from the bank in Japan. If the Japanese criminal investigators are enthusiastic about the investigation they will proceed to procure the bank records and provide them to the French under the terms of the MLA. However, if the Japanese criminal investigators feel pressure from their betters to limit their cooperation with the French investigation they could decline to assist based upon the following basis. The bribe money was paid in Singapore, not in Japan. Only a transfer of funds occurred in Japan and transfers of funds are legal in Japan. Therefore, the request from the French does not meet the dual criminality standard and Japan will not provide the bank records. And for a final flourish, the Japanese criminal investigators could tell the French to contact the government of Singapore since it is alleged the payment of the bribe funds occurred there.

“Yes, but…”

But the “dual criminality” excuse can look flimsy. And in Japan appearances are as important as anywhere else. If the Japanese criminal investigators are under serious pressure to protect perpetrators in Japan but they want to maintain the appearance of cooperation they can use another time tested Japanese technique to keep the French at bay.

Anyone who has lived in Japan knows the “yes, but…” technique. A request is made by a foreigner to someone who is Japanese and the Japanese person does not want to fulfill the request. But neither does the Japanese person want to openly reject the request. Hence, the “yes, but…” reply. In short, the Japanese will agree to the request “but” point out a reason to delay fulfillment. As it turns out, the MLA contains a wonderful “yes, but…” clause. Article 10 (3) of the MLA allows Japan to postpone a request because it will interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation in Japan. This is a great technique for Japan to use because it simultaneously gives the appearance that Japan is “shocked, shocked!” at the allegations of bribery and vigorously responding while keeping the French at arms length for as long as they want. No time limit is specified for a postponement under Article 10 (3).

The Bobby Fischer Check Mate

Some readers might scoff at the notion the Japanese government would dodge and weave and do whatever it can to deny the cooperation France might request. But remember, it is likely very influential Japanese citizens could be dragged into the bribery investigation. These influential people will likely put as much pressure as they can on the Japanese government to stop the investigation.

And the Japanese government has slipped out of cooperating with foreign criminal investigation requests before. Consider this Wikipedia article about Bobby Fischer, a U.S. citizen chess champion. The information relevant to this post is a paragraph about halfway down the page entitled, “Detention in Japan”. Briefly stated, Fischer, as a result of a valid criminal investigative request from the U.S., was arrested in Japan. As a U.S. citizen he should have been deported to the U.S. promptly. However, the Japanese government prevaricated for months. Ultimately, and after the U.S. requested his deportation, Iceland granted Fischer citizenship. The Japanese government used Fisher’s newly granted Iceland nationality as a reason to deport Fischer to Iceland instead of to the U.S. Needless to say, in Iceland Fischer lived as a free man.

If the French government intends to request criminal investigative assistance from the Japanese government to investigate allegations the 2020 Olympics were awarded to Tokyo due to a bribe it would do well to study the case of Bobby Fischer.

The May 16, 2016 Tokyo Earthquake and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

A few hours ago the Tokyo metropolitan region was shaken by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake. More details are here.  And here is a link to a web site that aggregates Twitter report about the Tokyo earthquake. Happily, early reports indicate the earthquake has not caused any injuries or significant property damage. According to Japanese television reports the ground shaking affected Tokyo and several prefectures surrounding Tokyo. The area affected by the shaking will likely contain every venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Also, initial reports on Japanese television indicate that numerous elevators had stopped as a result of the earthquake and people may be inside of those elevators and elevator technicians have been dispatched to assist anyone trapped in a stopped elevator.

More details about the Tokyo earthquake will be reported in the days to come. In the meantime, those desiring more information regarding earthquake safety in Japan are encouraged to read two previous posts on this blog which are linked here and here. Also, for readers curious about how close the earthquake epicenter is to any nuclear facilities in Japan early reports indicate it is close to the Tokai-mura nuclear power plant and facility which are just 77 miles from Tokyo. For more information about nuclear incident risks to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics please read this post here.



Now where did I put that sports endorsement contract?
Now where did I put that sports endorsement contract?

The world of Japanese sport suffered a serious blow to its chances in the badminton competition at the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics. A top Japanese badminton player was suspended because he had participated in illegal gambling. The player, Kento Momota, was suspended indefinitely by the Nippon Badminton Association on April 10 2016. Another Japanese badminton player, Kenichi Tago, who competed at the 2012 London Games and became the first six-time Japanese badminton national champion in 2013, was also discovered to be gambling illegally. He was deregistered indefinitely by the association in a heavier punishment. Reputation and “face” are very important in Japanese society and that is likely the reason the two players were sanctioned so severely for their illegal gambling. The fact they were discovered to be gambling illegally certainly embarrassed their team and other related organizations

The two disgraced athletes gambled at an illegal casino operated by members of the Sumiyoshi-kai, a notorious Japanese Yakuza criminal gang. But the gambling by these two Japanese badminton players is only one of a series of recent scandals to strike current and former professional Japanese athletes. Former Yomiuri Giants pitcher Shoki Kasahara, aged 25, was arrested on April 29, 2016 on charges he helped organize baseball gambling. Kasahara’s arrest occurred approximately two months after another former Yomiuri Giants player, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, was arrested on February 3, 2016 on suspicion of possessing illegal stimulant drugs.

The writer is not aware if any of the badminton or baseball players mentioned above had product or service endorsement contracts with any companies. If there were any such contracts or other deals they have now likely been terminated. Companies planning to retain sports celebrities to endorse their products and services in the Japanese market for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should keep in mind the sudden disgrace experienced by the Japanese sports celebrities described above.

In the Japanese market, as in other large national markets, corporations from around the world seek the endorsements of famous athletes for products and services. Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori is an example of an athlete much in demand to endorse products and services in Japan and in other countries. However, companies seeking endorsements by athletes for sales in Japan need to keep in mind the Japanese concept of “face” or reputation. As with the badminton and baseball players described above an athlete behaving badly can generate a whirlwind of negative publicity in Japan. Any athlete who endorses a product or service for the Japanese market can suffer reputational harm for any number of reasons. The damage to the endorsing athlete’s reputation will damage the image of the endorsed product or service. And the damage to the endorsed product or service in the Japanese market can be more serious than in the U.S. or other major national markets.


As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approach foreign companies are likely already lining up athletes for endorsements in the Japanese market. The Olympics is a golden opportunity for a company to define and enhance its profile in Japan. And as in other countries, a company seeking an athlete’s endorsement to promote sales in Japan will carefully review or vet the reputation of the athlete in question.

Foreign security and safety officials responsible for vetting athletes for corporate endorsement purposes during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics need to keep in mind two things. First, if an endorsing athlete ‘goes rogue’ the reputational damage in Japan to the companies endorsed can be severe. Therefore, the vetting process for the Japanese market should be more rigorous and comprehensive than for the markets of most other countries.

Second, foreign safety and security officials must keep in mind that the ‘lay of the land’ in Japan regarding reputation is different from most other countries. Therefore, when vetting a sports celebrity they should be sure to retain the services of experts thoroughly acquainted with every possible way a sports celebrity endorser can do something to generate a storm of negative publicity in Japan. In this way the vetting process will properly assess the potential risks when a company retains an athlete to endorse its product in Japan.

The Kumamoto Earthquake and Tokyo Olympics Security: What You Need to Know Zacharzewski Zacharzewski

By now most people around the word who follow the daily news are aware that the Japanese island of Kyushu has been struck by a series of strong earthquakes which have caused at least 41 fatalities. The series of earthquakes began on April 14, 2016. The city of Kumamoto has been hardest hit but other cities over a large area of Kyushu have also suffered damage and seen injuries from the earthquake. Foreign security and safety officials who will work in Tokyo during 2020 Olympics can learn from the recent earthquakes in Japan how they can prepare for a possible earthquake during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Of all the countries in the world Japan is the best prepared to handle an earthquake. That is because so many earthquakes occur in Japan. Some of this preparation is detailed in an earlier post on this blog. But earthquakes are unpredictable and each one is different so foreign security and safety officials responsible for the Olympics should implement their own preparations for an earthquake during the games.

Learn the Plans Already in Place

First, foreign officials responsible for Tokyo Olympic security and safety should reach out to the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics well before the games and learn what plans are in place in the event the event is disrupted by an earthquake or series or earthquakes. The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics will have plans in place for response to an earthquake. As this article demonstrates the Japanese government is already planning for a natural disaster during the games. Foreign Olympic security and safety officials should even now contact to the Tokyo Olympic organizers and Japanese officials responsible for safety during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to help in planning for an earthquake.

Teach Everyone Earthquake Survival Basics

Second, foreign safety and security officials at the 2020 Olympics should ensure the people for whose safety they are responsible are informed about the plans for response to an earthquake. Many foreign athletes and spectators know nothing about how to survive and earthquake and its aftermath. Effective education in earthquake survival can save lives and prevent injury.

Know How to Contact Your Olympic Team Colleagues and 

Others After an Earthquake

Third, foreign safety and security officials at the Tokyo Olympics should have a concrete plan for contact with everyone for whom they are responsible after an earthquake occurs. It is likely the Tokyo Olympic safety officials will have a procedure for confirming the location and status of Olympic participants and spectators after an earthquake. Participation in that plan would likely be the best option. Implementation of a secondary communication plan should be considered. In any event, a robust communication plan or plans should be in place and and everyone should know how to contact their colleagues after an earthquake during the Tokyo Olympics.

Secure Emergency Food and Water

Fourth, emergency supplies of food and water should be confirmed. Again, the Olympics organizers or the Japanese authorities will likely have emergency supplies of food and water arranged but foreign security and safety officials responsible for Tokyo Olympic security should be aware of those plans and their role in implementing them. The Japanese plans for food and water supply after a quake should be reviewed to ensure they will meet the needs of foreign athletes and spectators. In the first days after the earthquakes in Kumamoto the Japanese news carried reports of shortages of food and water in several locations affected by the quakes. These shortages do not show lack of quake preparation by the Japanese authorities; instead, they illustrate the inherent difficulty of responding to humanitarian needs after a serious earthquake. Foreign Olympic security and safety officials at the Tokyo Olympics should review whether or not they want to independently prepare additional emergency supplies of food and water.

Ensure Access to Communication After the Earthquake

Fifth, emergency communication should be secured. Even during the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in 2011 surviving cell towers equipped with backup power allowed sporadic cell phone communication. Tokyo Olympic safety and security officials should determine what plans are in place for back up power, etc. for the cell phone networks serving Tokyo Olympic venues. If they seem insufficient they should ask the Tokyo Olympic organizers for more and better preparations to ensure critical cell networks continue to operate after an earthquake. On the same point, athletes and spectators should be encouraged to always carry a cell phone and a backup battery or charger while they are at the Tokyo Olympics. Cell phones can also warn of an earthquake shaking up to a minute in advance as noted in the blog post linked above and this article.

Plan Alternate Transportation 

Sixth, be ready to cope with the disruption of transportation resulting from an earthquake. According to the April 16, 2016 edition of the Japan Times, “The region’s transport network suffered considerable damage: one tunnel caved in, a highway bridge was damaged, roads were blocked by landslides and train services halted, media reported. Kumamoto airport was also closed.” As of April 16, 2016 the Japanese official broadcast network NHK reported that the Kumamoto airport was closed indefinitely, train service to and from Kumamoto and nearby areas was suspended until further notice, and most major roads to and from the areas damaged by the earthquake were closed or could handle only limited traffic. Should similar disruption occur during the Tokyo Olympics security and safety officials should have several back-up plans for transportation out of Japan.

Always Carry Emergency Cash

Seventh, everyone who travels to Japan for any reason should always carry at least Yen 15,000 in cash (approximately US $150.00) at all times. Much more than in most European countries or the U.S. Japan is a cash society. Also, an earthquake will likely disrupt electronic payment networks and credit cards, etc. could be useless for days after an earthquake. Access to some cash can make daily life after an earthquake easier and more comfortable.

Don’t Worry About Civil Disorder

The eighth and final event to prepare for actually requires no preparation at all. No one need worry that the earthquake will cause civil disturbances, looting, an increase in crime, or other types of threats to personal safety. Japan has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world (more on that in a future post). Furthermore, time and again the Japanese people have shown their responsibility and sense of civic duty during disasters by responding in a safe and orderly manner. The writer was in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns and he can attest that in almost all cases civil order was maintained and no one took advantage of the disaster to loot or commit other crimes. In 2003 a simple blackout in New York City led to temporary and dramatic increases in crime. This type of civil disorder is very rare in Japan.


Why Use A Drone When a Rocket Will Do?

Real Terrorists Don't Use Drones; They Use Rockets!
Real Terrorists Don’t Use Drones; They Use Rockets!

The design for the new main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been finalized. The new stadium will replace the one used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and will be located in the same location. Around the turn of the century the city of Tokyo opened a new subway line that has a station very close to the stadium location; this new line will facilitate travel to and from the new stadium.

The neighborhoods surrounding the Olympic stadium contains many cultural and recreational facilities open to the public. Close by are expensive shopping districts as well as many high income residential neighborhoods. The stadium neighborhood is also located near the Imperial Palace, the official residence for the Crown Prince and Princess, and the State Guesthouse for the Japanese government.

The State Guesthouse for the Japanese government is also referred to as the Akasaka Palace. It functions as a venue for international meetings and conferences and also as lodging for foreign dignitaries visiting Japan.

Foreign security and safety officials who will be responsible for security at the Tokyo Olympics may want to consider a dramatic security failure that occurred at the Akasaka Palace and not far from the location for the new Tokyo Olympic stadium.

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

The security failure occurred during the 1986 G-7 Tokyo Economic Summit. The heads of the governments of the G-7 members (U.S., U.K., Italy, West Germany, France, Canada, and Japan) had gathered in Tokyo for the meeting. Just as the ceremonies to mark the opening of the summit began at the Akasaka Palace the location was attacked by a Japanese terrorist group called the Middle Core Faction. Contemporaneous news reports of the incident are here, here , here, and  here.

In brief, on May 5, 1986 the Middle Core Faction, a Japanese terrorist group, fired several homemade rockets at the Akasaka Palace where Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and the five other G-7 leaders were gathering. Luckily, the rockets sailed over the heads of some of the world leaders in attendance and landed without causing injuries or serious property damage (remarkable in such a congested neighborhood).

Although a police investigation later revealed the rockets were fired from a distance of just two miles from the Akasaka Palace the Tokyo police had no advance indication of this particular threat. The linked news reports assert the Tokyo police knew the Middle Core Faction had used similar rockets for attacks in Japan in the previous two or three months. However, the police in Tokyo did not believe the group could produce rockets capable of posing a threat to the G-7 Summit.

Japanese Government Terrorist Investigative Tools Are Limited

What went awry? In Japan the use of three types of investigative techniques (use of informants, use of undercover investigations, and use of electronic surveillance) is restricted compared to the U.S. and many other countries. It is likely the absence of these types of investigative tools allowed the Middle Core Faction to plan and execute the rocket attack without alerting the police. In the future the lack of these three investigative tools may leave Japanese law enforcement authorities dangerously uninformed about threats to the security of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Akasaka Palace is no more than two miles (as the “rocket” flies) from the location of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium. Both the Akasaka Palace and the Olympic Stadium are located in the most secure and heavily patrolled district of Tokyo which contains some imperial family residences as noted above. And yet, from this well monitored district the Middle Core Faction launched a potentially deadly attack on the leaders attending the G-7 summit. If the Akasaka Palace can be attacked then the Olympic stadium can be attacked just as easily.

What Lesson Should 2020 Tokyo Olympics Foreign Security Officials Learn From This Attack?

First, foreign security professionals responsible for the security of participants and spectators in Tokyo in 2020 should keep in mind that Olympic security authorities in Japan do not have the full range of counter-terrorism tools available to law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies in many other countries. The terrorist group that launched the 1986 G-7 rocket attacks today employs primarily peaceful tactics. However, in 1986 its existence and its use of rockets to mount attacks were well-known to Japanese law enforcement and security agencies. The fact such a notorious group was able to launch a rocket attack on THE most securely guarded event in Japan in 1986 demonstrates that foreign security professionals at the Tokyo Olympics should constantly be on guard and maintain a pro-active security stance as long as they are in Japan.

Second, radical Islamic terrorists are not the only terrorists who might present a threat to the security and safety of the Tokyo Olympics. Between today and 2020 domestic Japanese terrorist groups could form and present a threat to Tokyo Olympic Security just as the Middle Core Faction presented a threat to the 1986 G-7 Summit in Tokyo. Foreign safety and security officials responsible for Tokyo Olympic security should learn as much as they can about Japanese domestic terrorist groups before the Tokyo Olympics begin and plan security accordingly. Japanese domestic news is little reported outside of Japan so it will take an extra effort to find out if Japanese terrorist groups could present a security issue. Some sources of relevant information are: Japanese government law enforcement and domestic security agencies; Japanese and foreign security firms; Japanese and foreign journalists; members of the diplomatic corps in Tokyo; and members of the Tokyo Olympic Committee.


Tokyo Olympic Security and the Return of Lost Personal Property

Blessed Are They Who Lose Their Personal Property During the Tokyo Olympics, For They Shall Find It Again

Lost property usually does not result in life threatening consequences. Even so, most foreign security and safety officials at the Tokyo Olympics will likely respond to at least a few incidents of personal property lost by athletes and others attending the games. Happily for them, in Japan more than any other country in the world lost personal property (including large amounts of cash) is routinely recovered by its owner.

Lost, but not forever!
Lost, but not long!

Foreigners well acquainted with Japan find it entertaining to read articles in foreign publications (here, here, and here) that breathlessly describe this extraordinary and delightful part of Japanese society. One of the articles reported that one lost property center in Tokyo was trying to find the owner of a wheelchair; how do you lose a wheelchair? It’s difficult for someone who is not Japanese to fathom the reasons lost personal property in Japan is routinely returned to its rightful owner. Above all Japan is a law abiding and rule following society. Courtesy and consideration are also very important in Japanese society as is a sense of community responsibility.

One time the author lost a valuable (approximately $500) commuter train pass. He stopped at a police box at the train station where he noticed the loss and reported the it to the police. Within a week he got a post card from the regional police station which informed him his commuter train pass had been found and returned and he had 30 days to claim it. Needless to say he scampered down to the police station to claim the pass. And then there’s this news story about how workers at an industrial waste processing facility in Kyoto found Yen 23,000,000 in cash (about U.S. $210,000.00) and turned it in to the police.

Another time the author visited a scenic Japanese tourist spot with some American friends where they all ate a snack in a small restaurant before beginning a 20 minute walk up a path to a great place to take sunset pictures. Once at the photo spot one member of the group realized he had left his camera in the restaurant. He began jogging back to the restaurant and at a bend in the trail literally collided with the owner of the restaurant who was jogging in the opposite direction and bringing the forgotten camera to its owner.

Japanese Tokyo Olympics security officials will definitely establish and operate a robust lost and found system at all Olympic facilities. And when foreign visitors to the games venture to other parts of Tokyo and Japan they can rest assured that if they lose some property it is highly likely it will be returned in good condition. Once you realize you have lost some property and you are at an Olympic facility simply report the loss at the Lost and Found office that is likely to be located there. If lose an item while away from an Olympic facility report the loss at one of Japan’s many police boxes or ask for assistance from the staff at your hotel or contact any Tokyo Olympic official when you can. While you are waiting for your property to be returned you you should practice some Japanese phrases to express gratitude and appreciation. It is almost certain you will have the occasion to use them.