Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Bloodletting Begins - China, Spying and Phytosanitary Restrictions

The dirty game of leaking from the Li Chunguang case has begun. Unsurprisingly, the Yomiuri Shimbun is at the forefront at publishing the leaked information, targeting members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan with missiles of filled with innuendo and non-sequiturs.
Agriculture leak to be probed / Ministry team to investigate Chinese diplomat's link to secret documents

The agriculture ministry will set up an investigation team within the ministry to investigate the alleged leaking of classified documents, following Wednesday's report by The Yomiuri Shimbun that a Chinese diplomat may be responsible for the security breach.

Speaking to reporters at the ministry on Wednesday, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano said: "As long as such a report was made, I believe it's important to thoroughly investigate the case as a ministry. I told this to the team members."

The leaked documents are believed to contain information on a program for exporting agricultural products to China. The Yomiuri Shimbun reported the 45-year-old first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, who is suspected of espionage, was involved in the program organized by the Promotion Association of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries & Foods Exporting to China, a Tokyo-based incorporated body.

The diplomat, who also is suspected of violating the Alien Registration Law, has already left Japan

Senior Vice Minister Tsukasa Iwamoto will lead the ministry's investigative team, whose members include several senior officials, such as Parliamentary Secretary Tetsuo Morimoto and a vice minister, Kano said

The ministry's other senior vice minister, Nobutaka Tsutsui, who led the program in question, was not included in the team

Asked about Tsutsui, Kano said, "I guess we'll have to ask him [about the leak]."
Read the full story (Link) though there is really not much of a story. A shipload of Japanese produce and fish destined for a special Japanese agricultural products promotion got held up at agricultural inspection by the Chinese government's failure to waive its usual phytosanitary restrictions. Li went to visit Vice-Minister Tsutsui, presumably to explain what was going on and/or offer an apology. The shipment eventually had to be destroyed.

End of story.

TV Asahi has a report out alleging that Li entertained members of the DPJ's agriculture tribe, MAFF elite bureaucrats and representatives of agricultural interests at restaurants and other venues (ANN News - J - time sensitive).

The Mainichi Shimbun's coverage of the story hones in on the opening of the bank accounts and the money allegedly transferred to those accounts (E). That the Mainichi acquired such detailed information as the exact amounts transferred to the accounts says very little that is admirable about the Tokyo Metropolitan Police's ability to protect information with possible vital national security implications.

As can be seen from the Yomiuri and Mainichi texts and the TV Asahi segment, the mainstream media is clinging with desperation to their at once inconsistent and overbearing applications of restrictions on revealing the identities and images of persons under investigation (Why the giant, floating blue ball, TV Asahi, on what seems to be footage from open government sources?) Internet news outlets, You Tube and the non-Japanese press are circulating reports featuring Li's name and image. The hopeless maintenance of a veil of secrecy makes the story seem more sinister, which may be good for ratings. However, the effort at concealment makes the mainstream press look like fools, in the same way their tentative coverage of the Olympus scandal did, after FACTA and the foreign press had already broken the case wide open.

Later - Will opposition parties go bananas about Li Chunguang's activities, the extent to which the government's had knowledge of them, the possibility of security breaches and the compromising of appointed officials and bureaucrats, tying the Diet's schedule into knots, making it impossible for the Noda government to pass the legislation necessary for the implementation of its political program?

Let us say, to be brief, yes.

Later still - Li's purported efforts to influence opinions at MAFF and among legislators with strong ties to agriculture interests will mean that the MAFF will likely be off-limits to foreign entities trying to encourage the loosening of restrictions on agriculture trade and the ending of agriculture and fishery subsidies. This would indicate that Japanese participation in TPP negotiations are deader than Elvis, for the time being.

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