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China possibly utilized ‘honey trap’ at Kyoto hostess club in intelligence collection

Shukan Jitsuwa Oct. 17

A probe into fake marriages that surfaced late last month has lead investigators to a case of possible industrial espionage involving technology companies and a high-end hostess club in Kyoto’s Gion district that employed Chinese women.

Shukan Jitsuwa (Oct. 17) reports that such a “honey trap” is not an unusual ploy in obtaining top-secret information.

Management executives and engineers at more than five leading-edge companies that produce electronics components and precision equipment in Kyoto came to the club, which was not named but said to be located near Yasaka Shrine in Higashiyama Ward.

The employees are believed to have discussed upcoming technologies and strategies for the Chinese market in the presence of the hostesses and the female manager, a Chinese national who reportedly has relatives in the upper ranks of the Chinese Communist Party.

The club opened six years ago and closed in June, upon which time most of the employees and the manager disappeared, with some possibly having gained employment at other establishments in Osaka, Kobe and Osaka.

Upon questioning, the manager said that the customers did not speak about their work at the club, a claim supported by one hostess who was also interviewed by police. But, she tells the magazine, the hostesses were freely available for erotic endeavors outside the club — where such intimacy can be used to break down one’s defenses.

“I’ve heard talk indicating that spy-like work was involved,” says the hostess, who maintain she herself was not involved in any kind of espionage.

For insights into how it all might have gone down, supposing it actually did, the magazine turns to non-fiction writer Mitsunori Saito.

“I don’t think the information could have been taken to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo or the consulate in Osaka,” says the writer. “They would have run the risk of the police division of Foreign Affairs becoming involved. In this case, the information would have been passed on to key people in China during visits home.”

In gathering intelligence, hostess clubs are not the only option for Chinese spies.

“Engineers encountering Chinese girls at sex parties, especially those at ‘happening bars,’ are coerced into leaking information,” says a news reporter. “You’ll also have cases where engineers are in debt to loan sharks. They’ll then be threatened into providing information.”

Shukan Jitsuwa points out that cases of espionage involving China have taken place in the recent past. In 2007, Aichi Prefectural Police arrested Yang Luchuan, a Chinese employee at car parts manufacturer Denso, for allegedly downloading 130,000 designs from the company’s database without authorization. In March of last year, a similar case of unauthorized data copying by a Chinese employee took place at machine tools manufacturer Yamazaki Mazak.

The hostess club in Kyoto had between seven and eight hostess on staff and reportedly charged customers 20,000 yen for entry. Officers came across the possible espionage after a 32-year-old hostess was arrested for engaging in a fake marriage with a Japan Self-Defense Force member in June.

The SDF member was dismissed from duty and is currently under prosecution in the fake marriage case. The 52-year-old was a regular at the club. The manager also faced charges in the matter but her indictment was later suspended.

The magazine speculates that the goal in this case was the retrieval of information related to the development of submarines.

“The heated dispute over the Senkaku chain of islands in the East China Sea has gone on for a year now,” says the same reporter. “From an offensive and defensive point of view, information on submarine technology is in hot demand.”

The reporter says that people involved in military affairs have indicated that the most sought after information by China is related to the reduction of engine sounds and sonar wave detection.

“China is trying to get submarine technology from Japan through their intelligence unit,” says the reporter. “So they’ve upped their collection activities.” (K.N.)

Source: “Kyoto Gion supai jiken kanrakugai ni hisomu Chugokujin hosutesu amai wana,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Oct. 17, pages 46-47)