Japan would like to help build a “Five Eyes”-plus intelligence-sharing alliance that would add it to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K, Defense Minister Taro Kono told the Nikkei in an interview published Friday.
If allowed, the framework would allow Japan to obtain key classified information at an early stage as it faces off against growing security threats in the South China Sea and beyond.
“These countries share the same values,” Kono said in the interview. “Japan can get closer [to the alliance] even to the extent of it being called the ‘Six Eyes’.”
The Five Eyes grouping is an intelligence-sharing alliance consisting of nations with deep historical and cultural ties anchored in their shared Anglo-Saxon heritage and use of the English language.
All are bound together as one via their multilateral UKUSA agreement. Their shared purposes cover cooperation in signals intelligence, analysis and sharing of information obtained through wiretapping networks for security purposes in pursuit of a free world.
As Breitbart London reported, this is not he first time a move to add to the existing Five Eyes network has been mooted, but it is the first time Japan has gone public with its own aspirations.
Top Tory Calls for ‘Alliance of the Free World’ to Challenge China https://t.co/Rax7VF1bjD
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 22, 2020
As the Nikkei interview outlines, Japan has been sharing information with the group despite not having formal membership.
Kono stressed expanding Japan’s links to it will enable the country to share information at an earlier stage and also acquire highly classified intelligence.
The Five Eyes is also characterized by strong diplomatic ties on top of their intelligence-sharing and they release joint statements on issues of shared concern. “It is highly important that [the member countries] keep step in diplomacy as well as on the economy,” Kono said.
Some members of the Five Eyes are also seeking closer cooperation with Japan to share confidential information in response to China’s growing military expansion. The U.K., for example, is wary of China amid mounting diplomatic tension over Hong Kong and the coronavirus pandemic and seeks to capitalize on information possessed by Japan.
Japan has been approached about sharing its information “on various occasions,” Kono revealed. “If approaches are made on a constant basis, then it may be called the ‘Six Eyes’,” he said.
But Kono said he doesn’t think Japan needs to go through certain procedures to join as an official member as the grouping is not an international organization. “We will just bring our chair to their table and tell them to count us in.”