|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
軍事から経済へと戦略転換 CIAの標的は日本企業か 1995,04,16
Has the CIA shifted its focus to Japanese firms?
Shukan Diamond 4/15 by Mark Schreiber
Now that not much is left of communism, will CIA “spooks” be unleashed to help U.S.corporations gain an edge against their Japanese rivals?
Shukan Diamond considers this in a report by journalist Takeshi Yabe.
Stansfield Turner, former CIA director during the Carter years, is recently attributed as having remarked to the effect that “there's no reason why the agency can't be put to use to help maintain America's economic competitiveness.”
What forms this might take are uncertain.
One possibility is that the National Security Agency(NSA) and other government intelligence organizations might be willing to make available their spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping equipment to tap into the internal communications of Japanese firms, an activity that at least one diplomatic specialist, Mark Lowenthal, says is entirely within their capabilities.
Because American companies are prohibited by law from paying out bribes to win bids on overseas projects, they have lost billions of dollars in contracts.
In the future, the CIA may also probe the bribe activities of foreign firms as a way of protecting U.S.interests.
Yabe quotes the January-February issue of the radical magazine Mother Jones as saying that the CIA has begun to assign agents overseas in the form of so-called “nonofficial cover.”
Some of them are supposedly in Tokyo, where they gather intelligence by monitoring personnel changes in Japanese firms, their budget allocations, locations of research facilities and others.
Diamond cites a survey of Fortune 500 firms taken in 1993, in which only five percent of the companies said they engage in their own intelligence gathering; but if the use of outside consultants is included, the figure rises to 40 percent.
One U.S. firm that makes a business out of intelligence gathering is the Futures Group.
Its current vice president was employed by the CIA for 20 years before joining his present company, whose research clients are mainly Fortune 500 firms.
The Futures Group's VP refused to be interviewed by Yabe, but he is quoted as having pointed out that Japanese corporations have some glaring weak points.
“It may be due to the Japanese educational system, but Japanese companies don't seem to be very effective in making creative evaluations and analyses, or forecasting information.
This makes me wonder if they really understand the purpose of intelligence gathering by businesses, which is to obtain the necessary information and then make accurate analyses and speculation from it.”
At least a few Japanese are working to correct that shortcoming.
Juro Nakagawa, who retired from a major trading firm three years ago to teach management at Aichi Gakuin University, tells Diamond, “Most of the information gathered by Japanese trading firms abroad is mainly related to business(e.g., what sort of products competitors are selling, to whom, and at what price); but the days are over when knowing that was enough to sell products.
In the future, it will be necessary to collect information, analyze it and generate forecasts through the knowledge of the host country's politics, economics, culture, environment, society, national characteristics and so on.
In other words, we are approaching an era in which business intelligence will be vital to a corporation's existence.”
While employed as the General Manager of the Development Division of Nichimen in that company's New York regional headquarters, he read a book entitled “Real World Intelligence” written by a former CIA staff member.
The impact was like being knocked on the head with a hammer.
Another Japanese concerned about his countrymen's inability to gather and utilize data is Kosei Tashiro, who left the Public Safety Section of the National Police Agency to establish the Japan Survey Information Academy located in Shinjuku.
“Japanese who think the universe revolves around Japan (or around Tokyo) will never be able to understand what's happening in the world,” Tashiro asserts.
“They might be able to collect plenty of information, but lack the perspective necessary for accurate analyses and forecasting.”
Tashiro's institution offers courses for people in both government and business, ranging from beginning to advanced.
Recently, as if to confirm that business is finally realizing the importance of data-collecting activities, enrollment by corporate workers has reportedly increased.
In the wake of the bubble economy, writes Yabe, the lazy attitude that business-oriented information is good enough to win out over foreign rivals is gradually dissipating, but Japanese companies have no business strategy for the 21st century.
Meanwhile, over the past four or five years, American firms have made efforts to strengthen their data-gathering capabilities, and are using this to carry out detailed evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese companies.
When facing off against American firms equipped with this high-sensitivity radar, asks Diamond rhetorically, what sort of outcome is in store for those Japanese companies that have remained stuck to their old ways? (MS)