Japan should join Five Eyes intelligence network, says ambassador

Japan is making progress toward joining the Anglophone world’s post-war spying network known as Five Eyes, according to Japan’s ambassador to Australia.

“I am very much optimistic about the near future,” said Shingo Yamagami, who took up his post in December, 2020. He said he “would like to see this idea become reality in the near future”.

Australia and New Zealand in 1956 joined the US, Britain and Canada to complete the Five Eyes group and that was the last time any new member was admitted.

Yamagami Shingo, Ambassador of Japan: “It’s a sign of these countries sharing universal values and strategic interests.”Credit:Louie Douvis

“Logically, in terms of interests and capability, Japan is the best candidate,” said the head of ANU’s National Security College, Rory Medcalf.

“If there’s a country with a fine-grained understanding of China, Japan is it. For most of its life, the Five Eyes has been seen as one unchangeable bloc but I think it’s important to move with the times.”

The idea of Japan becoming the “sixth eye” is gaining traction just as New Zealand is expressing reservations about any increase in the network’s reach.

Yamagami, formerly the head of the intelligence branch of Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said: “We keep building specific blocks with the Australian intelligence community and Japanese intelligence community and with the rest of the Five Eyes community.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga listens as President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 16, 2021. Credit:AP

He said that the weekend summit between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga “was a good meeting for Australia” because the two leaders specifically condemned use of economic coercion in their joint statement.

“Everyone understands what they are referring to, so this is a good step forward”, Yamagami said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined Biden and Suga and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the inaugural leader-level meeting of the Quad group in March.

The four democratic leaders committed to “a free and open Indo-Pacific” in an indirect rebuke of Beijing’s territorial ambitions in the region.

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