Japan suspects Russian diplomats of spying

The Japanese police believe that two members of the Russian trade office have been gathering secret information. This hypothesis was put forward after a former telecommunications company employee admitted that he had stolen and sold work-related information. The Russian embassy in Japan expressed regret that Japan has joined the “anti-Russian speculations on the topic of spy mania”.

“We are sorry that Japan has joined the anti-Russian speculations popular in the West on the hackneyed topic of spy mania. Communicating through the mass media, that is, the notorious ‘megaphone diplomacy’, has already demonstrated its lack of results and harmfulness,” remarked representatives of the Russian embassy in Japan in a Facebook post.

The embassy stressed that the matter “goes against the policy agreed on by Moscow and Tokyo to create a positive atmosphere for establishing bilateral cooperation and resolving difficult issues on the shared agenda”.

This response from the Russian embassy came after the Japanese media started publishing reports that staff from Russia’s trade office had allegedly obtained secret commercial data which had been stolen.

The Japanese recently arrested a 48 year-old local by the name of Araki Yutaku, who is suspected of leaking secret information from the major telecommunications company Softbank, where he used to work. The police believe that in February last year he gave secret information from the company’s server to Russian trade office staff, Kyodo News reports.

Araki has confessed to the charges, saying that he did it to earn “some extra cash”.

Kyodo also reported that, after the arrest, Japanese law enforcement sent an official request to the Russian embassy, demanding that two employees of the Russian trade house present themselves to give statements.

The national newspaper Sankei reports that one of the Russians summoned for questioning currently works at the trade office and has “diplomatic privileges”, and the other is a former employee who returned to Russia in 2017.

While the police are investigating the circumstances of the incident, the Japanese communications giant Softbank has officially apologized to its clients, shareholders and partners for the data leak and resulting concern. Company representatives said that the leaked documents had a low classification status, and that they did not disclose clients’ contact information or classified information about corporate dealings.

The Bulgarian prosecution office recently accused two Russian diplomats of spying. A preliminary police investigation found that the Russians had been collecting secret information for several years and forwarding it to Moscow.

One of the suspects, who has diplomatic status, is believed to have been involved in data collection since 2017. He focused on information relating to the mechanisms of the election process in Bulgaria. According to the prosecution office, the suspect was the first secretary of the consular division of the Russian embassy in Sofia.

The second suspect, who also has diplomatic immunity, worked in the Russian trade house in Bulgaria. Local law enforcement is convinced that, since October 2018, he has been collecting information on government and official secrets in the energy and energy security sphere. He did so by establishing contact with people who have direct access to the documents. The Bulgarian authorities believe that he reported everything to Moscow.

The Bulgarian prosecutors claim to have all the necessary evidence to prosecute the suspects. However, the investigation had to be closed, since the suspects have diplomatic immunity.

In the end, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry decided to expel the Russians. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the decision as “openly hostile and provocative”.

  Russia, Japan