The Yomiuri Shimbun
March 20, 2007
An ongoing criminal case that indicates China is seeking to acquire
Japanese high technology is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
A Chinese engineer working for leading auto parts manufacturer Denso
Corp. has been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement for allegedly
downloading information from the company's database into a personal
computer provided by the firm for company use and removing the PC from
the company premises.
The engineer is alleged to have downloaded about 130,000 blueprints for
items including an industrial robot and a diesel fuel injection pump.
The downloaded data cover about 1,700 products, of which 280 were
categorized as classified.
The engineer downloaded most of the data in the latter half of last
year. Since October, he has traveled to China three times. He destroyed
his own PC's hard disk in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.
This suspicious behavior indicates he has already leaked classified
information to China.
National interest at risk
Denso enjoys a high global reputation for its technologies and products.
The downloaded blueprints are for commercial products, but they could be
converted to build military hardware. Vast amounts of such data may
already have been passed to China. The case must be thoroughly
investigated to determine whether the data was stolen for commercial or
Denso's data management clearly was lax. The issue is not the losses
incurred by one company, but whether Japan's national interests were
Before coming to Japan, the Chinese engineer worked for a state-run
military company that manufactures missiles and other products. He
serves as deputy chairman of an association of auto engineers in Japan
whose members include Chinese nationals.
We wonder why a foreigner with such a background was assigned to a
section where important information was accessible.
Anti-espionage laws lacking
At a time when economic activities between Japan and China are
intensifying, Yamaha Motor Co. has been charged with illegally exporting
unmanned helicopters to China. The National Police Agency believes China
is trying to obtain various advanced technologies and related
information in Japan.
Following a series of revisions, the maximum penalty for leaking
corporate secrets stipulated in the Unfair Competition Prevention Law
has been increased to 10 years in prison--in line with punitive
provisions in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act.
The Penal Code stipulates a maximum penalty of five years in prison for
embezzlement. The police reportedly also plan to establish a case under
the Unfair Competition Prevention Law as it provides for a heavier
Though there are some controls on spying under the Unfair Competition
Prevention Law, some government officials have pointed out that no
legislation has been established to deal comprehensively with espionage
The issue is not limited to confidential data in the private sector. The
government must quickly come up with ways to prevent foreign spies
obtaining defense and diplomatic secrets.
Management of important information and employment of foreign engineers
and researchers are not issues that can be left to the private sector
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