China-made software collects text data without users’ knowledge


 The government’s National Information Security Center has warned about 140 organisations, not to use a Japanese input method editor developed by Baidu

Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN | 26-12-13

The government’s National Information Security Center has warned about 140 organisations, including government ministries and agencies as well as universities and research institutes, not to use a Japanese input method editor developed by Baidu Inc., China’s biggest search engine company, after it was found that text data typed into computers are sent to the company’s server without the users’ knowledge, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The NISC said it cannot be denied that important information might have been leaked from those organisations.

According to an investigation by The Yomiuri Shimbun, Baidu IME is installed in some computers at the Foreign Ministry and at least 12 universities, including the University of Tokyo.

If the software is used in default settings, words and texts typed in a search window, e-mail, word-processing software and others are automatically sent to Baidu’s server.

In Japan, about two million people are using Baidu IME, according to Baidu’s Japanese unit.


Japan mulls nationalising unclaimed islands

National Jul. 16, 2013 – 06:52AM JST ( 32 )

Japan mulls nationalising unclaimed islands
A Taiwan fishing boat is blocked by the Japan Coast Guard near the disputed Diaoyu / Senkaku islands, September 2012AFP


Japan may nationalise any unclaimed remote islands in its waters in a bid to bolster its territorial claims, a newspaper said Monday amid a dispute with China over one set.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is to establish a task force to research owners and names of some 400 remote islands, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

If their ownership is unclear, the government will give official names to the islands and nationalise them, the mass-circulation daily reported.

“Japan plans to end the  research next year and quickly take action, including nationalisation, to remote islands with no ownership,” the daily said.

The 400 islands are scattered across waters surrounding the Japanese archipelago.

The task force will comprise officials from the finance and justice ministries as well as the coast guard.

The move is part of Japan’s efforts to preserve maritime resources as the country faces ongoing territorial disputes with its neighbors, the newspaper added.

In 2012, ahead of the planned project, Japan announced plans to give names to some 40 other islands, including some near those at the center of a dispute with China, in an effort to verify the extent of the nation’s exclusive economic zone.

Tensions have steadily risen between China and Japan, which accuses its powerful neighbor of sending an increasing number of ships to exert its claim over sparsely populated islands managed by Tokyo in the East China Sea.

The territorial row over the islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, was reignited last September when Tokyo nationalised three islands in the chain in what it said was a mere administrative change of ownership.

Beijing has also disputed Tokyo’s claim to Okinotorishima, which lies 1,700 kilometers south of Tokyo, saying the wave-swept atoll cannot be regarded as an island under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

© 2013 AFP


Japan seeks to ‘nationalize’ islands

With an Upper House election looming this weekend, the Japanese cabinet plans to strengthen territorial claims on hundreds of remote islands in the East China Sea. -China

Daily/ANN  Tue, Jul 16, 2013    China Daily/Asia News Network

With an Upper House election looming this weekend, the Japanese cabinet plans to strengthen territorial claims on hundreds of remote islands in the East China Sea, observers said.

Tokyo will “nationalise” some islands that have no private owners shortly after a survey of islands is completed in 2014, leading Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun quoted an unnamed government source as saying on Monday.

The Japanese government plans to establish a task force to research the ownership and names of around 400 islands, a move described by Agence France-Presse as an attempt to bolster Japan’s territorial claims.

The latest move is designed to establish more reference points in territorial waters, and if the islands’ ownership is unclear, the government will officially name and nationalise them, the newspaper reported.

Wu Hui, an international law expert at the University of International Relations in Beijing, said if part of these islands falls into the scope of territorial disputes, other countries may lodge serious protests.

“Moreover, a unilateral move to nationalise islands will raise questions over the legitimacy of such a move.”

China-Japan relations were greatly damaged after Tokyo illegally nationalised part of China’s Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea in September.

As far as Tokyo is concerned, nationalizing controversial remote islands is part of legislative preparations for further claims, Wu said.

The island survey was announced shortly after the Japanese defence authorities indicated that they may “guard and retake” remote islands, analysts said.

The Japanese Defence Ministry is proposing “boosting the marine functions of the Self-Defence Forces” in its interim report for a planned revision of the country’s long-term defence policy, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported on Sunday.

The move underscores the importance attached by the ministry to strengthening the Self-Defence Forces’ ability to defend remote islands, Kyodo said.

Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, “Tokyo is now attempting greater control of maritime areas in order to give it an advantage in territorial disputes.

“Japan is seeking to be a political and military power with its moves on maritime disputes and its so-called measures to secure maritime interests,” Li said.

In mid-June, the Japanese armed forces participated in a joint military drill with the US Army, which involved the simulated retaking an airport occupied by an “enemy”.

These moves highlight Tokyo’s “desperation” to defend and retake remote islands at an early date, said major Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit Okinawa Prefecture in the southwest of the country on Tuesday.

The trip seems to demonstrate his determination to enhance the defence of remote islands amid the flaring up of tension with China, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper said.

“It is rare for a prime minister to visit remote islands during an election campaign,” Japan’s Jiji Press News Agency commented.


Japanese firms look at other countries as alternatives to China

By Shingo Ito

BusinessOct. 01, 2012 – 06:37AM JST( 0 )


Riots at Japanese factories, stricter customs inspections and other barriers thrown up over a territorial row have reawakened an alarmed Japan Inc to the risks of doing business with China, analysts say.

Although abandoning well-developed manufacturing bases in China is not an option, Japanese firms are starting to look at other countries, such as Myanmar, as alternatives.

Sometimes violent demonstrations erupted in cities across China earlier this month while consumers have boycotted Japanese products in response to Tokyo’s nationalization of an island chain it controls but which Beijing also claims.

Factories and stores were shuttered amid vandalism and arson, or feared assaults on staff.

Most quickly reopened, but Japanese companies in China then began reporting difficulties with getting their products through customs, and longer waiting times for visas for their staff.

There has been nothing big enough to dam two-way trade—worth $342.9 billion last year, according to Chinese figures—but the strictures have been enough for Japanese firms to reconsider the cost of doing business with its neighbor.

“No one knows when such demos will happen again in China in the near future,” said Takeshi Takayama, an economist at NLI Research Institute in Tokyo.

Takayama says China, which is no longer a mere production base, is likely to remain Japan’s biggest trading partner for now, as the world’s second largest economy is too big to ignore.

“But I think Japanese companies will shift part of their investment from China to other Asian countries for sure,” Takayama said. “The demos reminded Japanese companies of China risks again.”

Toyota and Nissan said Wednesday they would cut production in China because demand for Japanese cars has been hit.

And the airline ANA announced it had received 40,000 seat cancellations for the three months to November, as tourists from both countries get cold feet.

Two years ago, a diplomatic row—over the same islands—stymied shipments of rare earths to Japan, hampering the manufacture of hi-tech products.

Calm was eventually restored and Japan Inc resumed its huge investment in China, worth $6.3 billion last year, up 50% from the previous year. The United States invested $3 billion over the period, down 26%, according to official Chinese data.

But the renewed diplomatic tensions have rung alarm bells.

“We understand why one Japanese business leader after another is expressing wariness about investment in China,” the Yomiuri Shimbun said in an editorial.

“It is highly likely that Japanese companies will sharply curb their investment in China and instead increase investment in other Asian countries,” the mass-circulation daily said.

Analysts say a slowdown in the Chinese economy, as well as a rise in labor costs are practical factors that come into play as part of a rethink that means China is no longer the destination of choice.

The Philippines on Wednesday said it was courting companies stung by the territorial spat, offering tax incentives and promoting a well-educated population, economic stability and a drive to stamp out corruption.

Thailand and Vietnam offer well-worn paths, but rapidly opening-up Myanmar could prove a real investment frontier, commentators say.

“Myanmar is quite a hopeful destination for Japan,” said Yukio Suzuki, chief analyst at Belle Investment Research of Japan, in Tokyo.

“Sentiment toward Japan is not so bad there,” he said.

During years of isolation, Japan—unlike Western allies—maintained trade ties and dialogue with Myanmar, wary that a hard line on the then-ruling junta could push it closer to China.

And Tokyo has moved to capitalise on the thawing in Naypyidaw’s relations with the outside world since decades of outright military rule were ended, announcing in April it would waive about $3.7 billion of debt.

All Nippon Airways will start regular flights to Yangon on Oct 15, while major Japanese contractor Shimizu will reopen a branch it closed in 1999.

The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry dispatched a large delegation to Myanmar this week to hold talks with local business leaders and high-ranking government officials.

Belle Investment analyst Suzuki said a push into Myanmar could prove a boon, and the timing of the spat with China might just play in Japan’s favor.

“Myanmar is near empty and short-term profit cannot be expected,” he said. “But Japanese companies may steal a march if they take action now.”

© 2012 AFP