Masaru Tsuji, former Deputy Director-General of the CIRO

Masaru Tsuji, former Deputy Director-General of the CIRO (Source: Jiji)

Last week, JSW reported on Noda’s cabinet reshuffle which saw Naoki Tanaka moving in as Defense Minister, but we weren’t aware that one of the other resignations came from one of Japan’s chief intelligence branches – the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office (CIRO – pronounced ‘sairo’/Naicho). On Tuesday, Masaru Tsuji, Deputy Director-General of the CIRO stepped down, according to Jiji Press.

The office, which is comprised of around 130 permanent staff and 180 seconded officials from across the government (particularly the National Police Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Defense), is comparable to the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee, in that it is charged with collating not only open source intelligence (OSINT), but also intelligence from the ministries for dissemination to the cabinet, and it is also the parent organization of the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center. It plays a central role in the albeit modest Japanese intelligence community and is supposed to be a coordinating body to fulfill this role – its lack of manpower, however, makes this unrealistic.

Tsuji was on secondment from the MOFA and has been made Ambassador to Croatia (replacing Yoshio Tamura, who was accused of sexual harassment by a local employed at the embassy), but his old post will remain vacant for some time – a curious move that has left intelligence watchers puzzled. Director-General Shinichi Uematsu, of the NPA (who typically supplies the position), stepped down on December 27th and replaced by Shigeru Kitamura, with Jiji attributing the change as an intelligence shake-up following the intelligence surprise of Kim Jong-il’s death. However, it now seems that the reason for the current vacancy lies within MOFA (who customarily fills the Deputy Director-General position), and while Jiji also reported that Tsuji might be replaced by Takashi Kurai, Chief of the Central and Eastern Europe Section of MOFA, it seems that is unlikely to happen now.

Below is the structure of the CIRO, roughly translated from the website – click to see the image in its full glory:

Structure of CIRO

Structure of CIRO (Adapted from CIRO) - Click for full-size image

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch