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Japan provided intelligence to the U.S. and Britain last year showing evidence of China’s forceful detainment of the Muslim Uighur minority on condition of keeping the source confidential, a source tells Kyodo.

The move shows Japan has already been sharing key intelligence with partners behind the scenes amid calls within the government to join the “Five Eyes” intel-sharing alliance to better respond to threats by North Korea and China.

Japan seeks Australian assistance to join Five Eyes (October) | SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA
Japan seeks Australian assistance to join Five Eyes (October) | SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA

Japan as the alliance’s sixth eye is a great idea, argued U.K. Conservative lawmaker David Howell in a commentary back in June. “Behind this whole issue lies, of course, the overarching question of how best to deal with China,” Howell writes. “What the world needs is for China to prosper but not to bully.”

Membership of Five Eyes makes some sense given Japan’s needs and what it can contribute, admits commentator Brad Glosserman. But two obstacles loom large, and while these are not insuperable, they are formidable.

“Creating ‘Six Eyes’ would be a real accomplishment for Japan, but the vital question is whether it is the most effective response to the burgeoning competition with revisionist governments, of which China is just one,” argues Glosserman. “This requires a broad coalition of the like-minded, one that addresses a much wider set of issues than intelligence needs and offerings.”

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