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Japan to toughen visa rules amid fears of Chinese espionage

Tokyo to tighten inspections of visa applications from foreign students, researchers

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan is reportedly stepping up scrutiny of visa applications from foreign students and researchers in light of growing concerns over Chinese espionage in the country.

According to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the Japanese government is planning to implement stricter visa requirements next year to prevent foreign interference and technology theft by international students and academic researchers. The report said the move is a response to rising fears in Japan that sensitive information is being funneled to other countries, especially China.

Japan's National Security Agency and a number of ministries will conduct stricter background checks of visa applicants and include suspicious persons in a system accessible to all government agencies as well as to diplomatic officials abroad, according to the report. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has also requested a budget of US$2.8 million for measures related to the closer inspections in the next fiscal year.

Once implemented, Japan will join countries like the U.S. and Australia in raising its guard against China's alleged espionage operations.

In September, Washington revoked the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese graduate students and researchers linked to the Chinese Communist Party, saying many of them had stolen data and intellectual property. Meanwhile, Australia has launched several investigations into Chinese scholars and journalists on the grounds of national security.