Information Warfare: the Communist Party of China’s Influence Operations in the United States and Japan
As a relatively open and democratic society Japan offers several points of entry for CPC influence operations.
The first of these points is Japanese universities. According to areport by AidData, Japan was home to 14 Confucius Institutes in 2016. Although this pales in comparison to the U.S. figure ( 107 as of July 2018), it is tied for second-most in Asia and Oceania (behind South Korea).
Indeed, according to the report 29 percent of China’s public diplomacy activities are conducted through the institutes. Compared to media coverage in the United States, however, concern about the institutes remains sparse.
Japanese universities also offer the CPC access to their students. According to AidData’s report, the CPC sets up exchange programs between universities “to create personal relationships between Chinese people and their counterparts in receiving countries to build trust and grow a ‘cadre of willing interpreters and receivers’ that adopt China’s norms and values in the political . . . sphere.”
Given that Beijing has positioned China’s interests as diametrically opposed to Japan’s in some cases, such as the dispute over the Senkaku islands, its “cadre growing” efforts have been met with opposition from Tokyo.