Public Security Intelligence Agency

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Public Security Intelligence Agency
PSIA English logo.jpg
Official logo in English
Agency overview
FormedJuly 21, 1952; 68 years ago (1952-07-21)
Preceding agencies
  • Investigation Bureau (IB), Home Ministry (1946)[1]
  • Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB), 2nd Office (1948)[1]
  • Special Investigation Board (SIB), Attorney General's Office (1948-1949)[4][5][a]
JurisdictionGovernment of Japan
HeadquartersChiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Employees+/- 1,646 officers (As of 2019)[2]
Annual budget15,039,257,000 Yen (As of 2019)[3]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Masaki Wada, Director-General
Parent agencyMinistry of Justice
WebsiteOfficial Site (in Japanese)

The Public Security Intelligence Agency (公安調査庁, kōanchōsa-chō) is the national intelligence agency of Japan. It is administered by the Ministry of Justice in the government of Japan, and is tasked with internal security and espionage against threats to Japanese national security based on the Subversive Activities Prevention Act and the Act Regarding the Control of Organizations Which Committed Indiscriminate Mass Murder.[6][7] Any investigation conducted by the agency needs to go through the Public Security Examination Commission (PSEC) in order to determine if there is a justification to investigate and clamp down on an organization's activities.[8]

As the national agency with the role to collect intelligence information, the PSIA contributes to Japanese government policy by providing relevant organizations with necessary foreign and domestic data (collected through investigations and intelligence activities) on subversive organizations.[6] It is also known that the PSIA is responsible for conducting surveillance and intelligence-related work on Zainichi Koreans on Japanese soil.[6]

The PSIA's findings are released publicly through the annually-published Naigai Jousei no Kaiko to Tenbo (Situation in Public Security inside and outside Japan and their prospect) as well as regularly-published Kokusai Terrorism Youran (International Terrorism Report).[8]

According to Philip H.J. Davies and Kristian Gustafson, the PSIA operates similarly to the British security agency MI5[9] since officers have no rights to arrest anyone during a law enforcement operation nor force anyone to be involved in an investigation.[8][5]


PSIA officers make an inspection to a suspected Aum Shinrikyo building in 2012.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency was established with the enforcement of the Subversive Activities Prevention Law on 21 July 1952, [7] initially known as the Public Security Investigation Agency before it changed to its current name.[1] The PSIA took over the role of the SIB, which was established by the Allied Forces during the occupation.[5] Most of the recruits came from the disbanded Tokumu Kikan and led by officials from the pre-occupation Ministry of Justice.[5]

Initially focusing on threats from far left groups such as the Japanese Red Army during the days of the Cold War, it began to conduct intelligence work on the Aum Shinrikyo after the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995,[6] with criticism that the PSIA did not monitor the group, especially with their attempt to acquire and stockpile biological weapons on Japanese soil.[10] The PSIA had cooperated with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Public Security Bureau in investigating Aum Shinrikyo for a number of years. When asked about their investigation on the cult, a PSIA report had said "There has been no change in its dangerous nature. Strict surveillance is essential."[11]

The PSIA had investigated Aum Shinrikyo when it was revealed that the group had established software firms that could pose security risks to Japan.[12]

Chongryon has been under PSIA surveillance for a long time, suspecting it of supposedly performing espionage activities in Japanese soil.[13] The Ministry of Justice has sought ¥270 million to fund the PSIA on conducting intelligence against North Korean espionage activities.[14] Its facilities were also raided by the PSIA while sentencing for its leaders were underway in 2004.[15]

The PSIA had been supposed to be integrated with Naicho in order to reorient the agency to a post-Cold War and to enhance its resources, but the proposal was not adopted.[10]

An investigation into French Al-Qaeda terrorist Lionel Dumont had been the responsibility of the PSIA in 2004 based on rumors that he was supposed to establish a Japanese Al-Qaeda cell.[16] The PSIA raided the headquarters of Fumihiro Joyu's Hikari no Wa on May 10, 2007.[17] Despite insistence from Joyu that his group had ended ties with Aum Shinrikyo, PSIA officials have warned that his group has ties to Shoko Asahara after conducting raids.[18]

In the wake of Kim Jong-il's death in 2011, the PSIA reported that they are undertaking intelligence work on North Korea by conducting intelligence work towards Chongryon, as they had remitted money and gifts to North Korea before sanctions were imposed.[19]

In 2015, the PSIA offered university students a one-day immersion to work alongside veteran PSIA officers.[20]

On July 14, 2016, the PSIA sent officers to Sapporo to investigate Aleph's Shiroshi Ward facility under the Act on the Control of Organizations Which Have Committed Acts of Indiscriminate Mass Murder.[21]

In January 2017, Okinawa press reported that the PSIA has conducted investigation into pro-Okinawan independence and anti-USFJ bases activist groups for potential links to China.[22]

In December 2019, an anti-Aum Shinrikyo video was created by the agency in order to raise public awareness that the group is still a threat to public safety.[23]

In recent years, the PSIA is eyed as the basis for the creation of a new foreign intelligence agency should Prime Minister Abe go through with plans.[24]


While the PSIA is known to conduct its operations on domestic soil,[10] there are suggestions that they have conducted limited operations overseas.

In the 2000s, the PSIA was reported to have conducted undercover operations at the Chinese-North Korean border by distributing flyers to locals in obtaining information regarding Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.[25]

From 2005 to 2016, reports of Japanese nationals being arrested throughout China for taking photos of sensitive installations or conducting illegal activities under cover of legal occupations suggests that the PSIA has recruited expats working/living in China to conduct limited HUMINT ops.[22] These allegations have never been officially confirmed.[25] According to a National Police Agency official, the PSIA has done a bad job in China if reports do prove that the expats arrested were covertly recruited by the agency.[26]


The PSIA is formed with the current organization:[27]

  • Internal Departments
    • General Affairs Department
      • Trial Office
      • Planning and Coordination Office
      • Information Management Office
      • Public Relations and Communications Office
      • Human Resources Section
      • Work Promotion Office
    • First Intelligence Department (Domestic Intelligence, headed by career police officer)[8][28]
    • Second Intelligence Department (Foreign Intelligence, headed by career/non-career person)[8]
      • Section 1 (Japanese Red Army and international terrorism investigation)
      • Section 2 (Foreign intelligence investigation, including liaising with foreign agents stationed in Japan)
      • Third Division (North Korean investigation)
      • Fourth Division (China/Southeast Asia/Russia/Europe/United States investigation)
  • Institute
    • Training Institute (Located in Akishima)[29]
  • Regional Bureaus
    • Hokkaido (Hokkaido Bureau), Miyagi (Tohoku Bureau), Tokyo (Kanto Bureau), Aichi (Chubu Bureau), Osaka (Kinki Bureau), Hiroshima (Chugoku Bureau), Kagawa (Shikoku Bureau) and Fukuoka (Kyushu Bureau)
      • Public Security Intelligence Offices (Hokkaido, Iwate, Niigata, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Nagano, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Kumamoto and Okinawa.)

Foreign ties[edit]

The PSIA has ties to several foreign intelligence as security agencies, including the CIA, FBI, Mossad, RAW and MI6, with several PSIA agents being invited to train with the CIA under its Intelligence Analysis Course.[6]

In October 2018, Chen Wenqiang, head of the Ministry of State Security, visited the PSIA in order to collaborate on antiterrorism activities prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.[26]

Known Directors-General of PSIA[edit]


The PSIA has faced criticism in the past for being ineffective, in part because it has little ability to direct its own activities; if it wants to target an organization it suspects, an ad hoc body that meets only when required, the PSEC, must approve it.[8] The PSIA can also not make arrests nor compel cooperation through any other means.[8] The criticism was especially made when the public found out that the agency did not move against Aum Shinrikyo.[10]


  1. ^ The translation provided by the English website of the PSIA translates the English name of the SIB as Bureau of Special Investigation.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ "e-Gov法令検索". May 20, 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-05-20.
  3. ^ (PDF). April 8, 2019 Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-04-08. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Wildes 1953, p. 667.
  5. ^ a b c d "Intelligence in the New Japan — Central Intelligence Agency".
  6. ^ a b c d e Public Security Investigation Agency. Retrieved on January 5, 2008.
  7. ^ a b HISTORICAL BACKGROUND, Official PSIA Webpage. Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on January 5, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g
  9. ^ Davis & Gustafson 2013, p. 185.
  10. ^ a b c d Japan's Growing Intelligence Capabilities, Andrew Oros. Archived 2009-03-20 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on June 9, 2008.
  11. ^ "JAPANESE OFFICIALS FEAR RESURGENCE OF AUM SHINRI KYO CULT". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008.
  12. ^ "Aum Shinri-kyo Updates (CESNUR) - April 10-17, 2000".
  13. ^ Shimizu, Kaho (July 10, 2007). "Chongryun never gets out from under a cloud". Japan Times Online.
  14. ^ "Japan Primer". University of Texas. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  15. ^ "Aum locations searched in runup to guru's verdict". Japan Times Online. February 17, 2004.
  16. ^ Al-Qaeda agent lived quiet life in Niigata | The Japan Times
  17. ^ Cult group of former Aum official inspected by public safety agency. Retrieved on May 10, 2007.
  18. ^ Hongo, Jun (November 22, 2011). "Last trial brings dark Aum era to end". Japan Times Online.
  19. ^ "Japan Raises Info-Gathering Activities in Response to Kim Jong-il's Death".
  20. ^ Osumi, Magdalena (July 1, 2015). "Japan's spy service offers students one-day immersion course in tradecraft". Japan Times Online.
  21. ^ "Aum successor group set up new facility in Sapporo: intelligence agency". Japan Times Online. July 14, 2016.
  22. ^ a b Samuels 2019, p. 219.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Japan eyes MI6-style spy agency as it seeks to shed pacifist past". Reuters. March 6, 2015 – via
  25. ^ a b Samuels 2019, p. 218.
  26. ^ a b Samuels 2019, p. 220.
  27. ^ "ORGANIZATION, Official PSIA Webpage". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  28. ^ Dover, Goodman & Hillebrand 2014, p. 203.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Chongryun HQ sold to ex-intelligence head | The Japan Times
  31. ^ a b Chongryun Tokyo HQ sale seems set to fail | The Japan Times


  • Davies, Philip H.J.; Gustafson, Kristian, eds. (2013). Intelligence Elsewhere: Spies and Espionage Outside the Anglosphere. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-1589019560.
  • Dover, Robert; Goodman, Michael S.; Hillebrand, Claudia, eds. (2014). Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1589019560.
  • Samuels, Richard J. (2019). Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-1501741586.
  • Wildes, Harry Emerson (1953). "The Postwar Japanese Police". The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science. 43 (5): 655–671. doi:10.2307/1139663. JSTOR 1139663.

External links[edit]