Leaked diplomatic cables reveal Australian spy agencies have intensified secret operations with the United States and Japan, seeking to obtain sensitive information from China, North Korea and Iran.
But the allied intelligence effort has been set back by concerns over poor security in Japan for handling secret documents.
The insight into co-operation between Japanese, American and Australian intelligence agencies has been provided by embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Fairfax newspapers.
The cables show a major push by the three countries dating back to 2006 to unite in response to China's growing economic and military might.
They also reveal that problems posed by North Korea and Iran, together with the threat of terrorism, prompted moves towards greater intelligence co-operation between Tokyo, Washington and Canberra.