The agency is said to be an equal to the American Central Intelligence Agency. However, it is often criticized as being rather ineffectual, spending most of its energy translating foreign publications rather than gathering any substantial intelligence, while being accused of spying on Japanese nationals on domestic soil.
Like most intelligence agencies in Japan, its personnel are usually recruited from other agencies. Around 100 out of 170 CIRO agents are from other agencies/ministries with top positions occupied by career police officers.
The CIRO was created by the Allied Forces through the formation of the Prime Ministers's Research Office (内閣総理大臣官房調査室, Naikakusōri Daijin Kanbō Chōsa-Shitsu) in April 1952 with Jun Murai as the first director in an attempt to replicate its structure after the CIA. But due to widespread opposition, this plan was discarded. The RO was placed under jurisdiction of the Prime Minister's office in 1957 and was known as the Cabinet Research Office (内閣調査室, Naikaku Chōsa-Shitsu). The CRO was later renamed as the CIRO in 1986.
The Cabinet Intensive Information Center was established on April 11, 1996 to ensure that the CIRO can inform the Prime Minister in case of severe emergencies. It's located in the Prime Minister's residence.
In August 2007, discussions of intelligence reforms through the paper Improvement of Counter-Intelligence Functions resulted in the establishment of the Counterintelligence Center. It's been suggested that the CIC can be used as the basis for the creation of an actual external intelligence agency similar to the CIA.
In 2013, CIRO satellite imagery analysis was used to assist NGOs in Tacloban for reconstruction work in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
Since 2015, CIRO agents are usually recruited to be sent to the International Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Collection Unit.
On January 17, 2008, an official of Naichō was charged for spying for Russians, passing them classified information. The Russians denied the claim. Since then, there had been calls for greater accountability on Naichō.
Cabinet Intensive Information Center (内閣情報集約センター): Secures information related to disasters and other emergencies. Staffed by twenty agents from the Ministry of Defense, National Police Agency, Fire Disaster and Management Agency and the Japan Coast Guard.
Cabinet Intelligence Analysts (内閣情報分析官)
Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center (内閣衛星情報センター): Operates a network of surveillance satellites, such as the IGS-Optical and IGS-Radar series. As of June 2018, Japan has six functioning observation satellites in orbit. It was established in 2001 and has 320 personnel employed with at least 100 of them being imagery intelligence analysts. The Deputy Director position is filled by a senior officer from the NPA.
Counterintelligence Center (カウンターインテリジェンスセンター): Coordinates government action based on the " Improvement of Counter-Intelligence Functions " policy.