The U.S. government spied on Japanese government officials, including those in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, and several Japanese companies, according to documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday. The publication of the documents, named “Target Tokyo,” comes days after the whistleblower website released similar reports of the U.S. spying on France, Germany and Brazil.
“In these documents we see the Japanese government worrying in private about how much or how little to tell the United States, in order to prevent undermining of its climate change proposal or its diplomatic relationship. And yet we now know that the United States heard everything and read everything,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement, accompanying the documents. “The lesson for Japan is this: do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules.”
The communications intercepted by the U.S. spy agency range from Japanese government deliberations over agricultural imports and trade disputes, negotiating positions in the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization in 2009, to the Asian nation’s climate change, nuclear and energy policy and carbon emissions schemes.
The 35 “top secret” NSA targets for telephone intercepts include the Japanese Cabinet office, Bank of Japan officials -- including Haruhiko Kuroda, the current governor of the bank -- finance and trade ministry members and fossil fuel departments at Mitsubishi and Mitsui.
The period of spying on Abe’s cabinet dates back to his first term in office from September 2006 to September 2007, during which a “government VIP line” was also tapped. In 2007, for instance, a confidential briefing about Japan’s carbon emissions reduction target that took place at Abe’s official residence was eavesdropped on.
The U.S. and Japan have been allies for over 50 years since the end of World War II. The latest WikiLeaks revelations come just months after Abe visited the White House and President Barack Obama called Japan “one of America’s closest allies in the world.”