Report says U.S. spied on Japan to gain ‘economic advantage’


Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera expressed discomfort Tuesday over a U.S. newspaper report that Japan is among the countries covered by the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance.

Onodera told a news conference that he was not aware of the reported practice.

“It is never desirable to carry out acts that would undermine trust between friends including allies. I don’t want to believe what was reported,” he said.

Japan needs a solid system for protecting state secrets, and he will instruct defense officials to remain vigilant, Onodera said.

The remarks followed a recent report by The New York Times that the NSA routinely spies on allies as well as enemies. The report said the U.S. carried out the surveillance to gain an “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other nations.

At a separate news conference, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato refrained from commenting on the report but said Japan and the U.S. have already been in touch over the NSA’s collection of communications records. Tokyo has asked the Washington maintain closer contacts in regard to the issue, he said.