WikiLeaks alleges widespread U.S. spying on Japanese government, major companies


Staff Writer

Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks released a trove of documents Friday titled “Target Tokyo” detailing alleged U.S. National Security Agency’s snooping on the Japanese government and businesses — just as negotiators from 12 nations, including Japan and the U.S., hope to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In a press release, WikiLeaks claimed to publish a tranche of what appeared to be four NSA reports marked top secret that reveal Japanese talks on climate change issues and international trade.

“In these documents we see the Japanese government worrying in private about how much or how little to tell the United States . . .” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in an accompanying statement.

One of the reports appears to note that it was shared with the United States’ “Five Eyes” intelligence partners, a grouping comprised of Australia, Canada, the U.K. and New Zealand.

“The sense that Japan is being sidelined in favor of other allies will hurt, and will not be something that (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) will be able to deflect easily,” said John Swenson-Wright of the Chatham House think tank in London.

Included in the tranche were what appeared to be 35 NSA targets for telephone intercepts in Japan, including the switchboard and officials working at the Cabinet Office, the executive secretary of the chief Cabinet secretary’s office and a line listed in the release as “Government VIP Line.”

Numerous other bureaucrats appeared to have been on the list, including officials from the Bank of Japan, the Finance Ministry and the trade ministry.

The natural gas division of Mitsubishi and the petroleum division of Mitsui & Co. were also mentioned.

The published documents purport to show that the snooping extended back to at least Abe’s first term as prime minister, between September 2006 and September 2007.

WikiLeaks’ release of the tranche comes as the U.S., Japan and 10 other nations are working to iron out their differences for participation in the TPP free trade pact.

The officials had planned to announce the outcome of the trade talks at a joint news conference planned for Friday afternoon, but WikiLeaks’ revelations could throw a wrench into those plans.

According to the documents, the U.S. had gleaned intimate details of internal Japanese deliberations on trade-related issues, including agricultural imports and trade disputes and positions.

The spying provides “serious insight into the goings-on of the government,” said James Simpson, a Tokyo-based defense analyst and contributor to Jane’s Defence Weekly.

“Japan is going to be horrified to see (news of the leaks) entering the public domain,” Simpson added.

Nevertheless, he said, “the Japanese government sees the TPP in a much bigger, multilateral sense. There won’t be any major changes.”

  • The US Gov. is pretty much sitting on Abe`s shoulder and he and the LDP does his best to follow as quick as possible their wishes. ( see War Bill, Okinawa Henoko ).

    Im sure the Japan Gov. doesnt mind spying, they are puppets anyway.

    • zer0_0zor0

      Exactly, the CIA helped bring about the fall of Hatoyama because of his support for the Okinawans, etc.

    • 麥凱

      That is pretty wrong. Abe’s bills (hardly war bills) will in fact increase independence from the U.S. by allowing Japan to create security arrangements with other countries.

      If we follow the logic, and take his philosophy into account, Abe’s ultimate goal is to remove or substantially decrease the U.S. presence from Japan. Indeed, if you follow Japanese politics at all you’d know that is precisely what he is trying to do, and that is definitely something we as citizens and residents of this country should support.

  • Ike Knight

    Everyone spies on everyone. You can be sure that Japan spies on the US as well. And they are aware of this. This is much ado about nothing.

    • zer0_0zor0


      • Ike Knight

        So naive.

      • zer0_0zor0

        Well, there’s spying, and then there’s spying.

        This happens to be news…

      • EveryOne’sATroll

        This happens to be “news” because Wikileaks, or Assange rather, has it out for the United States. Japan has a right to be angry, but they should wait before they get publicly outraged. Germany as a whole looked pretty damn stupid when they got outraged over U.S. spying only to find out a few weeks later that their intelligence services were doing the same exact thing.

      • Tando

        The Germans looked damn stupid because they found out that their own intelligence service is spying on their own companies on behalf of the nsa and that their own government does everything to cover it up. The Germans certainly don’t tap the phone of the American president.

      • Because they can’t?

      • Tando

        Yes exactly because they can`t. First, because Germany is still in a semi occupied state, the US military and civil facilities are completely under American control even the German secret service. Second the US wages war and spies on the rest of the world at will because they can get away with it. It is only when something like 9/11 happens that they ask themselves, “Why do they hate us so much”. Third, because priorities are different. Not every country is so paranoid to spend as much as the US on weaponry and spy activities.

      • I don’t think its paranoid. I think they think they can handle in, and it costs money to stay the most powerful. Also its a source of exports. Their leverage over other countries is an extorted sense that we can compel people to buy their exports. i.e. Fighter jets with poor performance.

      • EveryOne’sATroll

        You are a very naive person, aren’t you? Everyone spies on the U.S. Everyone. The Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis, the French. You name it, they have probably tried their hand at it. Whether or not they were successful makes no difference. And don’t be so naive to think that everyone in general isn’t spying on everyone.

      • Tando

        Ah ya see, paranoid, just as I said.

      • EveryOne’sATroll

        Paranoid? Not really. I’m just a realist. Also, remember Jonathan Pollard? That was some pretty real spying by a U.S. “ally”. I take it you are probably still a teenager with a grasp of the realities of the world that is tenuous at best. And if you are going to make such broad statements about what you “know”, you should probably do a little research first. Der Spigel’s report showed that the BND had spied on conversations by both Hillary Clinton AND John Kerry, as well as Turkey, a NATO Ally.

      • EveryOne’sATroll

        Don’t be so naive.

  • panic early

    Gotta keep an eye on the colonies. This sop for any empire.

  • Van Vong

    Japanese cars are killing American Economy. Of course, we are spying on them. Abe is an American turned fascist, we are spying on him is a must.

    • EveryOne’sATroll

      Wipe your chin.

  • Why would anyone be concerned with people knowing what others know, or purport to do; yet be indifferent to that the fact that said parties are stealing funds from taxpayers and imprisoning people on the basis of dubious laws. There is a huge disconnect in people’s minds. Govts are slave agents; they are not ‘moral agents’. They are agencies with a jurisdictional monopoly to extort for their support base. A constitution does not stop them; it legitimatises them.

  • Its just occurred to me that Wikileaks is ‘self-righteously’ critical of the US for ‘spying’ on Japan; but the implication of ‘leaks’ is that Wikileaks is ‘spying’ on governments. There are three distinctions:
    a. The US govt was elected – means nothing to me
    b. The US pays people to leak/collect leaks; Wikileaks relies on ‘humanists’ within govt agencies to leak. I think the motives/moral standards of these people are just as dubious.
    c. Wikileaks relies on voluntary payments; though it could be argued that its ‘results’ are the source of their support, so it begs the question are their ‘results’ moral. The US relies on stolen/expropriated taxpayers funds to support its agenda; like Japan and other govts.

    • tisho

      I think the difference is that Wikileaks is rather collecting undisclosed information they determine to be important to the public, and then disclosing it to the public. What governments do is spying on each other for reasons such as commercial secrets, military secrets, political objectives. Some of these espionage acts could be unconstitutional, illegal or even dangerous for public or international safety, it is for those cases that Wikileaks steal that information and disclose it to the public in an attempt to prevent farther development of that particular espionage.

      • True, but both are acting on the premise of some notion of ‘public interest’, and one might question whether they deserve or ought to be custodians of that role. The sad fact is that the aggressive approach of the US has done more to foster than rebuke by Wikileaks. It is hard for govt to disclose everything if the implication is one rewards one’s enemies; notwithstanding the fact that US tends to create enemies. Its sad that the left media are destined to be the ‘measure’ of Wikiweaks efficacy. It is not an ideal foundation for consequences, however neither is representative democracy.
        We are really speculating about the type of spying they are doing. What is wrong with it? Whilst the constitution might be a standard of legal legitimacy, there are reasons to believe it is not a good standard….if only because its easily circumvented by doing things offshore. i.e. Spying on Japan from within Japan rather than the US. Or maybe even Australia or the Philippines.

      • tisho

        But as far as i know, Wikileaks has never disclosed any information that could reward one’s enemies. They only disclose information they determine to be against the public and against the constitution. The US government was accusing Wikileaks of putting American lives in danger for disclosing secret information that could get in the hands on the enemy, but they never made clear which information exactly was posing any threat to the American public. I watched some interviews with Julian Assange, he said multiple times that Wikileaks would never and has never disclosed any information that could be useful to one’s enemies or endanger the public in anyway, but rather they want to disclose only information that clearly violates the constitution and acts against public interests. For example, disclosing the info. that US solders were killing innocent people, and harassing ordinary people or captured civilians etc. this info. showed how the US violates human right accords and is not in anyway endangering the US or any Americans. Snowden also disclosed info. that shows that the US violates the constitution and is acting against public interests, he did not disclosed any info. that puts the US or Americans in danger. Also, government espionage is not always related to public interests, it is often related to corporate and military secrets. A big company would pay a lot of money to know what their competitors are up to, and the pentagon would also want to know what other governments are doing, all that has little to do with protecting the public, rather it serve individual agendas.

      • I think it is careful, and it has a reputation to protect, and it will I like attempt to protect it, but it is vulnerable to error, and this disclosure might be ‘a first’, even if not a damning indictment. What’s wrong with the US spying on Japan – from a moral standpoint?
        I think this info rewards Japan – not exactly an ‘enemy’, but a counterpart with counter-interests. The disclosure ignores the sensitivity of these issues. It takes a dogmatic view that voters have a right to know. But this is nonsense, and that is true of commercial interests as well as political interests.

  • GBR48

    Ike Knight is right. Everyone spies on everyone else as far as technology, funds and opportunity permits. It’s just bad form to get caught, and makes for a few awkward meetings. Nobody likes getting caught with their pants down.

    Although the behaviour of most regimes can easily be guessed, it is useful, say for the TPP negotiations, as the US can find out how far, and where they can push, to squeeze the most out of the Japanese government. It also helps to know what the BoJ are going to do, before they do it, in terms of the financial markets. Governments do have very close associations with their chums in large corporates, and information has a commodity value if you need someone to do something for you.

    For Japan, USG espionage on behalf of US multinationals would be a problem. Tokyo would want companies like Sony to have secure IT so that their next gen tech doesn’t get pinched.

    There’s also the issue of trust, or rather lack of it: The USG would have wanted to know what the Japanese govt. knew about Fukushima, as they learned it, not what they were officially told, or what was publicly released.

    Seeing behind the curtain is particularly useful for negotiating the diplomatic nightmare of dealing with South Korea, China and Japan. The more you know, the better your position.

    The Chinese are very good at rifling US secrets over the net, although they don’t always need to. So many Western companies have handed their tech to China to manufacture at low cost, that they can reverse engineer it at their leisure.

    • zer0_0zor0

      The stealing of information that “has a commodity value” undermines the free market and is called industrial espionage in the modern world; it’s not acceptable.

      Like I said, there’s spying, and then there’s spying…

      • GBR48

        Two areas that governments specialise in: undermining the free market and unacceptable behaviour.

      • zer0_0zor0

        I’m not sure if your being cynical or libertarian regarding the ‘free market’, but the free-market has to be regulated so as to be maintained in the state of “free”, as in open for competition. So we the people need our government so that we can establish the proper regulatory regime for the government. When the Executive Branch of the government is working to undermine that regulatory regime in order to benefit connected cronies, etc., the public needs to know about that.

      • GBR48

        Cynical. I’m in favour of regulation and fair trade. Most governments abuse the regulatory process one way or another, and the TPP is a good example of this abuse.

      • You have just made an argument for no monopoly on govt. Anarcho-capitalism. The only question: which people at whose expense?

  • Paul Martin

    They need spying on with their new secrecy laws and devious agendas. They want their cake and eat it too. They have NO natural resources.

    Japan needs American protection or they are doomed and without Westerners buying their cars,etc and tourism they are done !