You can probably file this one away in your “well, this doesn’t come as a big surprise” folder: the US has been spying on Japan for several years.
Last Friday, anti-secrecy group Wikileaks released a list of a few dozen numbers in Japan that were targeted for surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). According to the released data, which is accompanied by five cables, the NSA has been conducting a prolonged program, which dates back to at least as far back as the first Abe administration in 2006–07. The list of targets reveals that several different sectors of Japanese government and business were being listened to: numbers listed in the report ranged from the switchboard for the Japanese Cabinet Office and the executive secretary to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to officials within the Japanese Central Bank and numbers within the Natural Gas Division at Mitsubishi and the Petroleum Division of Mitsui.
Meanwhile, the five cables discuss everything from Prime Minister Abe’s intentions to announce a carbon emissions plan without giving advance notice to the U.S. in 2006 to the concern of Japanese agriculture ministers that stemmed from a delay in importing U.S.-grown cherries. (Personally, we’re still waiting to find out what’s going on with the butter…) Four of the cables were classified as “Top Secret,” while one was designated for distribution among the “Five Eyes” intelligence partnership of the U.S., Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.
According to Sputnik News, former NSA “target” Suga said “If that [interception] is true, it is extremely regrettable for the allied countries.” The Chief Cabinet Secretary went on to say that Japan is waiting to hear a clarification from the United States regarding the communications intercepts.
Japan has now joined the club of U.S. allies—including Brazil, France, and Germany—that have also been targets for espionage.