WikiLeaks published documents that make it look a lot like the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on Japan and the Japanese government.
WikiLeaks, a thorn in the side of governments and regimes, and an early adopter of AirBnB-like services in extremis, has official documents and details about the situation and has released them in a package called Target Tokyo.
The documents show information about the targeting of 35 subjects and the news that pickled persons from outfits including the Japanese cabinet and companies like Mitsubishi have been watched and listened to.
Information relating to trade deals, political relations and climate change strategies are hot topics. The NSA has tried to limit its exposure to this kind of bad chat.
“In these documents we see the Japanese government worrying in private about how much or how little to tell the US in order to prevent undermining of its climate change proposal or its diplomatic relationship,” said Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
“And yet we now know that the US heard everything and read everything, and was passing around the deliberations of Japanese leadership to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
“The lesson for Japan is this: do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honour or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules.”
WikiLeaks said that the surveillance dates back to at least 2006, and included a study into prime minister Shinzo Abe and his administration.
Other hotlines sent up by the NSA are said to include hooks into Mitsubishi’s natural gas division, and at least one home phone number for a high ranking banker.
Phone numbers for various ministries, including the cabinet office, may have been tapped and callers may have heard some unexpected clicking on the line.
WikiLeaks said there are clues that the information was shared between the Five Eyes group, a government hearing post hydra that includes Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand, and that the information gathered and processed gave an “intimate” look into the workings of the Japanese government and its position in the world.
“Today’s publication shows us that the US government targeted sensitive Japanese industry and climate change policy. Would the effectiveness of Japan’s industry and climate change proposals be different today if its communications had been protected?” asked WikiLeaks investigations editor Sarah Harrison.
“Japan has been a close historical ally of the US since the end of World War II. During a recent presidential visit to Japan, Barack Obama described the east Asian country as ‘one of America’s closest allies in the world’.”
We have asked the NSA for its response, but then it probably knew that already.