Obama apologises to Abe over WikiLeaks spying claims

US President Obama calls Japanese PM Abe to apologise after WikiLeaks publishes documents claiming NSA spied on Japanese government

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a joint press conference

US President Barack Obama apologised to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday over revelations from documents published on WikiLeaks that the US spied on Japanese government officials.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “President Obama said he was very sorry,” about the spying claims.

Suga said Abe responded to the US president by saying, “It could shake our relationship of trust,” if the spying allegations were true.

A White House press release outlining the conversation between Obama and Abe said the president “reassured the prime minister that our intelligence collection is focused on national security interests and is as narrowly tailored as possible.”

On July 31,  WikiLeaks published a list of documents titled “Target Tokyo,” including files claiming to show that the US National Intelligence Agency (NSA) targeted Japanese ministries and private companies.

“The list indicates that NSA spying on Japanese conglomerates, government officials, ministries and senior advisers extends back at least as far as the first administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which lasted from September 2006 until September 2007,” WikiLeaks said in its press release.

Japan and the US have been close allies since World War ll in both the military and economic spheres.

More recently they are the main players in trying to finalise a 12-country trade deal dubbed the Trans Pacific Partnership, which would create a free trade zone between countries which are responsible for about 40 percent of the World’s GDP.

It is not the first time that WikiLeaks has published documents appearing to show that the US has been spying on its allies.

The organisation also previously published files alleging that the NSA spied on major US allies such as Brazil, France and Germany, creating diplomatic problems between these countries and leading to apologies from the US administration.  

TRTWorld and agencies