According to documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday 9am CEST (8am GMT), the United States has spied on Japanese officials and companies.
The documents - called “Target Tokyo” by WikiLeaks - list 35 top secret targets of the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Japan, and WikiLeaks says that these include “the Japanese cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi.”
The documents released also include “intercepts relating to US-Japan relations, trade negotiations and sensitive climate change strategy.”
In a statement accompanying the release, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said “The lesson for Japan is this: do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor and respect.”
NSA spying on Japan goes back at least as far as the first administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which WikiLeaks says lasted from September 2006 until September 2007.
WikiLeaks says the NSA intercepted the telephones of the Japanese Cabinet Office, the executive secretary to the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, as well as numerous officials within the Japanese Central Bank and Japanese Finance Ministry.
The target list also includes companies in the private sector, such as the Natural Gas Division of Mitsubishi and the Petroleum Division of Mitsui.
WikiLeaks revealed four reports based on the intercepts and classified as “top secret” by the NSA, one of which is authorised for release to United States’ intelligence partners Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand.
The press release notes “the depth of US surveillance of the Japanese government,” with WikiLeaks Investigations Editor Sarah Harrison asking “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?”
Japan was described as “one of America’s closest allies in the world” by US President Obama during a recent visit to Japan, although the WikiLeaks documents will most likely strain the relationship between the two countries.
WikiLeaks has previously released documents implicating the NSA in spying on the governments of Brazil, France, and Germany.