WikiLeaks says US spied on Japanese government officials discussing trade, climate policies

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The WikiLeaks website published documents Friday that it said shows the U.S. government spied on Japanese officials and companies.

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The documents include what appear to be five U.S. National Security Agency reports, four of which are marked top-secret, that provide intelligence on Japanese positions on international trade and climate change. They date from 2007 to 2009.

WikiLeaks also posted what it says is an NSA list of 35 Japanese targets for telephone intercepts including the Japanese Cabinet office, Bank of Japan officials, Finance and Trade Ministry numbers, the natural gas division at Mitsubishi and the petroleum division at Mitsui.

The validity of the documents could not be independently verified, though WikiLeaks has released U.S. government documents many times in the past.

Japanese Foreign Ministry press secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura said Japan and the United States are in communication about the issue of NSA "information collection" but declined to provide details. He added that "Japan will continue to employ all the necessary measures to protect (its) information."

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said it was aware of the report but wouldn't say anything further. Mitsui also declined comment, and Mitsubishi did not return a call.

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Three of the apparent NSA reports deal with climate change, and the other two with agricultural trade issues, including U.S. cherry exports to Japan.

A notation on one of the top-secret reports on climate change before the 2008 G-8 summit is marked for sharing with Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand, according to WikiLeaks. It's not clear if it was actually shared.

WikiLeaks has released similar documents in recent weeks that it said show NSA spying on Germany, France and Brazil.

U.S. spying on its allies became an issue in 2013, when Germany's government reacted angrily to German media reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone had been monitored by the NSA. Although the reports didn't explicitly cite documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, they came amid a flurry of similar claims about alleged U.S. surveillance in Germany that were linked to him.

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AP writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that German media, not WikiLeaks, reported that the NSA had been monitoring Merkel's phone, and that the media never identified the source of the alleged NSA documents.