Abe asks Obama to investigate alleged U.S. spying


TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked U.S. President Barack Obama on Aug. 26 to investigate alleged spying on high-level Japanese government and corporate officials, after anti-secrecy Website WikiLeaks disclosed last month a list of Japanese targets by a U.S. eavesdropping agency.

During their 40-minute telephone conversation, held at the request of Washington, Obama apologized to Abe and the Japanese government over the suspected eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, the government said.

At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga quoted Abe as telling Obama that if the spying allegations are “true, it could shake the relationship of trust between alliance partners,” and that he has “no choice but to express our grave concern.”

Abe asked Obama that Washington look into the matter and report its findings to Tokyo, the top government spokesman said.

Obama said the United States is taking appropriate actions based on a presidential directive in 2014 on collection of intelligence and that the United States currently does not take any action that would hurt trust between their countries, according to Suga.

Obama reassured Abe that U.S. intelligence collection “is focused on national security interests and is as narrowly tailored as possible,” the White House said in a statement.

In a speech that accompanied the directive issued in January 2014, Obama promised that the United States will not monitor the communications of the head of state and government of “our close friends and allies” without a “compelling national security purpose.”

WikiLeaks posted what it says are U.S. National Security Agency reports and a list of 35 Japanese targets for telephone intercepts, including the Japanese Cabinet Office, the Bank of Japan, the country’s finance and trade ministries, and major Japanese trading companies.

Suga did not say whether Obama admitted to U.S. spying.

Earlier last month, Abe made similar remarks regarding the matter during his telephone conversation with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

On other issues of mutual interest, Abe and Obama welcomed a recent agreement between North and South Korea to defuse heightened tensions, and reaffirmed their cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development, Suga said.

They also agreed to deal together with concerns facing the world economy including the current global market rout stemming from concerns over the health of China’s economy.

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