Japan Says US Spying “Deeply Regrettable”

Japan Says US Spying “Deeply Regrettable”Japan Says US Spying “Deeply Regrettable”

Tokyo on Monday described claims that Washington spied on Japanese politicians and major firms as “deeply regrettable,” in its first official response to revelations from whistleblower group WikiLeaks.

“I will withhold comment. But If this is true, as an ally, it’s deeply regrettable,” the government’s top spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a regular press briefing Monday, World Bulletin reported.

Suga added that Tokyo was checking with the US on the WikiLeaks report, issued Friday.

The latest WikiLeaks intercepts exposing US National Security Agency activities follow other documents that revealed spying on allies including Germany and France, straining relations.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not appear to be a direct target of wiretapping but senior politicians were, including Trade Minister Yoichi Miyazawa. Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda was also in the sights of US intelligence, WikiLeaks said.

Japan is one of Washington’s key allies in the Asia-Pacific region and the two countries regularly consult on defense, economic and trade issues.

“We have strongly requested intelligence director Clapper confirm the facts,” Suga said, referring to National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

Claims that Washington spied on Japanese trade officials, among others, came just as delegates negotiating a vast free-trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership failed to reach a final deal after several days of intense talks in Hawaii.

The US and Japan are the two biggest economies in the 12-nation negotiations, but they have sparred over key issues including auto sector access and opening up Japan’s protected agricultural markets.