From Kyoto to Berlin and every disco I get in, the US are bugging the phones, bugging the phones

Obama recently called Japan ‘one of America’s closest allies in the world’. Well, unsurprisingly, the NSA (Earth’s giant invisible perv) has been bugging their buddy Japan, especially Obama and Abe’s tarnished date night plans.

A few weeks ago on Friday the 31st of July, WikiLeaks published the NSA’s Top Secret targets in Japan, and thus was born ‘Target Tokyo’. This list includes: ‘the Japanese cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, together with intercepts relating to US-Japan relations, trade negotiations and sensitive climate change strategy … numerous officials within the Japanese Central Bank … the home phone number of at least one Central Bank official; numerous numbers within the Japanese Finance Ministry; the Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa; the Natural Gas Division of Mitsubishi; and the Petroleum Division of Mitsui’.

This type of subterranean activity has been happening for quite some time, extending back ‘at least as far as the first administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which lasted from September 2006 until September 2007’.  If we spied on America like they do on everyone else, who knows how brutal they would be.

The US Embassy in Tokyo refused to comment as they ‘don’t want to give any credence to these allegedly classified documents that have been released by WikiLeaks’. Well, since the culprits won’t have a chat, the depth of the NSA’s delving is quite remarkable, revealing the ‘intimate knowledge’ held of ‘agricultural imports and trade disputes; negotiating positions … Japanese technical development plans, climate change policy, nuclear and energy policy and carbon emissions schemes; correspondence with international bodies … strategy planning and draft talking points memoranda concerning the management of diplomatic relations with the United States and the European Union … and the content of a confidential Prime Ministerial briefing that took place at Shinzo Abe’s official residence’.

One report (which is labelled ‘TOP SECRET’) is being relayed to what is known as the US’ ‘Five Eyes’ Intelligence Partners; the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (the whiteness of that list is impressive). From the nature of the NSA’s targets, the USA seem to be keeping tabs on Japan’s climate change policy and, what WikiLeaks Investigations Editor Sarah Harrison labels to be, ‘sensitive’ industry.

A statement from Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief, said: ‘In these documents we see the Japanese government worrying in private about how much or how little to tell the United States, in order to prevent undermining of its climate change proposal or its diplomatic relationship. And yet we now know that the United States heard everything and read everything, and was passing around the deliberations of Japanese leadership to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The lesson for Japan is this: do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honour or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules’.

Since America’s post-WW2 occupation of Japan, where American culture was merged into Japanese life and ideas (e.g., anime resembling comic books), America has kept a watchful eye on its (once) misbehaving protégé. Though the US eventually gave up most of its territory in Japan, it really is not surprising that America keeps tabs on a country in which it once had such high quantities of personnel, money and resources. But the motivation of tapping the likes of Japan and Germany in today’s climate brings to light another point; is the US still sure of its position as The World’s Greatest?

Tapping Merkel’s and Abe’s phones shows deep-set insecurity from the US. ‘Target Tokyo’ now sits alongside ‘Bugging Brazil’, ‘Espionnage Élysée’ and ‘The Euro Intercepts’ – ‘All The Chancellor’s Men’ in the trophy cabinet of NSA’s cheeky achievements. If America doesn’t trust its allies, what can it do? A century of being the boss could be creeping up on Uncle Sam in a world that, with Russia, China, Japan, Germany, India and the Middle East (in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE), has multiple economic centres.

This also raises the question of whether or not the world would be at peace under one indisputable power, or under a collection of hubs. Sarah Harrison also asks whether ‘the effectiveness of Japan’s industry and climate change proposals be different today if its communications had been protected?’ Do we act different when we are watched? Most of us probably do, even if Slavoj Žižek claims that he does not care if ‘secret police’ watch him as it makes their work pointless. Would it be better if we just did not care if we were watched?

Earlier this year a member of IS uploaded a selfie and his location was flattened within 22 hours, whilst the other big scandal of the year has been the publication of Jennifer Lawrence’s flesh. Be it in the world of Islamic extremism or celebrity nudity, technology really is quite able to wreak havoc. Communal knowledge has come at a cost to privacy.

Now the NSA is a different ballgame because it is, by law, allowed to snoop on whoever it wants to. The agency is reported to intercept the communications of around one billion people; so one-seventh of the planet is on the NSA’s naughty list! Could you imagine dating the NSA? Phones bugged, accounts hacked, words watched; it would be the most insecure relationship conceivable. Psycho-ex NSA is a fascinating monolith of vigilance and the debate around whether or not the agency’s actions are ethical highlights just how seriously the US treats both perceived threats and, in this case, allies.

Incidentally, this bugging fiasco is being revealed around the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the way (if anything Japan should be bugging the States to check if they’ll get nuked again). Will America and Japan stay fairly close? I feel like they will. Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura claims ‘Japan will continue to employ all necessary measures to protect information’, because they’ve done a great job so far.

So what would it take these days for a country like Japan to split from the States? Maybe, just maybe, if America decides to get down with the Trumps.



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