Japan Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera says reports of the US spying on Tokyo, if proved to be true, could hurt the ties between the two countries.
Onodera made the remarks two days after The New York Times reported that US National Security Agency (NSA) has spied on Japan, adding that the NSA had used its surveillance powers to achieve economic advantage on Japan, Brazil and a number of other nations.
On Tuesday, Onodera voiced serious concern about reports stating that the US has been collecting important data in Japan through illegal interception.
“So far these are only press reports,” the minister told journalists in Tokyo, adding, “But I do not think such actions are desirable as they are eroding trust between friendly states, including allies.”
Earlier, an unnamed US source confirmed that electronic espionage in Japan had been conducted through the American Embassy premises in Tokyo and US military bases in Japan.
The NSA was also said to have been bugging the Japanese Embassy in Washington.
Japan says it does not have any specific agency to defend the country over cyber attacks, but is seeking to add cyberspace to the realm of its national defense.
The development comes days after the Sydney Morning Herald published a report about the US surveillance activities in the Asia-Pacific region. It said that Australian diplomatic missions have helped the US to monitor phone calls and other communications in Asia.
The intelligence activities took place in several Australian Embassies located in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.
Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about NSA espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
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