Obama calls Japanese leader over spying concerns

Obama calls Japanese leader over spying concerns

President Obama phoned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe late on Tuesday to express his regret over new reports of U.S. spying on Japan.

Obama “reassured the prime minister that our intelligence collection is focused on national security interests and is as narrowly tailored as possible,” the White House said on Wednesday morning.

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According to a Japanese government official, the president apologized for “causing trouble” with WikiLeaks’s release of documents showing that American spies had monitored Japanese officials, The Japan Times reported. 

The 40-minute phone call came after WikiLeaks’s release of National Security Agency (NSA) documents that roiled Japanese politics.

The messages, released in July, appear to show that U.S. officials had secretly monitored its closest Asian ally from 2007 to 2009.

Among other disclosures, the leaked documents indicate that American intelligence agents targeted multiple government officials as well as the Japanese central bank and some top energy companies. Intelligence officials picked up discussions about carbon emissions negotiations and trade talks, the leaked documents indicated.

According to the Associated Press, Abe warned Obama that the spying reports could undermine trust between the U.S. and Japan, and urged the U.S. to investigate the documents.

Obama agreed to continue “discussions” on the matter, the Japanese government said. 

The discussion appeared to largely mirror Vice President Biden’s conversation with Abe earlier this August, during which he "underscored our strong commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance."

In addition to the alleged NSA spying, Obama also “commended” Abe on Tuesday for his show of remorse this month on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The two leaders also “reaffirmed their commitment to work together” to finalize a trade agreement among Pacific Rim countries, as well as focus on fighting climate change.