NSA conducted commercial espionage against Japanese government and businesses

New leaked documents published by Wikileaks show that the US spy agency conducted surveillance operations against Japan's top government officials, prioritizing finance and trade ministers, as well as the Japanese central bank and two private-sector energy companies.

There's no conceivable connection between this long-term surveillance — which included wiretaps — and national security.

Wikileaks timed the release to coincide with last weekend's round of Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations; TPP is a top-secret trade deal being negotiated between the USA, Japan and ten other Pacific rim nations. The negotiations went badly.

One of the reports, from 2009, purports to show that the NSA intercepted talking points drafted for the agriculture minister to present at World Trade Organization negotiations with the U.S. trade representative.

"The minister could also address the need to ensure that the results of the WTO agriculture negotiations do not curtail agriculture in the member countries, and Japan's anticipation of an early appointment by the USTR of a chief agricultural negotiator," the report says. Fisheries subsidies, and tariffs on forestry and fishery products, might also come up, it said.

Other parts of the leak deal with climate-change negotiations and a feud between the United States and Japan over cherries, but the trade component will probably be most controversial.

Japan has an entrenched agriculture lobby, and farm products have been one of the most difficult parts of the TPP negotiations between the United States and Japan, by far the two biggest economies in the proposed 12-nation pact.

Target Tokyo [Wikileaks]

WikiLeaks says U.S. spied on another ally – this time, Japan [Anna Fifield/Washington Post]