Obama says sorry to Ja­pan af­ter Wik­iLeaks claims of Amer­i­can spy­ing

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Wed­nes­day apol­o­gized to Tokyo af­ter Wik­iLeaks claimed Washington spied on Ja­panese politi­cians, a gov­ern­ment spokesman said Wed­nes­day.

Obama held a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe Wed­nes­day morn­ing, spokesman Yoshi­hide Suga said, adding that the pair agreed to work to­gether on global eco­nomic is­sues in the wake of a stock mar­ket melt­down sparked by fears over main­land China.

“Pres­i­dent Obama said he was very sorry ... as the case caused a big de­bate in Ja­pan,” Suga told a reg­u­lar news con­fer­ence, with­out con­firm­ing the spy­ing claims.

He added that Abe re­it­er­ated his “se­ri­ous con­cern” over the case.

“Prime Min­is­ter Abe told (Obama) that, if the Ja­panese peo­ple con­cerned were sub­ject to these ac­tiv­i­ties, it would risk jeop­ar­diz­ing trust­ing re­la­tions be­tween al­lies,” Suga said.

In an ear­lier con­ver­sa­tion with U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, Abe voiced sim­i­lar con­cerns if the spy­ing claims were con­firmed.

Last month, Wik­iLeaks said

it had in­ter­cepts re­veal­ing years-long es­pi­onage by the U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency (NSA) on Ja­panese of­fi­cials and ma­jor com­pa­nies.

Tokyo’s re­sponse has been widely seen as muted com­pared to the anger ex­pressed in France and Ger­many fol­low­ing sim­i­lar NSA spy­ing al­le­ga­tions.

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

Un­like Ger­man chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and French pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, Abe did not ap­pear to be a di­rect tar­get of wire­tap­ping — but other se­nior politi­cians were, ac­cord­ing to Wik­iLeaks, in­clud­ing Trade Min­is­ter Yoichi Miyazawa.

Obama and Abe also dis­cussed mar­ket tur­moil that has seen a mas­sive global eq­ui­ties sell off af­ter China cut the value of its yuan cur­rency in an ap­par­ent bid to boost ex­ports, spark­ing fears of an eco­nomic slow­down and the sub­se­quent im­pact on global growth.

“(Abe and Obama) will firmly work to­gether on the econ­omy is­sue,” Suga said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

He added that Obama re­peated Washington’s sup­port for Abe’s speech on the eve of the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of WWII in which he ex­pressed re­gret but also said fu­ture gen­er­a­tions need not apol­o­gize for Ja­pan’s war record.

“The pres­i­dent said he wel­comed ( Abe’s re­marks) as a whole,” Suga said, re­fer­ring to the speech ear­lier this month.

Al­lies in­clud­ing the United States and Bri­tain sup­ported Abe’s state­ment, but China and South Korea said he failed to prop­erly apol­o­gize for Tokyo’s war time ag­gres­sion.

Ja­pan’s neigh­bors suf­fered badly from its im­pe­rial march across Asia in the first part of the 20th cen­tury.

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