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Is U.S. also spying on Japanese email, phone calls?

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Is the American government reading Japan’s email?

It seems to be reading everyone else’s. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the highest-profile known victim of America’s presumption of entitlement, in the name of security, to have access to every word, spoken or written, transmitted electronically by or to anyone anywhere on the planet.

Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor whose leaks earlier this year revealed the astonishing scope of the penetration of American antennae into – potentially – your daily communications and mine, is a hero or traitor, depending on your point of view. Either way, he has altered our consciousness. You can’t help wondering, every time you make a phone call or send an email, if it’s really just between you and your interlocutor.

U.S. allies are united in expressions of outrage. Spying is necessary and universal – but by friends on friends? A sense of betrayal ran higher and higher as fresh revelations kept surfacing, naming new targets. But what about Japan? Its name has been conspicuously absent so far from the ongoing commotion. Is the U.S. spying on its best friend in Asia?

The consensus among experts canvassed by Weekly Playboy (Nov 18) is: probably.

There’s no evidence of it so far, but experts draw their inferences from what the Snowden leaks have made clear about the seemingly limitless American appetite and capacity for information interception. Japan would seem too important an ally to be of no interest. “It likely goes on as a matter of course,” the magazine hears from journalist Tetsuya Ozeki, a former Washington bureau chief for Jiji Press.

Other factors aside, Ozeki says, “Japanese counter-espionage is decidedly under-developed both technologically and legally.” In other words: there wouldn’t be much Japan could do about it.

Takashi Fukuyama, a former Self-Defense Forces officer, says, “Japan is derisively known abroad as ‘spy heaven.’ Foreign spies know they can get away with pretty much anything here.”

Japan’s own intelligence capacities seem surprisingly weak. An organization loosely referred to as “the Japanese CIA” does exist – its official name translates as Cabinet, Prime Minister and Secretariat Investigation Bureau – but its permanent staff is numbered at 170, compared to some 30,000 at the NSA. An indication of what this could mean in practical terms is the rumor – not fact – crediting the discovery of the visit to Disneyland in 2001 by the eldest son of then-North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il to the NSA rather than to Japan’s espionage establishment.

So Japan is not interested in spying – right? Wrong. But Japan’s most active spies are not spies in the usual sense of the word; they are the police, Weekly Playboy fears.

“Justice Ministry statistics reported in the Diet show the number of applications of the Communications Monitoring Law has risen steadily,” lawyer Yuichi Kaido tells the magazine. In 2000 and 2001 there were no wiretap applications; in 2010, 34; in 2011, 27.

The police must apply to the courts for permission to monitor communications – a limited safeguard at best, says Kaido, given that the courts approve, literally, 100% of all such applications. “The courts have never,” he says, “turned down an application.” Furthermore, he adds, 91% of wiretaps conducted in 2011 did not result in criminal convictions. Whether that means the wiretapping is merely frivolous is left to the reader’s imagination.

In any event, concludes Weekly Playboy, between the NSA and Japan’s own police, it’s hard to take for granted that our communications are as private as we would like them to be.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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On 7 May 1946, after the end of World War II, Masaru Ibuka started a radio repair shop in a bomb-damaged Shirokiya department store building in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. The next year, he was joined by his colleague, Akio Morita, and they founded a company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation). The company built Japan's first tape recorder, called the Type-G. In the early 1950s, Ibuka traveled in the United States and heard about Bell Labs' invention of the transistor He convinced Bell to license the transistor technology to his Japanese company. While most American companies were researching the transistor for its military applications, Ibuka and Morita looked to apply it to communications. Although the American companies Regency Electronics and Texas Instruments built the first transistor radio as joint venture, it was Ibuka's company that made them commercially successful for the first time. ,,,,,,,,,,,, The first Japanese tape, then. type- G Sorry. BTW, you have to know encryption system before you can decryot, /data are still saved in 8bit and 16 bit for one character in alphabet and numerics.. Japanese letters are usually saved in graphic. One characters, easy way is 8 by 8 bit (64 ) bits for katakana and hirakana. Kanji?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Really, you have to ask? I'm sure the NSA is poking at everybody. Maybe not as much as the Europeans because Japan isn't much of a base for terrorist activity, but you type the key words in or visit the right web sites and you're on the list, even in Kanji....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is in he midst of creating their own version of the NSA right now. Not that they don't have intelligence capabilties today but it seems to be a deliberate step to integrate it with their allies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Amazing... the events of 9/11 is what mainly led to a massive increase by the NSA. Not the USA still holding a grudge against Japan. The idea that the Japanese language is too difficult to monitor is beyond ignorant. Too many people gauge the capabilities of others based upon their own.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@toshiko

When Sony invented Tape Recorder,

The tape recorder, like the CD and the cassette recorder, was not invented in Japan as many Japanese seem to think. Magnetic recording was invented by the American Alexander Graham Bell nearly 150 years ago, when Japan was still a rural economy. Modern magnetic tape and tape recorders were invented by BASF and AEF, German companies, in the 1930s.

UK and USA hardly had people who can understand Japanese language.

How can you believe such rubbish, toshiko?

@ossan, toshiko

Computers were not used in WWII for encryption/decryption.

The British created the word's first programmable digital electronic computer during WW2 to aid decryption.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I can only laugh thinking about what they know about me and the pages I (low)brow(se) :8)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Spying is universal (if you have a competent intelligence apparatus). From an intelligence point of view, if you're not part of the five eyes, you're not a friend. So the accusation of "friend-on-friend" is ridiculous.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You can bet 100% the US government is spying on Japan's Monarchy, Government and ALL it's people. The US government never got over WWII.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Forget about war against terrorism, the NSA is mostly doing economical and industrial spying, i.e. high scale state-managed spying. Then they ask for free trade when convenient. What a joke!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When Sony invented Tape Recorder, it hit big and Sony became very profitable. It was before personal computer era. So, snooping with tape recorders was mean of spying before everybody began to use personal computers. During WW II, Japanese NHK had propaganda English broadcast. After the war was over, GHQ asked who is Tokyo Rose. She was just a puppet announcer but after she said she is Tokyo Rose and ttreated like a spy. Spy now is all different. My guess is that Japan spy /more than USA because it can spy China and Korea. Maybe that is why it is quiet while Germany raises hell.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wiretapping is expected from world's biggest spy and military country. I now realized that espionage is common and evil connected people get info to use it as inside trading etc. to have the edge in stock and trade negotiation etc. I guess even back in ww2 usa was expert and all radio transmission of japan etc. was deciphered.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Toshiko, thank you for the walk down memory lane. I too recall being in panic because someone walked over my "paper tape", the cutting edge of data a storage at the time, and effecting repairs lining up the holes and using scotch tape. However none of this really has much to do with the subject because in today's world, no language is immune from intelligence gathering.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ossan: You are right. There was no computers during WWII yet. IBM 360 was imported to Japan about 1960 to mega corporations. Telephone> MoshiMoshi 29-ban dozo. No Email or iphone during WW II. That is why UJ and USA coukd not detect Pearl harbor and other Japanese attack. later, Canon created adding machine but girls used abacus in office. There were many Japanese studied in England and USA but UK and USA hardly had people who can understand Japanese language. Telephone? Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo began making diap phones to install to local government offices about 1955. Later, it changed name to Sony. Spying Japanese writings during WW II was not easy. Japanese usually write top to bottom from right side of page to left page. With Brush stroke, Inks were scarce, then. After War, ballpoint pen were imported. Pencils were used. I had to use step to change IBM tapes when a tape got full. But I liked IBM 360. At that time, BASIC and FORTRAN were used to program. No COBOL yet. We had to create own graphic and accounting software. Phones were not pushbutton yet. I doubt very much UK and USA did spying Japanese documents during WW II.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

toshikoNov. 14, 2013 - 03:26AM JST Ossan, but 70 years ago, there were only pre-IBM360 computers with 1000 k byte memory in huge tape drives.

I really am at a loss as to what you are talking about. Computers were not used in WWII for encryption/decryption.

"In 1937, the Japanese created the “97-shiki O-bun In-ji-ki” or “97 Alphabetical Typewriter,” named for its creation on the Japanese year 2597. This device was better known by its U.S. code-name, “Purple”. The Purple Machine was made up of two typewriters as well as an electrical rotor system with a 25 character alphabetic switchboard."

http://io9.com/how-the-u-s-cracked-japans-purple-encryption-machine-458385664

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ossan, but 70 years ago, there were only pre-IBM360 computers with 1000 k byte memory in huge tape drives. . Memory of current computers with Tera bytes can store Japanese comments but so far, they have to use graphic software to save Japanese language comments. /Then they have to have graphic character reader and translator. Usoji all over. After graphic characters are translated, to alphabetical graphics, have to be translated in English. That will usually skip usoji explanations, You can make your own graphic programs using C, etc, QB64, VB and encryption decryption pogram. Programmers ususally like to make manga gaming to make money than doing tedious encryption decryption software.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@toshiko

One of the reasons that the UK and USA was able to intercept and read Japanese communications so easily in WW2 was that the Japanese thought their language was too difficult for mere gaijin to learn, and thus did not require strong cryptography. The Allies were very grateful for this arrogance.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Probably not to understand Japanese requires something that the NSA doesn't have smart and competent people, who don't live in the land of Oz.

Wow. You are free to dislike the U.S.A if you see fit, but that is a ridiculous comment.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

HA! HA! HA! This is a joke right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You can bet that they will pass it on to anyone including the Chinese if it suites the US

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is the USA spying on Japan? Probably. Is every other developed country spying on its friends as well as enemies? Probably. The USA is better equipped to do it better. It over-stepped the mark with some of its activities, but it is somewhat shocking that Angela Merkel was not taking greater care against espionage.

The USA will have interests in knowing what Japan is up to - what is it thinking or doing about N Korea? What are the risks of a conflict developing with China? As it has a large number of troops stationed in Japan and Korea, it obviously takes a great interest in what these countries are up to. China is the main regional actor, off which hang most of the other regional problems and so I expect most off the focus will be China-related by extension.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Only if any of the employees of the NSA have trouble sleeping will they read Japanese emails.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

toshikoNov. 12, 2013 - 10:56PM JST It is difficult to spy Japanese documents

But we were doing it 70 years ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If you do not think that, even though Japanese is a difficult language, the USA is not at least monitoring communications in and out of Japan or any other country for that matter, then you are naïve.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As the leader of the free world Obama cannot lead the world from behind he if doesn't know where other countries what him to go.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Hmmm what bright person thought this was a good topic to ponder when the answer was obvious. Probably someone that went on a drinking binge.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Other way around and it's enduring freedom part 2.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

while you're unfortunately right with this statement, the sad truth is that while the US isn't a world leader any more in most areas, in this one it definitively is.

I hear you. Give it about another 3 years to get out of this mess to regain its footing again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not much one can say but Yes, of course. Bertie Woo et als anti-US diatribes are archived.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If its for economic reasons then it's not spying, it's subterfuge, right?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Probably not to understand Japanese requires something that the NSA doesn't have smart and competent people, who don't live in the land of Oz.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I certainly can agree that "America" is the not the country we once knew it was. As the article states no evidence has been found yet but I believe U.S is pretty much spying on every country they stepped into.

I guess this is why many countries have their sights locked on to America. Spying is not a good thing, it does not matter if your trying to catch a criminal or something. There is always another way to find that person rather then, phone tapping, reading emails, hacking into personal information etc, etc, etc.

America, if your reading this comment I don't give 2sts about that.**

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The US doesn't spy on Japan much because you have to ask yourself, WHAT is there to spy on? Due to the unique security alliance between Japan and the United States, there isn't much of what Japan does that the US doesn't already know it's going to do or will do anyway in terms of defense etc.

This message is being recording by the NSA btw: HI GUYS!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Of course the U.S. is spying on anything and everything that is transmitted from one place to another. They are keying in on certain words and searches. They're not going to out you on anything other than planning a terrorist attack. This is about numbers and data crunching. Only the items that come up with red flags are actually read by a human. The human then decides if it needs to be raised to the next level. It does not bother me in the least that they are watching.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It is difficult to spy Japanese documents. Are there Japanese word processors that check uso-jji? Often kanjis are used with guess in meanings. I is sometimes, watakushi, watash. boku ore ora depending on politeness. friendly, insulting, etc. If writing in hand, Japanese often miswrites in different strokes. Same goes with Chinese and Koreans,

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The police must apply to the courts for permission to monitor communications – a limited safeguard at best, says Kaido, given that the courts approve, literally, 100% of all such applications. “The courts have never,” he says, “turned down an application.”

The answer for this is very clear if the article was written correctly - “The courts never,” he says, “turned down either of the applications.” !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The world is behaving like a psychotic paranoid. NOW it's an accurate statement.

@bass4funk, while you're unfortunately right with this statement, the sad truth is that while the US isn't a world leader any more in most areas, in this one it definitively is.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

secrets with Internet? now you can pay one million and everyone will accept spying the neighbor or simply find a relationship with any member of people that you want to spy:) just using a mobile:)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

its my humble request to NSA and CIA please don't disclose my 2 girlfriends to my wife.

hahahahaha

2 ( +3 / -1 )

its my humble request to NSA and CIA please don't disclose my 2 girlfriends to my wife.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Just take a look at the radomes to the north of Misawa airbase in Tohoku, they are not giant golf balls or UFOs, but covers for sophisticated antenna. Been there for years, providing coverage over Asia...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Graham, the pet should never bit the master.

-7 ( +0 / -6 )

YES.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

IMPOSSIBURU!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Of course the NSA spys on Japan. I make it a point to say "Hi" to the digital recorder (no person listens in unless there is something worth hearing. There aren't THAT many people available) at the beginning of every phone call home.

More to the point, the U.S. has a valid interest in checking up on others, even the Japanese to try to find out what the govt. mindset is and if it matches what they are telling the public, if the govt. policies are actually being followed, etc. This is what all govt.s do. All-in-all, Japan's reaction has been the most pragmatic and logical.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

NHK English video had a story about 5 days ago that the US is spying on Japan not only for political information but for "economic advantage". You can watch it at the NHK international site. So the answer is YES, the US is spying on Japan. From NHK itself, not less.

7 ( +7 / -1 )

just add a few keywords like bomb, terrorist, jihad etc to you emails and its guaranteed itll be tracked.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

By definition, because the Internet is supposedly an "open" means of communication, anyone with enough computing power (and the right access to the Internet backbone) can eavesdrop on almost anything sent over much of the Internet. Why do you think China built up several supercomputing centers, and it's likely the Russians have done the same?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nessie: the "anti-social force" is doing business out in the open and even get bank loans. The wiretaps in Japan are probably relayed to Japanese problems like North-Korea, China and Aleph style groups.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Weekly Playboy...

Exactly the first source of journalism I go to for on thought proving commentary of international politics.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is not the America we knew and loved.

Wait Bertie are you telling everyone here that you actually loved America at one point?

I was equally as shocked to hear that. But my question is: Who is "WE?"

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

A definite consequence from WW2, in that Japan just doesn't have the proficiency or experience anymore in developing an effective intelligence infrastructure. The same goes for Germany as well; it's common knowledge that Germany hasn't had any sort of organized foreign policy since the end of the war.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Every country spies on its enemies as well as its allies. The U.S. just does it better than the others.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Sounds like Japan doesn't want to be left out of the NSA spying scandal. "Hey, how come we're not being spied on? What's wrong with us?" Whine, whine.

Besides, it was a rhetorical question. The CIA has been spying on everyone since it was the OSS.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

BertieWooster, "behaving like" is not necessary in your post.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@bertie

The U.S.A. is behaving like a psychotic paranoid.

Jumping at pins, suspecting everybody.

This is not the America we knew and loved.

America, "You've strayed too far from the shore."

Bertie, don't forget to mention the rest of the world or should I say it for you?

The world is behaving like a psychotic paranoid. NOW it's an accurate statement.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

This is not the America we knew and loved.

Wait Bertie are you telling everyone here that you actually loved America at one point?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Given the number of mafia groups, the number of wiretaps should be higher.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The U.S.A. is behaving like a psychotic paranoid.

Jumping at pins, suspecting everybody.

This is not the America we knew and loved.

America, "You've strayed too far from the shore."

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Yes, they are reading it, and you should feel a little embarrassed if your messages aren't interesting enough to keep the readers awake. Try to spice it up a little, will you?

5 ( +4 / -0 )

Of course it's happening, and just limited by the number of Japanese speakers available to the NSA.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Oh Wow, I never thought of that! LOL. I saw the NSA server farms in the early 90's, I can only imagine what they are like now. This all got big with the advent of the phone and will only get bigger as people continue to be open under their false feeling of security when using personal electronics.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Rhetorical question, right?

13 ( +13 / -0 )

To even write this article is a complete crackup.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

That's a given!!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

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