Spying on Japan is hardly in New Zealand’s interests


New Zealand’s reputation in Japan has been damaged by revelations that our GCSB has been spying on its government communications. “New Zealand spied on Japan to help US at 2007 whaling confab” read the 26 April headline in the Japan Times.

The evidence for this spying came from NSA documents in the Snowden papers, published by The Intercept. They disclose that every morning during a 2007 whaling conference (held in Alaska) the GCSB would provide a paper on Japan’s pro-whaling lobbying efforts. Information for this briefing had been gathered by intercepting communications between Japanese officials.

“New Zealand had the target access, and collected and provided insightful SIGINT that laid out the lobbying efforts of the Japanese and the response of countries whose votes were so coveted,” report an NSA document.

According to the NSA, the American, Australian and New Zealand delegates came together each morning to read the material. “We knew the delegates valued the material simply because they took time from their very hectic schedules to be there and read it.”

In the short term the spying might have helped the anti-whaling cause, but in the longer term it was disastrous.

Firstly, most of the Five Eyes spying on Japanese diplomats would have been for more reactionary purposes. America has been pushing for Japan to be more engaged in its military adventures in the Middle East.

Secondly, the ends do not justify the means. Spying on the diplomatic communications of a friendly government is a gross invasion of privacy, and contrary to the Vienna protocols which govern diplomatic relations.

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Thirdly, this new evidence of GCSB spying has naturally angered ordinary Japanese people. It is an attack on their democracy. It will make Japanese people more critical of New Zealand both for spying on them and for acting as a spy for America.

Unfortunately, this GCSB spying on Japan is not new. When he wrote his 1996 book, Secret Power, Nicky Hager was surprised that so much of the GCSB’s then resources were devoted to Japan. Not only was the Waihopai spy base used to monitor Japan’s international communications. The GCSB also had a role within the Five Eyes, to process Japanese material coming from the other Five Eyes partners.

For many years our tax dollars have been misused to spy on Japan’s diplomatic communications. It is abhorrent and not in our best interests. It is another reason why we should withdraw from the Five Eyes network.


  1. We agree with this Keith, as we shouldn’t be spying on friendly nations at all and since we are a small country of small significance perhaps we should withdraw from the five eyes altogether as we are not at war (or planning to be) are we????

    It seems that this corrupt Junta is prepared to do dirty work for anyone today.

  2. Yes, indeed, I was asking myself, what was that about? Spying on the Japanese for their whaling intentions and pro whaling lobbying? We do constantly get told that we need the GCSB and SIS to protect the nation from “threats” like terrorism, organised crime, war and industrial espionage.

    Has whaling anything to do with that?

    It was well known what the Japanese government and whaling operators and lobbyists thought and would try to do, so spying on them would only have confirmed what was widely known.

    This proves again that we get told endless BS by our government, they want wider authority and capability to spy on all of us, so they know what even ordinary activists and bloggers are up to, pursuing their peaceful democratic rights.

    That is the truth of the matter, there is only a very low danger from terrorism in this country, it exists, but is hardly stuff to justify the widening of spy laws and capacity.

    So stuff them, I wish more out there would wake up, as it seems only readers on TDB and a few other blogs have a clue what this is all about.

  3. You were told this years go, Keith.

    Why does everything have to come out of Snowden’s mouth? Find it very odd.

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