The Kyodo news agency says the US National Security Agency reached out to the Japanese government in around 2011 for help wiretapping fiber-optic cables carrying phone and Internet data across the Asia-Pacific region.
Sources familiar with the matter say the NSA move was apparently aimed at gathering information on China. Most of China’s international cables connecting it with other parts of the region go through Japan. But Tokyo reportedly rejected the request, citing legal restrictions and a shortage of personnel.
British newspaper The Guardian reported that the British spy agency tapped into trans-atlantic fiber-optic cables, and shared the collected information with US from 2011, which is around the same time as the US’s request to Japan.