Civilian engineers may be sent to battlefields

Defense Agency Director General Nakatani Gen stated that engineers of companies will be requested to work in the battlefields with the Self-Defense Forces in times of war.

This was in answer to Kodama Kenji (Japanese Communist Party) at a Lower House special committee meeting to discuss measures against terrorism on May 17.

Rising to question the government on behalf of the JCP, Kodama revealed an internal document of the Defense Agency stating that companies might be asked to stand ready to repair Maritime Self-Defense Force ships operating in conflict zones. The document also showed that the Defense Agency is asking companies to list the names of workers to be sent for such missions and have those workers obtain passports.

Kodama said those who are employed by companies as engineers fear that they might be ordered to take "business trips" to battlefields. "Civilians should not be mobilized for such missions," he said.

The internal document had been obtained by the JCP daily Akahata.

At the Defense Agency's request, Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries has provided the agency with a list of 19 employees to be mobilized for repairs of helicopters and 20mm guns, the document says.

Nakatani admitted that the document was made on November 11, 2001 by the Defense Agency to request 20 related companies for their cooperation.

The SDF needs help from civilian engineers in repairing high-tech weapons. Akahata of May 18 said that the government may seek new legislation to allow civilian engineers to be sent to conflict zones as part of the wartime legislation which is now being debated in the Diet. (end)