Defense Agency has collected personal information of people who requested information

Akahata of May 29 reported that the Defense Agency has collected personal information about individuals who have requested records from the agency, and even listed those data, including organizations they belong to and ideology they have.

Although people who request government records are only asked to write their names, addresses, and telephone numbers, the agency also collected personal data, including medical histories, occupation, and ideological orientation.

Collecting private information by government authorities rouses another concern that wartime bills and privacy protection bills may be used to violate people's fundamental human rights.

A 48-year-old Defense Agency officer reportedly compiled personal data of 142 people who requested records from the agency between August 2000 and March 2002 and turned them over to his seven superiors. The Defense Agency Secretariat's director denied the agency's systematic involvement.

Ishikawa Iwao, a military analyst, said he can hardly believe that just one Defense Agency officer did this without being instructed by superior officers, because the Defense Agency has intelligence gathering sections.

Hasegawa Junichi, a peace activist and former Japanese Communist Party local assembly member who requested records from the agency, said, "The agency has been watching what I'm doing after I left the assembly. Anyone who asks for records from government authorities may be regarded as 'unpatriotic.' The present incident has shown that the wartime bills are very likely to violate freedom of conscience, including pacifism."

Miki Yukiko, an NPO member who is invled in the information disclosure movement, said people will hesitate requesting government records if such investigations by authorities go unchallenged. "The privacy protection bills submitted to the current Diet session will not thwart illegal intelligence activities by authorities, and I don't see any relevance in the government's response to privacy protection," She added.