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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 26 - August 1  > Closing the curtain on SDF data cover-up scandal with DM’s resignation unacceptable
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2017 July 26 - August 1 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Closing the curtain on SDF data cover-up scandal with DM’s resignation unacceptable

July 29, 2017
Akahata editorial

Defense Minister Inada Tomomi on July 28 resigned from the Cabinet for the cover-up of PKO-related “daily reports” which the Ground Self-Defense Force had retained while insisting that they had already been discarded. However, investigation results the MoD Inspector General’s Office of legal compliance (IGO) released neglected to address the allegations of her involvement in the hiding of these reports written by GSDF peacekeepers in South Sudan. Contradictorily, the MoD inspector office recognizes the possibility that DM Inada was aware of these data being stored in the GSDF. It is highly likely that Inada herself is responsible for concealing the key documents. An attempt to close the curtain on this scandal with the resignation of Inada amounts to “concealment” of information.

Inada most likely involved in cover-up

The daily reports describe an armed conflict which broke out between government-backed troops and the rebels in July 2016 in the South Sudanese capital of Juba as a “battle”. This means that already at that time, the “five PKO principles”, including a “ceasefire agreement”, to allow the SDF’s overseas deployment collapsed.

New revelations regarding this matter recently came out. According to the IGO, the GSDF, in response to an outside request in July last year, intentionally withheld all the requested information, including electronic data which GSDF units in South Sudan sent to their superior organ of the Central Readiness Force Command. Regarding another disclosure request in October 2016, the GSDF again held back the information by claiming that they had already been destroyed. The GSDF scheming to hide the daily reports by making even false explanations constitutes an extremely serious offense.

It also came to light that Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense Kuroe Tetsuro, after hearing from GSDF Chief of Staff Okabe Toshiya on February 15 that the GSDF has the daily reports, decided to not make public this fact. This highlights how deep the systematic cover-up is.

The IGO stopped short of confirming two allegations. One is that GSDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yuasa Goro, the second highest ranking officer of the GSDF, on February 13 informed Inada of the fact that the daily reports had been stored by the GSDF. The other is that Inada on February 15 at a meeting with Kuroe and Okabe approved keeping the existence of the reports secret.

In the first place, the IGO is under direct control of the Defense Minister and DM Inada herself ordered the latest probe. As the IGO itself admits, the investigation covered only the administrative vice minister, the ministry’s departments, the Joint Staff Office overseeing the SDF, the Ground Staff Office, and the GSDF Central Readiness Force Command. In other words, Inada was basically not investigated. The legitimacy and credibility of the investigation results in regard to Inada’s allegations should not be taken at face value.

The IGO cannot rule out the possibility that at the meetings with Inada on February 13 and 15, top MoD officials and SDF officers mentioned that the data of the daily reports in question existed in the GSDF. Reportedly, several persons concerned say that Inada at these meetings approved hiding this fact. The suspicion over Inada’s involvement is growing.

PM Abe accountable for Inada’s scandal

Although Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is in the position of commanding the SDF, he has never ordered the MoD and SDF to explain the issue directly to him and kept defending Inada ever since the cover-up scandal came to light. His negligence in handling the scandal deserves criticism.

In order to reveal the full extent of the scandal, Abe and Inada must fulfill their responsibility to disclose details at Diet meetings.

Past related articles:
> JCP Kasai: PM Abe should dismiss defense minister [July 25, 2017]
> GSDF concealed daily reports on South Sudan PKO [March 17, 2017]
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