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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 27 - March 4  > Shii calls for Defense Ministry’s military-first, ‘hush-hush’ attitude to be questioned
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2008 February 27 - March 4 [SDF]

Shii calls for Defense Ministry’s military-first, ‘hush-hush’ attitude to be questioned

February 29, 2008
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo has said that the Defense Ministry’s deep-rooted “military-comes-first” and “hush-hush” attitudes must be called into question in connection with its response to the Aegis-equipped destroyer’s collision with a fishing boat.

At a news conference in the Diet on February 28, Shii said, “The crucial task is for the Diet to thoroughly investigate these two problems in the interest of the Japanese people.”

Citing the Atago captain’s remark that he “was not aware that so many fishing boats were operating in the area,” the JCP chair pointed out that the Maritime SDF Aegis-equipped destroyer Atago did not change its direction to avoid a collision even after it spotted the fishing boat.

The Defense Ministry initially announced that the MSDF destroyer spotted the fishing boat two minutes before the collision but later admitted that it was actually 12 minutes before. The correction was not announced until the day after the ministry learned of the correct time.

It also withheld the fact that it had interviewed Atago’s chief navigator right after the collision without permission from the Japan Coast Guard. Vice Defense Minister Masuda Kohei said that he does not remember the details of the interview.

Shii criticized the Defense Ministry for “hiding everything it feels the need to hide from the public.”

In 1988, the MSDF submarine Nadashio collided with a fishing boat in Yokosuka when it failed to change direction to avoid a collision. It was found later that the warship had rewritten the logbook. Shii pointed out that the Defense Ministry’s “military-comes-first” and “hush-hush” attitudes not only persist but are even worsening.

“In the process of the investigation, it will become necessary to call Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru’s responsibility into question,” Shii said.
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