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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 March 12 - 18  > Stop the illegal SDF surveillance of the public
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2008 March 12 - 18 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Stop the illegal SDF surveillance of the public

March 17, 2008
Akahata editorial

The Ministry of Defense has a plan to integrate the three security intelligence units now existing in each of the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces by the end of March 2009. The ministry intends to submit a bill to revise the SDF Law for this purpose in the current session of the Diet.

A report of the government Council for Reforming the Ministry of Defense (set up in late 2007 under the chief cabinet secretary) states that such integration is necessary for effectively collecting, analyzing, and sharing data concerning spying against the SDF. This is intended not only to prevent secret SDF data from being leaked, but also to strengthen SDF activities to keep watch on the general public. If implemented, it will be an unconstitutional act that violates basic human rights.

Hostility toward peace movements

The intelligence security unit that exists in each of the Ground, Air, and Maritime Self-Defense Forces is tasked mainly to monitor anti-war movements and even popular movements for better living conditions as well as to “prevent secrets from being leaked.”

Last June, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo exposed copies of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s internal documents that show how it was collecting intelligence in illegal ways, bringing to light a sinister aspect of the SDF.

It is unconstitutional for the government to spy on the public. It is particularly unconscionable for the SDF, which is the organization that wages wars in contravention of the Constitution, to monitor people in Japan who are exercising the right to live in peace as well as other constitutional rights.

Far from accepting the public criticism, the government and the Defense Ministry are committed to further strengthen the surveillance of activities of the public through integrating the intelligence security units of the three self-defense forces.

They are trying to unify the surveillance capability apparently with the aim of allowing the SDF to check on public moves. Changing the methods and extent of surveillance of the public is directly linked to the government policy of turning Japan into a country that wages war.

By upgrading international cooperation for peace to a “main mission” of the SDF, the Japanese government is intent on paving the way for Japan’s full-fledged participation in U.S. preemptive wars waged globally. Clearly, sending the SDF abroad has nothing to do with the defense of Japan, and is unconstitutional.

The Japanese people have renounced war as a means of settling international disputes. It is natural for them to oppose any government policy that calls for the country to go to war abroad. It is for this reason that the movement opposing dispatches of the SDF to Iraq and calling for an immediate withdrawal of SDF units from Iraq is spreading.

The creation of the unified SDF intelligence security unit is thus aimed at containing the anti-war movement and making it easier for the government to strengthen Japan’s readiness to go to war abroad without difficulty due to internal difficulty.

As JCP Chair Shii revealed, a document of the Ground Self-Defense Force Northeastern Army clearly stated that the main task of the intelligence security unit was to gather information concerning the “growing nationwide movement against SDF dispatches to Iraq.”

History shows that wars of aggression are inseparable from the suppression of human rights. That was what happened in Japan in the run-up to the last war. In order to prevent the recurrence of a war of aggression, it is essential to increase the struggle against SDF surveillance of the public that endangers the freedoms of assembly, association, and speech.

Stop the revival of repression by the military

The creation of an integrated SDF intelligence unit could pave the way for a revival of state control of the public.

Japan’s military police was tasked initially to maintain order in the military. But it later came to take on the functions of surveillance of the public and even suppressed anti-war calls, thus paving the way for the war of aggression. We must not allow the SDF to make the moves again.
- Akahata, March 17, 2008
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