Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Ground Self-Defense Force actually kept the daily activity logs written by its troops sent to South Sudan to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations there, while claiming that it had discarded them, it was learned Thursday.
At the day’s meeting of the Security Committee of the House of Representatives, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said she had ordered GSDF Chief of Staff Gen. Toshiya Okabe to look into the matter.
She also instructed the Inspector General’s Office of Legal Compliance (IGO), which is under the direct control of the minister, to conduct a special investigation to find out how the GDSF handled the daily logs.
“We’ll conduct a thorough investigation,” Inada said, adding, “If it turns out that the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces are in the habit of covering things up, I’ll take the responsibility of correcting that.”
In December last year, the ministry said that it could not disclose the daily activity logs because they had been discarded.
As data on the logs were found at the Joint Staff Office later in the month, however, the ministry disclosed part of them last month.
At that time, the ministry said that the GSDF unit dispatched to take part in the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the GSDF Central Readiness Force, which received the logs from the unit, had discarded them.
According to a media report, electronic data on the logs were found to have been kept at the GSDF in mid-January, but an order was issued in February to erase the data because their existence was inconsistent with the explanations given by the ministry.
Inada said at the committee meeting that she will take strict action if what has been reported turns out to be true.
At the same time, Inada said, “I would never order them to discard the data.”
The minister said that she will consider announcing the findings from the special inspection to be conducted by prosecutors under the IGO in the form of an interim report.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday issued an instruction through Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to thoroughly sort out the problems.
At a press conference, Suga, the top government spokesman, said: “If the report is true, the public’s trust in the Defense Ministry and the SDF will be seriously damaged. The results of the investigations should be announced as swiftly as possible.”
Meanwhile, Suga said that the government is not at all thinking about having Inada resign as defense minister.