Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Thursday called into question the credibility of claims made by former defense officials that they reported the existence of controversial daily logs from Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan to his predecessor, Tomomi Inada.
Inada, who stepped down as defense minister late last month over allegations of a cover-up of the logs, has denied that she was told about the existence of the logs.
“While the claim of not having been told about the logs is consistent, the claims of possibly having made the report have changed several times,” Onodera said at a meeting of the House of Representatives Security Committee.
The committee meeting was convened for off-session deliberations in the Diet to discuss the alleged cover-up of the logs written by Ground Self-Defense Force troops sent to South Sudan on a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
The logs included notes on armed clashes in the African country. A ceasefire agreement is one of the prerequisites for sending Japanese peacekeepers overseas.
In December last year, the Defense Ministry rejected requests calling for public disclosure of the logs, claiming that they had been disposed of. In January, however, it was found that electronic data from the logs were being stored at the GSDF.
An investigation by the ministry’s Inspector General’s Office of Legal Compliance failed to clearly determine whether Inada was involved in a decision to keep the logs undisclosed.
In announcing the outcome of the investigation in late July, the inspector general’s office said some remarks may have been made about the logs during briefings that Inada received from Gen. Toshiya Okabe, then GSDF chief of staff, and Tetsuro Kuroe, then vice defense minister, in February.
In a hearing with investigators from the inspector general’s office in July, Inada denied that she was told about the existence of the logs. Onodera explained at Thursday’s Lower House meeting that during their recent telephone conversations, Inada confirmed that remarks she made during the investigation were true.
Opposition parties had called on Inada, Okabe and Kuroe to give unsworn testimony during the lower house meeting, but the ruling camp had rejected the request. Yuichi Goto of the main opposition Democratic Party reiterated the request to summon Inada, Okabe and Kuroe, saying that the Diet should be told the truth. Onodera only said that the decision is up to the committee.
Masayoshi Tatsumi, former administrative vice chief of staff at the SDF’s Joint Staff, who was present at the February meeting of Inada, Okabe and Kuroe, said he will not comment on whether Inada was told about the existence of the logs.Speech