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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 14 - 20  > ASDF coerces personnel to provide private cellphone records
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2016 December 14 - 20 [SDF]

ASDF coerces personnel to provide private cellphone records

December 14, 2016
The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force has coerced its members to submit the records of their private cellphones under the pretext of “information security”, Akahata reported on December 14.

According to Akahata, the headquarters of the ASDF Komatsu Air Base in Komatsu City in Ishikawa Prefecture ordered all 1,800 members stationed at the base to provide their cellphone records in early December.

In response to an Akahata inquiry, a senior officer at the base, Ando Hiroshi, said that the order was issued after a local newspaper revealed on December 9 that some rifle parts have gone missing at the base.

When Akahata asked if the order was issued in an attempt to identify a whistle-blower, the officer did not deny that, saying, “Its purpose is to prevent information leaks by obtaining our personnel’s communication with the outside.” He added that it is up to each member whether to produce their phone records.

However, an ASDF member said, “My boss has threatened me by saying, ‘If you don’t follow the directive, you’ll be considered to be a suspect.’ This is coercion.” Another member said, “I cannot tolerate such an invasion of privacy.”

Lawyer Nakatani Yuji, a member of the counsel for plaintiffs seeking an injunction against the dispatch of SDF units for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), pointed out that the infringement on SDF members’ personal rights has a close connection with the Abe government move to turn Japan into a nation capable of fighting wars abroad. “The ASDF should withdraw the order immediately,” he stressed.

* * *

Human-rights abuse goes hand in hand with Abe’s plan to put SDF on war footing

A call log is what the Constitution guarantees as a human right. Its Article 21 stipulates that no censorship “shall be maintained nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated”.

By using abstract excuses such as “protection of secrets and information” and “protection of troops”, the ASDF HQ, with no legal investigatory power, forced all its personnel to submit a record of calls on their private mobile phones. This is an abuse of authority, which is absolutely illegal.

The coerced submission of a telephone log is not simply a “retaliatory” response to a whistleblower.

It also implies a preparation for a wartime structure restricting rights. The HQ said it asked SDF members to hand in their call logs “in order to prevent any impact on their primary duties”. These duties actually include overseas PKO missions.

The Abe government has turned the SDF into an “SDF capable of fighting a war” by giving the GSDF what is called the “kaketsuke-keigo” duty and sent them to South Sudan to take part in UN PKO activities. With this, the possibility for SDF staffers to resort to an unconstitutional use of armed force has increased.

The ASDF is no exception. Immediately after the forcible enactment of the national security legislation last year, the Air Defense Command removed all information boards at all SDF bases, including the Komatsu AB, directing where the fighter unit is located on the base premises for reason of “information security”.

When the state secrecy law was enacted, Akahata revealed that the SDF forced its personnel to submit a written pledge that they would turn in a record of incoming and outgoing calls on their mobile phones.

Readiness for a “wartime regime” goes in tandem with human-rights violations inside the SDF based on the militarist logic, “information security”. But again, the “secrecy of any means of communication” is a fundamental human right as protected by the Constitution. Blatantly disregarding human rights cannot be tolerated.
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