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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 9 - 15  > 2017 Defense White Paper just tries to make good impression on Trump administration
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2017 August 9 - 15 [POLITICS]

2017 Defense White Paper just tries to make good impression on Trump administration

August 9, 2017
Akahata editorial

The Defense Ministry on August 8 published its 2017 white paper. The ministry had scheduled to make public the annual report, “Defense of Japan 2017”, on August 1, but decided to postpone the release because former Defense Minister Inada Tomomi on July 28 resigned from the post due to the ministry’s cover-up scandal over the “daily reports” kept by the Self-Defense Force units assigned to the UN PKO in South Sudan. The preamble to the report by Inada was replaced with one by newly-appointed Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori. The white paper does not mention the issue of the daily reports, evidently in a bid to put a lid on the cover-up scandal. On the other hand, regarding the Japan-U.S. alliance, the white paper describes the importance of Japan’s military alliance, trying to buy favors from the Trump administration. Although the government document emphasizes the need to obtain from the general public understanding of the nation’s defense policies, it appears to be more eager to get support from outside the country.

Not a word mentioned about ‘daily reports’

The MoD and the SDF were found to have concealed the daily journal written by SDF peacekeepers in South Sudan. This revelation has shaken the foundation of the current system designed to enable the general public and lawmakers to access administrative information. Despite the scandal’s seriousness, the annual defense report does not even touch on the cover-up scandal and instead states that the ministry discloses administrative documents according to the law concerning access to information held by administrative organs. The ministry shows no sign of remorse over the scandal.

Regarding the daily report scandal, several facts have been confirmed. Ground SDF officials dismissed an information disclosure request for the daily reports by making a false explanation that the journals were already discarded. After that, the GSDF destroyed the documents in question in order to make the reality match what it had said. Furthermore, high-ranking officials of the Defense Ministry and the GSDF decided to keep the storage of daily reports secret. A wide range of staff in the MoD and the SDF were involved in the cover up.

In addition, it is strongly suspected that Inada gave her approval to the cover up.

The daily reports showed that South Sudan was in a state of civil war, referring to the situation as a “combat” situation in which an armed conflict broke out in the capital city of Juba in July 2016. On the other hand, the white paper states that the situation in Juba is relatively stable, calling that conflict a case of shots being fired. With this statement, it is trying to rationalize giving “rush-and-rescue” missions to the dispatched GSDF units based on the unconstitutional war legislation. It is a matter of grave concern that the Abe government continues to implement the war laws while hiding South Sudan’s dangerous situation from public view.

The description of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the white paper is also highly unusual.

A section in the paper stresses the importance of the bilateral alliance, claiming that the U.S. military presence in Japan based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is beneficial to the United States as well as to Japan. This claim was made apparently in response to the fact that President Trump suggested the possibility of the withdrawal of American troops from Japan during his presidential campaign.

The section emphasizes that if an armed conflict occurs in the Asia-Pacific region, U.S. troops in Japan will be able to deploy more quickly than units dispatched from outside the region and that American bases in Japan will serve as forward bases for reinforcements if needed from the U.S. mainland. This is tantamount to acknowledging that the whole of Japan has become a major U.S. stronghold to attack foreign countries. It should be out of the question to enhance the functions of U.S. military facilities in Japan, including the new base construction in Okinawa, as the defense of Japan is not their primary function.

Increasing public distrust

In the preface to the white paper, Defense Minister Onodera says that he will work to improve public trust in the ministry and the SDF. Contrary to his statement, this official report will only help increase public distrust.

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