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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 April 4 - 10  > Defense Ministry should clarify allegation of cover-up over documents regarding SDF Iraq mission
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2018 April 4 - 10 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Defense Ministry should clarify allegation of cover-up over documents regarding SDF Iraq mission

April 4, 2018
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori recently announced that the ministry “found” the daily activity logs of Ground Self-Defense Force units which were dispatched to Iraq between 2004 and 2006 under the guise of “reconstruction efforts” following the U.S. invasion of the country. The newly-found materials cover 376 days and consist of a total of around 14,000 pages. Concerning these records, former Defense Minister Inada Tomomi in February 2017 explained in the Diet that they had already been discarded. The recent announcement has given rise to suspicion that the ministry intentionally concealed the existence of the documents.

According to Onodera, it was in January 2018 that the ministry found the journals describing GSDF activities in Samawah, Iraq. The SDF Joint Staff Office was informed in late February by the Ground Staff Office that officials found that the daily logs in question were stored at the GSDF research and development center and the Ground Staff Office sanitation section. The GSDF officials noticed the activity journals when they were reviewing the state of data storage after the cover-up of the existence of activity journals of GSDF units in South Sudan came to light. The Defense Ministry has yet to disclose the content of the logs on Iraq.

Back in 2004, the Defense Ministry dispatched SDF troops to Samawah in defiance of public opposition under the pretext of providing “humanitarian support”. However, in reality, their mission was to effectively support the U.S. war of aggression which the U.S. Bush administration initiated based on false information that the Iraqi Hussein regime possessed weapons of mass destruction. The Japanese government at that time asserted that the situation in Samawah does not fit the government definition of a “combat zone”. In contrast to this government assertion, it is said that bullets hit the SDF camp in Samawah multiple times. The newly-found journals are expected to reveal what really happened in Samawah.

Former DM Inada, who resigned over the concealment of daily journals by SDF peacekeepers in South Sudan, in February 2017 in the Diet in response to a question from an opposition party lawmaker said that the ministry was unable to find the records of SDF activities in Iraq. The possibility of intentional concealment cannot be ruled out. The daily logs by SDF troops in Iraq were found at the SDF in January and the Ground Staff Office reported this fact to the Joint Staff Office in late February, and then this information reached DM Onodera in late March. The ministry’s response was inexplicably delayed.

Concerning former DM Inada’s remark that the daily logs of SDF troops in Iraq no longer exist, DM Onodera offered an apology and said that the ministry searched for the documents in response to opposition party lawmakers’ information disclosure requests and questions, but the ministry was unable to find them at that time. Yet, Onodera stopped short of touching on the reason for the slow response, saying that the ministry needed to check on the details. In order to clarify the allegation regarding the intentional concealment of the materials, the ministry should reveal all details regarding the issue including the timeline of events as well as make the newly “found” documents available to the public without delay.

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