Ja­pan peace­keep­ing cover-up forces new de­nial

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - Xin­hua

TOKYO: Ja­pan’s De­fence Min­is­ter To­momi Inada has once again de­nied her in­volve­ment in a cover-up scan­dal of con­ceal­ing mis­sion logs record­ing the daily ac­tiv­ity of Ja­panese troops dur­ing a con­tro­ver­sial peace­keep­ing mis­sion in South Su­dan.

Inada main­tained she was not com­plicit in a plan to con­ceal the logs of the troops, ini­tially said to have been dis­carded by Ground Self-De­fence Force (GSDF) mem­bers, but later found to have been kept in dig­i­tal for­mat.

But a com­mer­cial net­work TV com­pany has re­port­edly ob­tained “hand­writ­ten notes” taken by a se­nior of­fi­cial from the de­fence min­istry dur­ing a meet­ing of top of­fi­cials held on Fe­bru­ary 13.

The notes – con­trary to Inada’s de­nials – show that the min­is­ter was aware of the logs’ ex­is­tence, which was made clear to her by a se­nior Ground Staff Of­fice mem­ber.

At a meet­ing two days later, top of­fi­cials de­cided the logs’ ex­is­tence should be con­cealed, sources have stated. Inada, the sources said, agreed to con­ceal the logs.

Af­ter the “notes” emerged, Inada’s stance re­mained un­wa­ver­ing. “I have not con­firmed the ex­is­tence of the notes,” she said.

Inada, a lawyer-turned-politi­cian, ac­cord­ing to claims by op­po­si­tion party mem­bers who again called for her res­ig­na­tion, was al­legedly seek­ing to con­ceal the logs so that the GSDF troops could re­main in South Su­dan un­der new op­er­a­tional guide­lines, de­spite the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion and po­ten­tially im­mi­nent phys­i­cal dan­ger to the troops.

The logs record the troop’s ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing a time when 270 peo­ple died in fighting be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and rebels in Juba, be­tween July 7 and 12 last year.

In the re­cov­ered logs, the troops said they must be “care­ful about get­ting drawn into sud­den fighting in the city”. The record also refers to the pos­si­ble “sus­pen­sion of UN ac­tiv­i­ties amid in­ten­si­fy­ing clashes in Juba.

The de­scrip­tions in the logs would have seen the Ja­panese troops with­drawn as they could have been caught up in fighting over­seas, which would have en­dan­gered their lives and con­tra­vened the na­tion’s paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion.

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