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The descriptions in the logs would have seen the Japanese troops withdrawn as they could have been caught up in fighting overseas, which would have endangered their lives and contravened the nation’s pacifist constitution.