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Main points of interpellations at out-of-session deliberations in both houses of Diet

The following is the gist of main points discussed at out-of-session Diet deliberations at the Upper and Lower Houses.

 

Daily activity logs

 

Lower House

 

Masakazu Hamachi (Komeito): The Ministry of Defense destroyed [the Self-Defense Forces’] daily activity logs. Amidst the resignation of Minister Tomomi Inada as defense minister, North Korea launched a missile.

 

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera: The matter is something that we should seriously take stock of. With the security situation facing Japan growing increasingly serious, I sincerely apologize to the nation. We will make an all-out effort to prevent a similar scandal from happening again.

 

Hamachi: The Inspector-General’s Office of Legal Compliance reached an ambiguous conclusion [on whether Inada approved of not disclosing the daily activity log data]. Why is that?

 

Hiroshi Marui, deputy head in the Inspector-General’s Office of Legal Compliance: We could not reach a specific conclusion as people (who are believed to have reported to Inada) said they “don’t recall correctly” about the existence of the daily activity logs.

 

Sekio Masuda (Democratic Party): Did they say whether they reported to Inada?

 

Onodera: People who said they did not report to Inada are consistent in their stories, but those who said they may have reported to Inada changed their stories a few times.

 

Yuichiro Tamaki (DP): When you were interviewed by the Inspector-General’s Office of Legal Compliance, did you say that there was an exchange of words (that could lead to the conclusion that Inada was briefed on the matter) during a briefing to the Minister on Feb. 13 and 15?

 

Masayoshi Tatsumi, vice-minister of defense for international affairs: I cooperated in the investigation and responded to the inquiry. The Inspector-General’s office acknowledged the facts by comprehensively taking into account arguments made from various circles. These are stated in the investigation results. I would like to decline to make a comment.

 

Tamaki: The MOD should disclose the Ground Self-Defense Force’s report and handwritten memos.

 

Onodera: Disclosure would be difficult as it could impede operations at the Inspector-General’s office. Even if we receive a request based on the information disclosure act, the information is categorized as information that cannot be released to the public.

 

Kantoku Teruya (Social Democratic Party): On the daily activity log issue, suppose the GSDF had acted differently from what Inada had in mind. That would mean civilian control is not functioning.

 

Onodera: Civilian control is an important principle and it must be guaranteed in a democratic nation. We would like to carry out reform to ensure civilian control can function well.

 

Upper House

 

Masashi Adachi (Liberal Democratic Party): How are you going to improve the management of e-data of administrative documents?

 

MOD Minister’s Secretariat Director-General Keiichi Takahashi: We will introduce a rigid data classification system and restrict data access. We will identify which division is responsible for data if it is shared by multiple divisions.  

 

Tetsuro Fukuyama (DP): Why isn’t Inada present at the deliberations?

 

Onodera: It is up to a committee whether to ask her to testify as an unsworn witness in the Diet.

 

Fukuyama: Have you confirmed whether handwritten memos, which the media reported, exist?

 

Marui: We have confirmed their existence, but we cannot go into the details of the documents as they are now in the possession of the Inspector-General’s office.

 

Motohiro Ono (DP): Minister Onodera, will you be able to answer questions about what Inada remembered?

 

Onodera: I was briefed by the Inspector-General’s office about its investigation results and talked to Inada about the content of the report on the phone.

 

Satoshi Inoue (Japanese Communist Party): With regards to the daily activity log issue, Tadao Maeda, director-general of the department of operations and plans at Ground Staff Office, mentioned that documents were managed erroneously.

 

Onodera: The remark was regrettable and I immediately reprimanded him.

 

Hitoshi Asada (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): How many SDF personnel could access the daily activity logs posted on the GSDF’s bulletin board?

 

Isao Konami, chief inspector at the Inspector-General’s Office: About 40,000 personnel had access to the data. 

 

Keiko Itokazu (Okinawa Whirlwind): With regards to how to deal with information disclosure and the cover-up attempt, did you hold discussions with Prime Minister Abe?

 

Takahashi: There was no talk of the daily activity log issue [with the Prime Minister].

 

Osprey accident

 

Lower House

 

Akira Kasai (JCP):  Why doesn’t the government cancel Osprey flights after the aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia?

 

Onodera: After we were informed about the accident by the U.S. Marines Corps., the MOD requested the U.S. military to investigate the cause, prevent a recurrence of a similar accident and refrain from Osprey flights. We were told by the deputy commander of the U.S. Forces Japan that “we received a request for self-restraint but concluded it is necessary to operate [the MV-22] after ensuring the safety.” We will continue to ask the U.S. to keep safety in mind.

 

Upper House

 

Inoue: The Osprey flew on Aug. 7 and 8. As long as there are concerns, flights should be suspended.

 

Onodera: We were told by the U.S. side that the Osprey flew on Aug. 7 due to the operational necessity. We are inquiring about the flight operation on Aug. 8.

 

Inoue: Six Osprey aircraft are scheduled to join a joint Japan-U.S. exercise already underway in Hokkaido. My understanding is that Japan will not participate in the drill until it receives a convincing explanation [from the U.S. side] that the Osprey is safe to fly. Is this correct?

 

Onodera: We continue to coordinate with the U.S.

 

DPRK missile

 

Lower House

 

Tamaki: North Korea has announced that it will mount enveloping fire around Guam. In Shikoku and other regions, which missiles are expected to fly over, the Patriot Advance Capability-3 (PAC3) system is not deployed.

 

Onodera: In principle, Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis ships constitute our missile defense (MD) system to protect all Japan and the PAC3 will be deployed if these ships become unable to shoot down [incoming missiles]. We will build a system that makes Japan safe and secure.

 

Yuichi Goto (DP): Is it legally possible for Japan to shoot down missiles headed toward Guam?

 

Onodera: It is possible if Japan’s survival is at stake and the new three requirements (to exercise the right to collective self-defense based on security laws) are met.

 

Upper House

 

Asada: What will the government do if missiles land on Japanese territory? Is it possible for the SDF to mount a counterattack under the scope of exercising the individual self-defense right?

 

Onodera: The MOD and the SDF will take necessary steps, such as confirming any damage and helping nearby residents with evacuation. With regards to Japan’s capability to attack an enemy base, the government has long interpreted the act as being permissible under the Constitution. That is my understanding.

 

Antonio Inoki (Independent): It is only a matter of time before North Korea develops a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

 

Satoshi Maeda, director-general of bureau of defense at MOD: We have a multifaceted defense system, which comprises technologies such as the PAC3 and Aegis ships carrying the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3). Our interception system can nullify the functions of detonators mounted on nuclear weapons. Thus we assume that there will be no damage caused by nuclear explosions.

 

Kake issue

 

Upper House

 

Fukuyama: According to media reports, a meeting of the council on university establishment and school corporations was convened yesterday but put off making a decision.  

 

State Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hideki Niwa: To ensure the council can examine the mater on a fair and just basis, the content and schedules of its meetings will not be made public.

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