557 cities gave SDF private teen info

Disclosures made at request of Defense Agency to facilitate recruitment

More than 550 municipalities across the nation have provided the Defense Agency with registered personal data on teenagers that should not have been divulged, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba said Monday at a special Diet committee session.

Ishiba revealed a new investigation report on the issue at the House of Councilors special committee on privacy protection. He said that 557 cities, towns and villages supplied data at the request of the agency to assist the Self-Defense Forces’ recruitment activities.

The SDF received information from those municipalities, including the occupations of teenagers’ parents, which does not appear in registration cards that anyone can access under the Basic Resident Register Law, Ishiba said. Such cards only contain residents’ names, addresses, dates of birth and gender.

According to the report, 431 municipalities provided information on the heads of families with children of recruiting age, mostly between 15 and 18. Eighty-eight municipalities provided information on the parents and 162 municipalities provided information on their membership in residents’ associations.

The number of municipalities had increased from that cited in an earlier investigation in April. But Ishiba defended the agency, saying, “It does not mean the agency had made a slipshod report earlier. We have just conducted as thorough a check as possible.”

Norihiko Akagi, deputy chief of the Defense Agency, said the investigation was targeted at information received in April 2002 and beyond, or existing documents on information received up to March 2002.

Akagi said obtaining information about the parents of teenagers was necessary to determine what time SDF officials should visit their homes for recruitment efforts.

Defense Agency officials have said this method of gathering data has been practiced since the mid-1960s, and that more than one-third of municipalities have agreed to provide data to the agency.