JCP: GSDF unit illegally monitored dispatch foes

by Reiji Yoshida

The Ground Self-Defense Force’s information security unit conducted detailed surveillance on journalists and citizen and religious groups opposing the GSDF’s operation in Iraq, the Japanese Communist Party alleged Wednesday when revealing what it claims are GSDF internal documents.

The documents include the names and titles of the targeted individuals and photos of antimilitary rallies, the JCP said.

“We have judged there is no doubt about the credibility of these documents,” JCP leader Kazuo Shii said in a press release.

The Self-Defense Forces Law provides no legal grounds for the GSDF to conduct such activities, the JCP claimed.

The JCP claimed it obtained copies of two documents from sources inside the GSDF. Copies of the documents, which totaled 166 pages, were distributed to reporters Wednesday, with the names of individuals blotted out by the JCP to protect their privacy.

According to the JCP, the documents were produced from January 2003 to February 2004 by the Northeastern Army’s information security unit, whose main task is to prevent military intelligence leaks.

The two documents consist of monthly and weekly reports of activities of such groups and individuals. One of the two documents is titled “Activities of Domestic Forces Opposing the Dispatch of Self-Defense Forces to Iraq.”

The documents contained reports on the activities of 293 groups and individuals across the country, including Christian and Buddhist groups, although the Northeastern Army covers six prefectures in the Tohoku region — Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima.

The JCP said it had determined that the information contained in the documents was consistent with the facts.

Meeting with reporters later in the day, Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma admitted the GSDF gathered information on activities against the troop dispatch but said it is difficult to confirm the authenticity of the documents.

“Yes, I think we did (conduct surveys), but I don’t know if all of the contents (of the JCP papers) were genuine,” Kyuma said. But he added the surveillance reports were regularly discarded every three weeks after internal distribution.

In the JCP paper on citizen group activities there was a mention of the activities of opposition Lower House member Teruhiko Mashiko and an unnamed reporter of the daily Asahi Shimbun, labeled “anti-SDF.”

Mashiko called the GSDF dispatch to Iraq “unconstitutional” during a party speech, while the Asahi reporter asked questions to GSDF members at its camp in Aomori Prefecture.

But Defense Vice Minister Takemasa Moriya stressed that the GSDF and the Defense Ministry had never categorized any lawmaker or reporter as “anti-SDF” in their official documents.

Japan stationed a 600-member GSDF unit in southern Iraq from January 2004 to last July on a humanitarian and reconstruction aid mission.