The nationalist essay that proved the undoing of Air Self-Defense Force chief Gen. Toshio Tamogami was “inappropriate” and “damaged public trust” in the ASDF, his successor, Gen. Kenichiro Hokazono, said Friday in Tokyo.
The government tapped Hokazono, the Defense Ministry’s intelligence chief, earlier in the day to succeed Tamogami as head of the ASDF.
The appointment comes after Tamogami was fired on Oct. 31 for his controversial remarks in an essay on Japan’s wartime role, including his argument that Tokyo was tricked by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt into attacking Pearl Harbor.
“It was inappropriate that someone in a key position publicly stated an opinion that differs from the government’s perspective,” Hokazono said at his inaugural news conference at the Defense Ministry.
“I sincerely feel sorry and deeply apologize” for the incident, he added.
The general revealed that an additional 16 ASDF members submitted essays to the same contest organized by real estate developer Apa Group, bringing the total to 94. While it is believed that some were encouraged by Tamogami to enter the contest, Hokazono pledged to examine the circumstances to nurture “soundness” within the ASDF.
Tamogami’s essay argued that Tokyo was never an aggressor during the war and instead helped colonies prosper under its rule, in direct opposition to the government’s official line on Japan’s wartime responsibilities.