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U.S. armed services committee chairman hopes SDF gets more power

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

The head of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee expressed hope Tuesday that the Self-Defense Forces will be granted more power in connection with the buildup of the Chinese military.

“We cannot be everywhere . . . around the world,” Howard McKeon, the committee’s Republican chairman, said in reference to the growing number of Chinese aircraft flying close to Japanese airspace.

“We have to look to our partners” to increase their capacity and abilities, and Japan is a “great partner” of the United States, McKeon said at an event held in Congress on U.S. policy in Asia.

“It is incumbent upon us to do all we can to build up the strength of our partners so that they can bring more to the table when they’re needed,” McKeon said.

Secret docs destroyed

JIJI

The Defense Ministry destroyed around 34,300 secret documents during the five years through 2011, ministry spokesman Masayoshi Tatsumi said.

The ministry is expected to face criticism from opposition parties before the start of Diet discussions on a state secrets protection bill aimed at strengthening penalties on government officials who leak secrets on foreign and defense policies.

Defense secrets are decided on by the defense minister under the revised Self-Defense Forces law that took effect in 2002. The minister designates defense secrets from information gathered by the SDF as well as information about SDF operations.

Such secret documents should be kept for up to 30 years. Although documents can be kept beyond 30 years, they can be destroyed with the approval of a senior ministry official.

If the state secrets protection bill is enacted and comes into force, defense secrets will be managed as designated state secrets.