An independent investigative committee set up by the Defense Agency to review its procurement system in the wake of a major overcharging scandal met for the first time Thursday.

Comprised of six members from the private sector, the committee, headed by Teikyo University Law professor Takeshi Kawai, will serve as an advisory body to Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga.

“Since it’s been already one year since this procurement problem came to light, we must exercise our self-cleansing power to investigate and solve the problem and regain public trust,” said Nukaga at the committee’s first meeting at the agency headquarters in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

Nukaga asked committee members to give opinions candidly on the issues, including the hiring of retired agency officials by defense contractors. He also directed the committee to research defense equipment procurement systems of other countries.

The members proposed that the authority of individual procurement officials should be weakened. As well, they suggested that procurement officials need to improve their ability to properly analyze materials provided by suppliers.

They also demanded more competition in the agency’s procurement process. The committee members include Tsutomu Hotta, lawyer and former prosecutor at the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, and Ichiro Maeda, commentator for the nation’s public broadcaster NHK.

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