Defense Agency director general Fukushiro Nukaga is widely expected to be forced to step down to take responsibility for an ongoing procurement scandal after Upper House passage Friday of a nonbinding resolution calling for his immediate resignation.Although the defense chief reiterated Friday evening that he has no intention of stepping down despite the Upper House resolution, government sources said that Nukaga would likely leave his post pending the conclusion of an ongoing in-house probe of the scandal and alleged coverups by agency officials.In effect, Nukaga, while remaining in office for the time being, will likely be forced into a voluntary resignation within this year, according to sources. “I take the resolution very seriously. But I consider it my responsibility to lead the ongoing in-house probe (into the alleged coverup), severely punish agency officials if necessary, and carry out drastic reforms of the agency’s procurement system,” Nukaga told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi over the Upper House vote on the opposition-proposed motion. Nukaga took office 2 1/2 months ago.During a news conference later in the day, Obuchi said that what the defense chief should do is not step down, but make the utmost effort to regain public confidence in the agency through an investigation. “It is the responsibility of the defense chief to implement preventive measures,” Obuchi said.

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