The Defense Agency officially launched an in-house investigation Tuesday over new suspicions of a coverup involving uniformed Self-Defense Forces officers.

Defense Agency Director General Hosei Norota acknowledged during Diet debate Monday that uniformed officers were involved in the transfer of agency documents prior to a raid by prosecutors in early September.

A team, led by the agency’s parliamentary vice minister, Yasukazu Hamada, will probe the head offices of the SDF’s three branches, as well as the Joint Staff Council, the Defense Facilities Administration Agency and the Technical Research and Development Institute, an agency affiliate, Norota said Tuesday.

Uniformed officers of the Air, Ground and Maritime Self-Defense Forces moved copies of some filed documents out of their offices prior to the raid, which was conducted in connection with a procurement overcharge scandal, the Defense Agency said Monday.

Since media reports last weekend alleged that coverup attempts by uniformed officers took place, the agency has sent a questionnaire survey to over 3,000 SDF members, agency officials said.

During Tuesday’s Diet deliberations, Norota said those involved in the coverup were SDF officers at the colonel and captain rank and below, as well as clerical staffers.

At a session of the Lower House Budget Committee, Norota said the officers hid documents relating to the Defense Agency budget and the employment of officers by civilian firms after their retirement.

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