The Defense Agency reprimanded 42 senior Self-Defense Forces officers on Tuesday for the hiding of documents by uniformed SDF personnel around the time of a September raid on the agency.

The admonished officers included top commanders of Japan’s air force and army — General Yuji Hiraoka, Chief of Staff of the Air Self-Defense Force, and General Yuji Fujinawa, Chief of Staff of the Ground Self-Defense Force.

The reprimands come only a month after the agency took similar disciplinary actions against 31 officials, including its top bureaucrat.

The earlier series of disciplinary actions led to the resignation of Fukushiro Nukaga, who was then the agency’s director general.

In releasing the results of the agency’s in-house probe, Defense Agency Parliamentary Vice Minister Yasukazu Hamada said a total of 77 SDF officers were involved in transferring files and papers just before and after the Sept. 3 raid.

The raid was conducted by investigators in connection with a defense equipment overcharging scandal involving the agency’s Central Procurement Office.

Although Hamada admitted that some of the transfers were made systematically under the instruction of section chief-level superiors, he maintained that the transferred files and papers were unrelated to the procurement scandal. “(The SDF officers involved) should have been more confident at the time of the raid because it had nothing to do with their business. They unnecessarily became so nervous that they overreacted (and moved the files out of their offices),” Hamada told a news conference.

He said most of the documents moved out of the three forces’ headquarters buildings were related to the status of the SDF’s budget and the employment of retired SDF officers by private firms.

The involved officers explained that they did so out of fear that their daily operations would be hindered should those files and papers be confiscated, according to Hamada.

New coverup suspicions erupted earlier this month when media reports alleged that unidentified ASDF officers concealed documents prior to the September raid related to the agency’s shady dealings with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.