A visit to Japan by Col. Gen. Yuri Burkeyev, commander in chief of the Russian Ground Forces, may be postponed in the wake of last week’s arrest of a Maritime Self-Defense Force officer on charges of spying for a Russian Embassy official in Tokyo, according to Defense Agency sources.
On Wednesday, Russian news agency ITAR-Tass reported that Burkeyev will travel to Japan as scheduled next Tuesday, but Defense Agency sources said the trip might be postponed.
A decision will be made after Defense Agency chief Kazuo Torashima returns from the U.S. on Thursday.
Apart from the Burkeyev trip, the agency may also suspend a visit by 30 senior Self-Defense Forces officers to Russia scheduled to start Sept. 19.
The spying case has cast the two events, arranged with the intention of promoting military cooperation between the two countries, in doubt.
Defense Agency sources said the agency will consult with the Foreign Ministry before making a final decision on the two trips.
Politicians within the ruling coalition have been pressuring the agency to reconsider its stance with Russia.
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev has also scheduled a trip to Japan in November. Defense Agency sources said Sergeyev’s trip will not be affected.
On Tuesday, Torashima told Japanese reporters in Washington that the agency will set up a special panel to craft counterespionage measures to prevent further spying incidents.
The measures being considered by the committee, to be created within this month, will include prohibiting SDF officers from contacting foreign military attaches stationed in Japan on an individual basis and banning the photocopying of classified documents, Torashima said.
The measures also call for the Defense Agency to step up cooperation with security authorities to crack down on possible espionage cases, the defense chief said.
Security of SDF computer systems would also be strengthened to make outside access to classified data difficult, he said.
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