• Kyodo

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A former high-ranking Ground Self-Defense Force officer was given a suspended three-year sentence Friday after the Shizuoka District Court found him guilty of allowing his civilian friends to fire weapons at a GSDF range.

The court’s Numazu branch convicted Yasunobu Hideshima, 53, a former colonel, of violating the Firearm and Sword Possession Control Law, but suspended his sentence for three years.

“The defendant used his high-ranking position in the GSDF to allow his civilian friends to use weapons,” Judge Hiroshi Masuyama said. He also said Hideshima’s actions damaged the public’s trust.

However, the judge added that Hideshima was not motivated by self-interest and noted the defendant has already received disciplinary action.

According to the court, Hideshima invited the three friends to a shooting practice in November 1994. He let them fire machineguns and rifles at the Higashi-Fuji Training Area in Gotenba, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Prosecutors sought three years in prison for Hideshima. The three friends, who fired about 500 rounds, were not prosecuted.

It was learned that the GSDF had tried to cover up the case.

In April, the GSDF dismissed Hideshima and reprimanded 24 officers in connection with the coverup. Two of the officers were suspended from duty.

Hideshima had also been accused of illegally firing a hunting rifle borrowed from one of the three friends, but the statute of limitations ran out on the case in November 1999.

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