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A Liberal Democratic Party project team on national defense proposed Thursday that stiffer penalties be imposed on people who leak classified information from the Self-Defense Forces, LDP officials said.

The proposal follows the recent arrest of a senior Maritime Self-Defense Force officer charged with passing defense secrets to a Russian military attache in Tokyo, the officials said.

The proposal calls for the SDF Law to be revised, saying the maximum penalty under the law of one year in prison is too lenient.

However, the proposal stopped short of spelling out how tough the maximum punishment should be. Instead, it proposed the matter be decided by looking to a Japan-U.S. defense agreement that stipulates a maximum of 10 years in prison for espionage.

The proposal said it is necessary to review SDF sections handling classified information and draw up thorough instructions for SDF officers who meet foreign military attaches. It also calls for stepping up cooperation with police to crack down on potential espionage cases.

The Defense Agency is expected to draw up similar preventive measures this month, though they will require coordination with other government ministries and agencies in terms of penalties for public servants, the officials said. The proposal also says it is necessary for the SDF to be specified as a “military” organization in the Constitution to raise morale within the SDF so that members can be better trusted with secrets.

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