The Defense Agency plans to make penalties for personnel and Self-Defense Forces members who leak secret information harsher by raising the maximum prison term from one year to five years, agency sources said Saturday.

The agency hopes to submit a bill to amend the SDF Law to the current Diet session.

The move follows a spy scandal in which a senior Maritime Self-Defense Force officer was charged last September with passing defense secrets to a Russian military attache in Tokyo.

Shigehiro Hagisaki was indicted for violating the SDF Law, which prohibits SDF members from divulging classified information.

On Feb. 1, public prosecutors sought a one-year prison term for Hagisaki, 38. The Tokyo District Court will hand down a ruling on March 7.

Hagisaki was a lieutenant commander and researcher at the Defense Agency’s National Institute for Defense Studies until his dishonorable discharge last October.

The National Civil Service Law and the foreign service officer law also stipulate a maximum jail term of one year for leaks of secret information by government officials.

Some within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are also calling for stronger punishment for diplomats who disclose secret information, saying that in terms of national security, they should be treated on a par with SDF officers.

The agency will designate information that could threaten national security if leaked and will subject offenders to the maximum term, and is also considering making personnel in government ministries subject to the maximum penalty, the sources said.

But Foreign Ministry and Cabinet Legislation Bureau officials are cautious about tougher penalties that target only specific groups of public servants, claiming the legislation would be unfair.

In addition, some Defense Agency officials also express dissatisfaction that only defense officials will be subject to harsher penalties, noting that in the regrouping of government ministries and agencies that took effect Jan. 6, the Defense Agency is the only body that has remained an agency.

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.