Toru Ishikawa, chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, said Friday that everyone at Yokosuka Communication Station, including its commander, was involved in a drugs coverup related to a petty officer third class who was arrested last month.
The MSDF chief apologized to the public and pledged that the MSDF will severely punish those involved in the case.
MSDF officials also said drugs may have been used by other officers, adding that they plan to further investigate the matter.
According to an MSDF investigation report released Friday, a 55-year-old retired commander, who was the commanding officer of the station at the time, along with a 50-year-old lieutenant commander, approved the disposal of a package of stimulants and a syringe.
This followed a report by Lt. j.g. Kazumasa Kawajiri, 50, that he had found the items in a bag belonging to Masako Koike, 28, after she collapsed and was taken to a hospital.
Police arrested Koike on April 6 on suspicion of using illegal drugs and sent papers on Kawajiri to prosecutors on May 14 on suspicion of possessing drugs.
According to the MSDF report, Koike had told Kawajiri that the package contained vitamins. Koike’s three superiors did not confirm that the package contained stimulants, saying instead that they “doubted that it might be stimulants,” the officials said.
The superior officers told MSDF investigators that they were afraid to confirm the package contained drugs, the officials added.
The case was brought to light in February by an audit section chief at the station, who immediately reported the case to military police and cooperated with Yamaguchi Prefectural Police in the arrest of Koike, the officials said.
Yamaguchi police had already arrested another MSDF officer, former Leading Seaman Masaru Inoue, on Feb. 18.
Inoue was a friend of Koike’s while she was assigned to the Shimonoseki base.
When the audit section chief called the executive officer to ask about the case and criticize the coverup, the lieutenant commander allegedly responded by saying, “What are you talking about? Are you drunk?” according to the MSDF investigation.
MSDF officials said Inoue, who allegedly provided Koike with drugs, may have been using illegal drugs since before he joined the MSDF nine years ago. Although many of his colleagues witnessed symptoms such as loss of weight and fatigue, they did not realize that they were caused by use of drugs, they said.
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