Secretaries general of the four biggest opposition parties agreed Tuesday to demand the resignation of Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani over his agency’s systematic compilation of information on individuals who made information disclosure requests from the agency.
The opposition camp says Nakatani should step down since the agency initially lied to the public by declaring that the information was gathered by one official acting at his own initiative.
The Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party have indicated they will boycott Diet deliberations if the ruling bloc refuses to convene a special Diet session on the issue.
The lawmakers are also demanding deliberations be held over a controversial remark made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda that Japan could abandon its three nonnuclear principles.
According to informal negotiation between the ruling and opposition parties, a special session to be attended by Fukuda and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to be held Monday to deliberate the circumstances surrounding Fukuda’s remark.
A similar session may be held as early as Tuesday to discuss the defense agency issue, as Nakatani plans to wrap up his report on an internal probe of the agency by “early next week.”
Meanwhile, LDP heavyweight Mikio Aoki noted that it is too early to discuss Nakatani’s course of action, saying such an issue should be discussed after the agency concludes its internal probe.
“For the time being,” he said, “it is important that Nakatani does his utmost to clarify the facts.”
Nakatani still in hot seat
Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani has not been absolved of responsibility over the agency’s database scandal, in which it compiled personal information on those who made information disclosure requests from it and the Self-Defense Forces, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Tuesday.
“As he is the top superintendent of the agency, I cannot say he is not responsible for it,” Fukuda told a news conference.
Nakatani and Defense Agency Vice Minister Yasunari Ito admitted Monday that the agency’s bureaus and Air Staff and Ground Staff offices, in addition to the Maritime Staff Office, compiled the personal data and put it on the agency’s local area network, where any agency staff member was able to call up the information. The agency had said earlier that an in-house investigation showed that an officer had made such a list containing data on information-seekers “for his own use.”
“I have to say that the agency paid little attention to the importance of (the privacy of) personal information if everybody could access it,” Fukuda said.
Nakatani told a separate news conference the agency will conduct another in-house investigation and announce the results and punishment of those involved early next week.
“I am still obliged to investigate the case so that I can explain to the public what happened,” Nakatani said.
Concerning the responsibility of the agency’s senior officials, including Ito, he said, “It is premature to talk about it. I will take appropriate steps following the investigation.”
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered Ito on Tuesday morning to fully investigate the case.
Nakatani and Ito apologized for the incident at a meeting of members of defense-related committees of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Some of the LDP members said the executive office of the party and the government should take responsibility if national emergency bills are scrapped or carried over to the next session because of the scandal.
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