Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi voiced regret Monday over the “confusion” the Defense Agency caused by initially withholding the full report of an in-house probe into a scandal involving background checks on people seeking information.

“It is extremely regrettable that it caused unnecessary confusion. We would like to receive serious criticism and aim at recovering trust,” Koizumi told a House of Representatives special committee dealing with a package of bills aimed at establishing a legal framework to govern the nation’s response to a military attack.

The Defense Agency was harshly criticized after officials released a four-page summary, allegedly to try to suppress the full 38-page report of the scandal, which involved agency officials keeping records on people who made information disclosure requests under the freedom of information law

The full report was eventually released late on June 11, after the release of the summary earlier in the day kicked up a storm of controversy.

The opposition camp alleges that top Liberal Democratic Party officials and senior Koizumi aides had tried to hide the full report.

Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani told the same committee session: “There are cases in which we listen to opinions of the ruling parties as a reference. We thought there was no need to release the full report unless requested.

“We released it as a result, and we have no intention of hiding (the report).”

Meanwhile, the opposition camp demanded that Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the LDP, be among those summoned to the Diet to give unsworn testimony on the matter.

Nakatani claimed that the Maritime Self-Defense Force lieutenant commander who compiled one of the lists containing private data on information seekers was not instructed to do so by his superiors and that there was no organized involvement on the part of the agency.

The full report indicates there were attempts within the agency to cover up the extent of the background checks, something that was not included in the version initially released.

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.