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The Kanagawa Prefectural Police and investigators from the Maritime Self-Defense Force searched an MSDF training school Saturday in hopes of getting to the bottom of a security leak involving the Aegis defense system.

Since the case came to light in March, the United States has expressed concern about Japan’s information control at a time the two nations have been working to accelerate integration of their defense operations, especially the missile defense system using Aegis-equipped naval vessels at its core.

Reflecting how seriously Tokyo is taking the case, the raid was the first carried out at a Self-Defense Forces facility on suspicion of violating a 1954 law on defense secrets.

The prefectural and MSDF police believe the First Service School in Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture, was center stage in the case, in which material based on classified Aegis data was formulated and circulated, ending up in the hands of various MSDF members.

In the raid that started around 8 a.m., about 50 investigators seized personal computers, storage devices, administrative registers and other materials.

Though the police have already interviewed, on a voluntary basis, the school’s instructors and several hundred MSDF personnel in attendance there, they found it necessary to conduct the search due to inconsistent statements.

The case came to light in March after the police found a 33-year-old petty officer 2nd class in possession of and hiding material containing the classified Aegis data on hard disks confiscated from his home in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. He said he obtained them from a 30-year-old petty officer 3rd class.

The two petty officers are crew members of destroyers belonging to the 1st Escort Flotilla based in Yokosuka.

Police began MSDF officers and enlisted personnel. According to the investigation so far, the material was originally compiled by a unit at the Yokosuka base to provide an education program for senior MSDF members handling high-level air defense.

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