The Kanagawa Prefectural Police and Maritime Self-Defense Force police jointly raided MSDF bases in Kyoto and Yamaguchi prefectures Tuesday in connection with the leak of classified data on the Aegis defense system, investigative sources said.
A joint Kanagawa-MSDF unit conducted the searches of Iwakuni Air Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture and the Maizuru Training Center in Kyoto, they said.
The bases are home to several MSDF officers and enlisted personnel believed to have played a role in leaking secrets pertaining to Japanese-U.S. security arrangements.
The investigators also plan to search the homes and other locations related to MSDF personnel who were former trainees at the First Service School in Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture, the sources said. The school is suspected to be at the center of the leak.
About 300 people have already been questioned, including those who have worked at a program unit in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and instructors and trainees at the Etajima training school.
The program unit reportedly formulated material, including the classified data, sometime after 1998 to train senior MSDF officers dealing with advanced air defense systems on Aegis ships.
The data are believed to have been leaked via instructors at the service school and then spread among other MSDF members.
The joint team searched the school May 19 on suspicion some of its personnel may have violated the 1954 Law Concerning the Protection of Secrets for the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement.
The investigators have largely located the routes of the leak but decided to probe the officers because those who have been interviewed have given different stories, according to the sources.
The leak prompted the United States to lodge a strong protest with the MSDF over its lax management of intelligence.
The MSDF police plan to question on a voluntary basis a former school instructor currently in the Indian Ocean as part of the mission to support U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan.
The initial case came to light in March after police found that a petty officer 2nd class had stored material containing secret Aegis data, including an educational program, on hard disks discovered at his home in Yokosuka.
The petty officer, who is a member of the MSDF destroyer Shirane’s crew, told investigators he obtained the data from a 33-year-old petty officer 3rd class, prompting them to raid that man’s house in April.
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