On July 28, then-Defense Minister Tomomi Inada announced her intent to resign, caving in after months of pressure over the apparent cover-up of logs detailing the worsening situation faced by Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan last year. But what is in those logs that might have made a top minister feel it was worth risking her career to keep them secret? A court case now taking place in Hokkaido may offer some answers.
The Ground Self-Defense Force's contentious five-year contribution to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan ended on May 27. The government denies that deteriorating security conditions in South Sudan were the reason for the withdrawal, and had no doubt hoped to draw a line under criticism of the mission with the return of the last 40 service members to Japan.
But one woman is determined to keep the issue alive. The woman in her 50s, who goes by the pseudonym Kazuko Taira (Peace Child), is fighting a case against the government at Sapporo District Court. A resident of the Hokkaido city of Chitose, her son belongs to the GSDF's Chitose-based 7th Division, members of which were deployed between last May and December to South Sudan for engineering work.