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The Japanese Communist Party has made public copies of two documents it says were prepared by the Ground Self-Defense Force’s information security units during a period when grassroots opposition to the dispatch of the GSDF unit to Iraq was strong. The documents are said to show detailed surveillance of citizens, politicians, journalists, and civic and religious groups.

Since defense officials have not issued a clear denial of their existence, the 166-page documents appear to be authentic. The Diet should press the government over the constitutionality of the GSDF’s compiling detailed reports on citizens’ activities.

The first document, attributed to the Northeastern District Army’s information security unit, covers January and February 2004; the second, attributed to the GSDF’s information security headquarters, covers November 2003 through February 2004. They list the names of 289 individuals, including local assembly members, and groups in 41 prefectures involved in events opposing the GSDF dispatch to Iraq.

Journalists listed by the documents include reporters of the Asahi Shimbun, Akita Sakigake and Fukushima Minpo newspapers and the Tohoku Hoso and TV U Fukushima broadcast stations, plus a freelance reporter who was in Iraq.

The documents list the dates and places of demonstrations and rallies, their purpose, groups involved and their sizes. They also classify groups with code names — “P” for JCP-affiliated groups, “S” for groups affiliated with the Social Democratic Party, “GL” for groups affiliated with the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Trade Union Confederation, and “NL” for extreme leftist groups. They even report on civic movements related to pension, tax and health-care issues.

Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma indicates the GSDF information security units will continue to gather information on citizens’ activities at public events. This will have the effect of intimidating citizens in their exercise of the right to freedom of thought, speech and expression. At the very least, the government must disclose the total picture of the units’ surveillance of citizens.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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