The arrest of former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya on suspicion of bribery has greatly damaged people’s trust in the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces, as Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said. The government needs to tighten discipline among bureaucrats. It also needs to overhaul the ministry’s system for procuring defense equipment so that a hotbed of corruption is eliminated. A substantial amount of equipment is purchased through free contracts with trading houses, and in many cases, the ministry cannot verify their estimates.

Mr. Moriya served as the top bureaucrat of the Defense Agency and the ministry from August 2003 to August 2007. Since he played an important role in working out plans for realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including the plan for Okinawa, and in upgrading the agency to ministry status, the blow to the ministry and the government is all the more greater.

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