The Japanese government is struggling to defend reports that its Defense Minister Tomomi Inada concealed information on the war situation in South Sudan and risking the life of its troops.
The defense ministry had reportedly concealed activity logs of the Ground Self Defense Forces in South Sudan claiming they were lost. Upon retrieval, logs suggested that government advised troops not to be drawn into the “sudden fighting”.
“(Tomomi) Inada has said no such event took place” as reported, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference in defense of the country’s defense minister.
A local media agency reported that Inada had a key role in the cover up citing government sources
Inada said the same day she neither authorized the concealment of the logs nor approved a plan to withhold the fact that they existed.
The Defense Ministry had said the Ground Self-Defense Force had discarded the logs recorded by its members taking part in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the war-torn country.
Digital data from the logs were later found, but top officials decided at a meeting on Feb. 15 they would not uncover this fact, with Inada agreeing to the concealment, according to the sources.
Tetsuo Kuroe, the ministry’s top bureaucrat, said Wednesday he had no recollection of the meeting that reportedly took place in February, saying he did not believe Inada had given such approval.
The Inspector General’s Office of Legal Compliance under the direct control of the defense minister is currently looking into whether the ministry intentionally concealed the activity logs. The outcome is expected to be unveiled in the near future.
Under Japanese law, a “fighting” situation would mean that Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) troops deployed on U.N. peacekeeping missions be repatriated.
The last Japanese troops withdrew from a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in May.