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SDF officer rants against opposition lawmaker on street

Democratic Party lawmaker Hiroyuki Konishi (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A senior Self-Defense Forces officer lashed out at an opposition party lawmaker whom he encountered on a street Monday night, repeatedly saying, "You are an enemy of the people," according to the lawmaker.

The lawmaker, Hiroyuki Konishi of the Democratic Party, has been grilling the Defense Ministry at the Diet recently over its improper handling of activity logs of a past SDF mission in Iraq. Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, the top uniformed officer in the SDF, on Tuesday apologized to Konishi.

According to the ministry, the SDF officer in question is a major in his 30s and belongs to the Joint Staff office's command and communications system department.

The officer told the ministry that he came across Konishi, a House of Councillors member, near the Diet building at around 9 p.m. Monday while he was jogging.

"The case makes me shiver. It is a problem in terms of the civilian control over the SDF," Konishi said, demanding the resignation of Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Kawano to take responsibility over the matter.

Yuichiro Tamaki, who leads another opposition party, the Party of Hope, joined the criticism, saying, "It has gone too far. I cannot help but doubt whether the SDF, which are armed forces, are properly controlled."

Tamaki said he will take up the issue at the Diet, possibly posing another headache to the government, which is already struggling with cronyism and coverup allegations.

The Defense Ministry has recently been facing coverup accusations regarding the activity logs on the Iraq mission more than 10 years ago. The existence of the logs was announced earlier in the month despite the ministry having said last year that they had not been retained.

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