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Draft inspection report makes no mention of Inada being informed of peacekeeper logs

GSDF Chief of Staff Toshiya Okabe responds to questions during a news conference at the Defense Ministry on July 20, 2017. (Mainichi)

Draft findings from a special Defense Ministry inspection do not mention that senior officials told Defense Minister Tomomi Inada about the existence of daily activity logs of Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) peacekeepers stationed in South Sudan, even though they did, in fact, inform the defense chief that the reports were being kept at the GSDF, sources close to the government said.

Inada denies that she approved of concealing digital copies of the logs and has stressed that she understood the data had been discarded. However, a report from the GSDF to the Defense Ministry's Inspector General's Office of Legal Compliance allegedly says Inada was informed of the logs' existence.

According to the draft results of the special inspection, which was launched on March 17, the Defense Ministry decided on Dec. 2, 2016 not to disclose the daily logs of troops in South Sudan in response to an information disclosure request, and to state that the logs had been discarded. On Dec. 26, however, data of the daily logs was discovered at the Joint Staff. It also came to light that the logs had been stored within the GSDF as its members' "personal data."

On Jan. 27 this year, a bureaucrat at the Joint Staff who was informed of the facts by senior officials from the Ground Staff Office reported the existence of the data at the GDSF to Defense Ministry Administrative Vice Minister Tetsuro Kuroe, but only told Inada that the data was found at the Joint Staff.

The Defense Ministry released partly redacted versions of the logs on Feb. 7, stating that they had been kept at the Joint Staff. Eight days later, on Feb. 15, GSDF Chief of Staff Toshiya Okabe told Kuroe and other senior officials that reports kept as "personal data" were extant. However, Okabe and Kuroe reportedly decided to stick to the Defense Ministry's initial explanation that the daily logs had been scrapped by the GSDF because the redacted versions of the reports had already been released and therefore "there was no problem with regard to information disclosure."

At the same time, a source close to the government points out that Inada was present at meetings held on Feb. 15.

While the defense minister admitted to meeting with Okabe that day, she denied any involvement in the matter, saying, "I am not aware that there was a report about data being stored at the GSDF."

Meanwhile, a separate report compiled by the GSDF after the special inspection began allegedly lists a series of events including one in which Inada is informed of the matter.

Okabe told reporters on July 20 that he would not comment on Inada's involvement as the case is currently being investigated. He said, "I hope the truth comes out from the special inspection."

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