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SDF member fired over serial arson, vandalism cases in Kyoto Prefecture

The Ministry of Defense headquarters (Mainichi/Masahiro Ogawa)

MAIZURU, Kyoto -- The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) handed a leading seaman a dishonorable discharge on Jan. 12 for serial arson, vandalism and other reasons.

    The 21-year-old seaman is said to have set fire to clothes at a house and had repeatedly carried out theft. In the city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, there were several alleged serial arson cases in May 2020, and the city's fire department and the Maizuru Police Department beefed up patrols at night, distributing leaflets to residents urging precautions against arson.

    According to the MSDF's Maizuru District Headquarters and the police department, the seaman allegedly set fire to clothes hung under the eaves of a private house in the Kitasui district of the city at around 3 a.m. on May 9 last year, and they also set fire to a poster on the wall of a nearby underground street five minutes later. Furthermore, they burned ads posted in a mailbox of another house in the Hama district at around midnight on May 18.

    As the seaman had not set fire to any buildings and no one had been injured in the incidents, Maizuru police merely sent prosecutors the officer's files in October of last year. During the MSDF's investigation, the seaman reportedly said, "I did those acts to relieve stress from work."

    The MSDF said that in addition to those three cases, there were eight incidents including one in which the seaman stole their colleague's helmet and another in which they slashed the seat of a colleague's bicycle with scissors.

    Vice Admiral of the MSDF's Maizuru District Headquarters, Hiroshi Ito, released a statement saying, "We are sorry for troubling and worrying the citizens of Maizuru. We take this matter seriously, and will be careful so that this kind of incident will never happen again."

    (Japanese original by Toshio Shioda, Maizuru Bureau)

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