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Defense Agency admits compiling list was illegal.

TOKYO, June 11 Kyodo


The Defense Agency on Tuesday released a report in which it admitted its officials acted illegally in compiling lists containing personal details about civilians who sought information from defense-related agencies.

Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani offered an apology for the scandal at a press conference held late Tuesday night, saying, ''I feel truly sorry for causing people anxiety and trouble.''

Nakatani denied rumors he will resign from his post over the scandal, and indicated he will reprimand or punish involved officials by the end of the week.

He also hinted the delay involved in releasing the full report was due to pressure from ruling parties, saying, ''I received opinions on the matter from various people.''

The report concluded that the compilation of the list by a 48-year-old lieutenant commander, which was the start of the scandal, was an illegal act exceeding boundaries stipulated by the law to protect computerized private information held by the government.

The officer was working in the information disclosure section of the Maritime Staff Office at the time.

The report also said it was extremely inappropriate for his superior -- the head of the information disclosure section -- to give him tacit approval to compile the list.

The lieutenant commander passed the list out to a total of nine officers on floppy disks or other means from April 2001 to March this year, according to the report.

The report determined that 14 people were involved in compiling, reading, and keeping the initial list.

Those who received the list from the lieutenant commander, however, did not violate the law, though their actions were nonetheless inappropriate, it said.

In addition to the lieutenant commander, two second lieutenants in the information disclosure section of the Air Staff Office who passed the list on to an intelligence unit of the Air Self-Defense Force are also guilty of breaking the law, the report said.

The agency published a four-page summary of the report earlier in the day, and later released the full 40-page document at the opposition bloc's demand.

Regarding the deletion of sections on individual information from the lists after the scandal was uncovered, the full report concluded it could give an impression there was a cover-up.

However, the sections were removed from the summary at the request of secretaries general of the three ruling parties, who were apparently concerned the sections could give the opposition bloc an advantage in the Diet on the issue.

The report stressed the agency was not trying to cover up the matter.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, a body under the ministry-level Defense Agency, also compiled a list similar to those allegedly kept by the Defense Agency.

A list was freely available until around March on the Defense Facilities Administration Agency's computer network, which about 180 officials have access to.

Referring to the revelation, the agency admitted in the report the illegality of the act, as posting the list on the network is not allowed under the law.

The agency also said it was inappropriate that reports to the Defense Agency chief were delayed and inaccurate.

It concluded the agency needs to show remorse for causing anxiety and suspicion among the public.

The revelation last month that the Defense Agency was compiling lists containing data on 141 individuals who had sought information under the information disclosure law caused a public uproar.

The lists included the names and addresses of applicants, and remarks about their perceived attitude toward the Self-Defense Forces.

The Defense Agency claimed in its first and interim in-house investigative reports on the issue that an official had compiled the list ''for his own use.''
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Jun 17, 2002
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