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2008年11月 9日 (日)


(Mainichi Japan) November 8, 2008

Gov't needs to assume responsibility for ASDF chief of staff's behavior

社説:前空幕長問題 政府の責任を明らかにせよ

It turns out that 95 Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) officers participated in the controversial essay contest run by a private corporation that led to the ouster of the air chief of staff. The winner of the contest, Toshio Tamogami, has been removed from his post as chief of staff of the ASDF because he wrote in his essay that to claim that Japan was an aggressor in World War II is a false accusation. A total of 235 essays were entered in the contest, so submissions by active-duty officers accounted for about 40 percent of them.


The Air Staff Office's education section had faxed guidelines for entering the essay contest to all ASDF units nationwide. Among the officers who submitted essays were at least 10 senior officers including a colonel, and more than 60 of the officers were assigned to the Sixth Air Wing, headquartered at Komatsu Air Base, which had been under Tamogami's command.


Tamogami said that he introduced the contest to the officers but did not order them to write essays for it. As the top officer of the ASDF and their former commander, however, did his distribution of information about the contest constitute de facto pressure to participate?


The Defense Ministry said it would confirm whether the essays that were submitted to the contest contained problematic content. But taking this step alone will not suffice. Prime Minister Taro Aso and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada have a responsibility to clear up the following questions: What role did Tamogami play in prompting the submission of numerous essays written by ASDF officers to the contest? And what was the nature of the education section's dissemination of the contest guidelines (which could be construed as evidence of organizational involvement)?


What is incomprehensible is the judgment exercised by the government in its handling of Tamogami once the content of his essay had been disclosed.


In violation of an internal regulation, Tamogami had merely verbally described his essay's content to the head of the Defense Minister's secretariat and did not provide anything in writing. Furthermore, since Tamogami's essay legitimizes Japanese colonial rule in the prewar era and Japan's aggression during the war, it directly contradicts the government's position and is also critical of the government's view that exercising the right of collective self-defense would be a violation of the Constitution.


After Tamogami spurned the defense minister's recommendation that he tender his resignation, the Defense Ministry considered firing him. However, since Tamogami indicated that he would request an internal hearing, the Defense Ministry reportedly calculated that such a procedure would "take time, and would require continued payment of (Tamogami's) salary," so it decided to allow him to retire at the mandatory retirement age.


But Tamogami's retirement has created a peculiar situation. While the defense minister and administrative vice defense minister have been punished for this affair, Tamogami himself has escaped punishment, and will be allowed to receive full retirement benefits. There are suspicions that he was allowed to retire in order to draw the curtain on this affair quickly so that it would not pose an obstacle to deliberations on the amendment to the new anti-terror law.


Tamogami was the superintendent of the Self Defense Forces Joint Staff College, which is a school for high-ranking officers. He had made his views about war responsibility and national security known in the past. It will be necessary to clarify whether the teaching that went on at the staff college contradicted the government's positions and policies.


The main question that must be asked is: Why is it that a person who has a distorted view of history and rejects the government's position is able to rise to the top of the ASDF? After becoming chief of staff, Tamogami had submitted an article to an internal ASDF journal whose content was similar to the essay that he submitted to the contest. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Kometio bear a heavy responsibility for appointing him head of the ASDF. We are waiting to hear Prime Minister Aso's views on this affair.


毎日新聞 2008117日 東京朝刊


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