Mon, Oct 29, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Fukuda urges better military discipline

AP , TOKYO

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda demanded greater discipline among Japanese defense officials and troops yesterday following a series of embarrassing revelations involving the Defense Ministry.

"It is truly deplorable that there have been problems concerning maintaining discipline and managing intelligence in recent years," Fukuda said.

"We need to maintain strict discipline," he said at a ceremony to celebrate the 57th anniversary of Japan's military.

Fukuda's comments came after the ministry admitted last week that officials had underreported the amount of fuel the navy supplied to a US-led coalition ship in the Indian Ocean, a blunder that could jeopardize efforts to renew the refueling mission.

Fukuda was also referring to a scandal involving former vice defense Minister Takemasa Moriya, who is under fire for cultivating cozy ties with a senior official of a Japanese defense equipment trading company despite a law banning defense officials from having contacts with stakeholders.

Moriya played golf with a former senior official of Yamada Corp about 140 times between 2001 and 2005 and paid only ?10,000 (US$87) each time in green fees while the remaining ?15,000 was paid for by the official, the Mainichi Shimbun reported yesterday. Defense Ministry officials were not available for comment yesterday.

Moriya was to be questioned in parliament today.

Meanwhile, Fukuda has been strongly pushing for a renewal of the refueling mission which expires on Thursday. But providing fodder for the mission's critics, the government acknowledged earlier this month that it had mistakenly reported providing 750,000 liters of fuel to a US warship when it had provided 3 million liters.

The Defense Ministry said in a report last Monday that officials were aware of the mistake back in 2003, but did not disclose it.

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