MSDF captain in secrets probe belonged to intelligence unit

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Defense Ministry

The Maritime Self-Defense Force captain suspected of deliberately leaking designated state secrets on national security belonged to an intelligence unit that deals with classified information, government sources said.

The unit as a matter of course does not provide information to outside parties, though the captain is suspected of having leaked designated secrets to a retired vice admiral who had served in key MSDF posts. The captain briefed the former MSDF officer on national security situations during a briefing held upon the request of the retired vice admiral.

According to the sources, the retired vice admiral contacted a senior defense officer several years ago, seeking information on the grounds that the retired vice admiral was presented with opportunities to give lectures. The request reached the captain in question, who briefed the retired vice admiral. Designated state secrets are believed to have divulged as part of the briefing.

Behind the suspected leak appears to be the circumstance that active officers find it difficult to keep their distance from retired officers.

The sources said there has been no trace of any classified information being provided to a third party.

An SDF police department is investigating the incident on suspicion of violation of the Law on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets. The Defense Ministry on Monday gave the captain a disciplinary discharge on the grounds of leaking designated secrets. The captain’s superior at the time and two others have been disciplined such as by being suspended from duty.

The designated secrets were defined by the law, which took effect in 2014. Information that would cause extreme harm in case of leakage and need to be classified as designated secrets are placed in four categories: matters concerning defense, diplomacy, prevention of specified harmful activities, and the prevention of terrorist activities.

In the Defense Ministry, information in areas such as cryptology, signal and image information, and performance of submarines, aircraft and sensors are designated as secrets.

Leakage of specially designated secrets is subject to criminal penalties, including prison terms of up to 10 years.