Former MOD and JSDF officials employed at companies involved in Henoko base construction

Former MOD and JSDF officials employed at companies involved in Henoko base construction

January 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

During the roughly two years between December 2013 and the end of November 2015, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) has entered into contracts with sixty-five companies to carry out construction and other works related to the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko. It has come to light that at least fourteen of these companies employ former officials of the MOD and/or the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). This was revealed by defense minister Gen Nakatani at a meeting of the Upper House Audit Committee in response to a question posed by Social Democratic Party member Seiji Mataichi. According to MOD officials, however, the fourteen companies revealed in Nakatani’s statement only include the companies at which former government and military officials were hired within two years after retiring from their public positions, so the actual number of companies employing former officials is likely even higher.

According to Nakatani’s statement, between December 2013 and November 2015, the MOD entered into contracts with sixty-five companies for a total of ninety-two works, adding up to a total of around 69.7 billion yen. Around 80 percent of the contracts were won through an open bidding process, while the remaining 20 percent were private contracts involving no bidding process. Nakatani claimed that “the construction contracts were made fairly in accordance with relevant regulations, regardless of the former status of the companies’ employees.”

MOD regulations stipulate that when a former MOD official is hired by a private company within two years of retirement, the MOD must carry out a special screening in order to avoid issues of pork-barrel politics. MOD records of these screenings show that over the past ten years, former officials have been re-hired at fourteen private companies within two years of retirement. However, the MOD has no duty to report the employment of a former official at a private company if it occurs more than two years after his or her retirement from the Ministry, and declines to do so.
The Ryukyu Shimpo’s investigations have found that of the corporations and foundations contracted to do work on the Henoko base construction, even more than the recently revealed fourteen companies employ former MOD and JSDF officials. These officials often claim that the company placed them in advisory and other executive positions due to the expert knowledge they acquired at the MOD.

In response to the Ryukyu Shimpo’s questioning, some companies have declined to clarify whether they employ former MOD or JSDF officials, citing privacy reasons. The relationship between companies’ employment of former defense officials and the Henoko relocation construction contracts remains opaque.

(English Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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