July 17, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
(Tokyo) It recently came to light that during the ten years leading up to the end of fiscal 2018, seven Ministry of Defense (MOD) personnel, upon retiring from the MOD, landed high-ranking jobs at three construction consulting firms that were involved in putting together a survey report regarding ground improvement operations to reinforce the weak sea-floor in order to build a new U.S. military base in Henoko, Nago as part of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
It was previously known that MOD personnel moved to high-ranking positions at companies contracted to perform work in Henoko as early as the stage where an environmental impact assessment was being conducted prior to the start of construction.
It is evident that former MOD personnel are still being positioned at these companies to give their stamp of approval to projects that the MOD wishes to advance.
The survey report regarding sea-floor reinforcement was compiled in January of this year by a joint venture comprising seven companies, which was contracted by the MOD.
The report states that “it is possible to ensure stability” using known engineering methods for the sea-floor reinforcement, and concludes that it will be possible to conduct the work without exceeding the originally anticipated scope of environmental impact with regard to noise, water sedimentation, dugong conditions and the like.
Of the seven companies involved in the joint venture, the three at which former MOD personnel took jobs are Nippon Koei (four former personnel), Fukken Engineering (two personnel), and Idea (one personnel), all of which have their main offices in Tokyo.
In addition to the current job regarding sea-floor reinforcement, the three companies have been frequented by the MOD with contracts for other Henoko-related consulting work.
According to the MOD, it has contracted the three companies a totally of 34 times between fiscal 2012-2018, for a total of roughly 1.12 billion yen.
Under the Self-Defense Forces Law, if someone working at the MOD gets hired at a for-profit company within two years of leaving the ministry, it must be reported, but there is no duty to report if more than two years have passed.
Apparently reporting was conducted in accordance with the rule when the seven were hired at the three companies.
At a press conference on July 16, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, “[the hiring] was performed appropriately in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.”
It was revealed in January 2016 that former MOD and SDF personnel, upon retiring, were re-hired at at least 14 of the 65 companies contracted by the MOD under former Defense Minister Gen Nakatani for jobs relating to the Henoko construction during the roughly two-year period from December 2013 to November 2015.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
July 17, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo