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Japan's peacekeeping cover-up scandal recalls WWII-era malady

Imperial Army ignored or downplayed inconvenient information in closing days of war

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GSDF members stand guard as their colleagues build protective barriers in the U.N. peacekeeping operations facility in Juba, South Sudan, last November.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force continues to be embroiled in a scandal, in which it covered up the existence of logs of its daily activities in United Nations-led peacekeeping operations in South Sudan. The logs indicate that fighting had flared up at the time the GSDF personnel were in the area, creating problems for the Japanese troops who are allowed to engage in peacekeeping operations only when a cease-fire is in place.

While all attention has been given to why the log was hidden, the real issue is why the GSDF did not immediately halt its mission and pull out its peacekeepers. The Japanese defense authorities knew what was happening, but apparently did not listen, or choose to change courses from established policy. Many see similarities with the former Imperial Japanese Army.

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