The 1st Air Self Defense Force Depot in Chiba is alleged to have rigged the bidding on office equipment and supplies for all 311 of its contracts issued between 2005 and 2009. The ASDF Chief of Staff, Shigeru Iwasaki Kenichiro Hokazono, was relieved of duty and 49 other officers were disciplined.

The Defense Ministry decided to replace ASDF Chief of Staff Kenichiro Hokazono, who was admonished over the case because of his supervisory responsibility, with Air Defense Commander Shigeru Iwasaki.

The First ASDF Depot in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, also diverted about 6 billion yen from separate budget items, such as aircraft repair expenses, for 216 of the contracts worth a total of 7.56 billion yen that it concluded between fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2008.

The ministry also took disciplinary action against 49 other ASDF officers, including the former head of the depot—an ASDF lieutenant general—who was suspended from office for 30 days. (Link)

The contracts went to companies that had accepted former Ministry of Defense and ASDF personnel. It’s difficult to imagine 49 officers conspiring in some attempt to rob the public, especially when there is no direct benefit. Assuming the best of intentions, the rigging may have been done to reward companies that employed the retirees. It’s difficult to start over again in Japan, especially in mid-life, and most especially from the Self-Defense Forces. This may have been some sort of under the table agreement to ensure early (by Japanese standards) retirees find work.

What is particularly unfortunate is that the rigging was financed in part by diverting funds away from readiness: aircraft repairs, communications expenses and logistics maintenance programs were all raided to help pay for it.

(Correction: Kenichiro Hokazono is ASDF Chief of Staff, Shigeru Iwasaki. Thanks to Peter Brown for the heads-up.)

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch