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. Japanese Police Raid Naval Centre Over Aegis Data Leak

Japanese Aegis destroyer.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) May 19, 2007
Japanese police and naval officials raided a training centre for seamen Saturday in connection with the leaking of secret information on the US-developed high-tech Aegis combat system. Investigators searched the facility in Hiroshima prefecture, where sailors are put through specialised training in gunnery and torpedo operations.

Earlier this year it emerged that authorities had questioned a 33-year-old petty officer for allegedly obtaining the confidential data on the Aegis system without authorisation.

The case has unfolded since the officer's Chinese wife was arrested in late January for a visa violation.

Investigators now suspect the Hiroshima training facility distributed the data as educational material, local media said.

The Aegis system has cutting-edge radar and can launch missiles at more than 10 targets at one time. The Japanese navy has five Aegis-equipped vessels.

The Maritime Self Defense Force said it was cooperating with the investigation.

"We are in no position to comment on the matter, with the investigation ongoing. We will continue to cooperate with the investigation and analyse the cause of the incident and ensure similar incidents will be prevented," said a navy spokesman, reading from a prepared statement.

Police have already confiscated computer equipment from the seaman's home containing data on the Aegis system and Aegis-equipped destroyers, local media said.

The petty officer could have violated a domestic law that protects information involving US forces stationed here, news reports said.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

earlier related report
Abe warns on security as Japan mulls defence
Tokyo (AFP) May 18, 2007 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned of a "dramatically more severe" security situation Friday as a panel of experts met to study how Tokyo can defend its allies without breaching its constitution.

The discussions by the panel of former officials and academics are part of Abe's drive to build a more assertive nation and reflect his desire to bolster military ties with the United States, Japan's main ally.

"The security environment surrounding our country is becoming dramatically more severe," Abe said at the start of the meeting.

"As prime minister, I have the responsibility of building a constructive security framework able to respond to events," said the premier, who is known for his hawkish views on North Korea.

The study panel is led by ex-ambassador to Washington Shunji Yanai and aims to draw up a report for Abe by the end of the year.

The current constitution, imposed by US occupiers after World War II, says Japan forever renounces the use of force to resolve international disputes.

Successive governments have interpreted the 1947 constitution as allowing the right only to self-defence in the strictest sense.

However, Japan has been gradually boosting its military despite frequent tension with Asian neighbours haunted by its past aggression, and took the landmark step of sending troops to Iraq.

Abe has vowed to rewrite the constitution and earlier this week parliament approved a bill outlining procedures for a referendum on the first revision of the text.

One theoretical case the panel will consider is whether Japan has the right to destroy a ballistic missile fired by North Korea at the United States.

The United States currently stations more than 40,000 troops in Japan and is obliged by treaty to protect the country from enemy attack. But unlike NATO in Europe, Japan is under no obligation to defend the United States.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Czech Battle To Convince Hostile Public Over US Missile Shield
Rokycany, Czech Republic (AFP) May 16, 2007
Facing fierce grassroots opposition and fear over US plans to extend its anti-missile shield to central Europe, the Czech government has a daunting task on its hands. Officials have set out to win over public opinion by embarking on an information campaign, meeting ardent protesters face-to-face at local meetings in areas near the site earmarked for an American tracking radar.

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