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Okinawa Defense Bureau chief to be admonished

Date Posted: 2012-05-04

The Japanese Defense Ministry plans to admonish Okinawa Defense Bureau Chief Ro Manabe for his call to bureau staff to vote in a local mayoral election.

Sources say, though, the Japanese Defense Ministry will stop short of issuing any disciplinary action on the basis of the Self-Defense Forces law against Manabe, adding it intends to replace him as part of a routine personnel rotation this summer instead of removing him immediately. Manabe ordered his staff to compile lists of bureau personnel who live in Ginowan City, the host city of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, before its mayoral election.

Before the election was announced, on January 23rd and 24th, Manabe assembled the personnel under the pretense of a "lecture." After outlining the two candidates' positions on the relocation of the Futenma to the Henoko district of northern Okinawa, he called on the audience to vote. The ministry has regarded the listing of employees as a problem in the handling of personal information.

The ministry says, however, that an internal investigation revealed no illegal behavior by Manabe in conflict with the public offices election law, which forbids civil servants from using their positions, or the SDF law, which restricts political actions by SDF personnel.
The ministry's directive says that admonishments are issued for "minor disciplinary incidents," but a light reprimand is likely to attract criticism from people in Okinawa.

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