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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006

SDF to get random drug testing: agency


Staff writer

The Defense Agency will conduct urine tests on Self-Defense Forces members in the wake of several narcotics busts since July, according to an internal report submitted to the agency director general Wednesday.

The agency will randomly test SDF personnel with their consent, an agency official said, adding that members will not be forced to take the test if they refuse.

An agency panel on drug abuse in the SDF wrote the report and gave it to Director General Fukushiro Nukaga.

The agency will begin the testing with the Maritime Self-Defense Force, where 11 members have been arrested in drug-related cases, as early as this summer.

The agency hopes to introduce drug testing in the Ground Self-Defense Force and Air Self-Defense Force by the end of fiscal 2006.

Since 2002, people have been required to undergo drug screening when they join the SDF, but they are not tested during their service.

There have been 17 SDF members arrested since July in connection with cases involving the manufacture, sale or use of illegal drugs, including cannabis.

In most cases, the people arrested had been offered drugs by colleagues or superiors and tried them out of curiosity, the report says.

None of the arrested MSDF members used drugs immediately before or during their shipboard tours, although one has admitted using them while on duty, it says.

Toshiyuki Shikata, a professor of military affairs at Teikyo University, welcomed the move, saying SDF members should be subjected to stricter rules than civilians because they handle weapons and are entrusted with other people's lives.

On the decision not to force SDF members to take the drug tests, Shikata said ranking officers should take the initiative and educate their charges on the importance of taking the urine tests so they do not refuse.

Nabbed sergeant cut

SENDAI (Kyodo) A Ground Self-Defense Force sergeant was discharged Wednesday, following his arrest on suspicion of carrying out obscene acts involving a junior high school girl in December, the GSDF's Northeastern Army said.

Police alleged that Yasunori Ito, 25, threatened the girl with a knife on the afternoon of Dec. 13 as she was on her way home in Takajo, Miyagi Prefecture. He allegedly forced her to take off clothing and photographed her.

He has confessed to the act and to more than 10 similar crimes in Sendai and Takajo, according to police.



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