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Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008

Axed ASDF chief hawk till the end; no apology


Staff writer

Sacked Air Self-Defense Force chief Gen. Toshio Tamogami defended his nationalist essay Monday, claiming his justification of the war Japan waged in the last century was intended to instill the country and its people with a sense of confidence.

In his first public appearance since being sacked over the essay Friday, Tamogami reiterated that Japan was not an aggressor nation and that the people have been misled by erroneous education.

"It is necessary to revise the view that Japan did wrong during the war, if it wishes to prosper as a nation in the 21st century," he said at a hastily called news conference in Tokyo.

Tamogami also touched on the 1995 war apology issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, saying the statement, now the government's official line on Japan's wartime responsibility, "needs verification."

Earlier in the day, Tamogami retired from the ASDF after 37 years in the Self-Defense Forces. His essay, which cost him his career, justified Japan's invasion of Asia.

Tamogami revealed he did not submit a resignation and his Defense Ministry-ordered retirement was "heartbreaking." He expressed fear that oppression to freedom of speech may intimidate younger service members from freely expressing their thoughts in the future.

"There are some people who share my views" in the SDF, he said, adding concern that a "North Korea-like" control over freedom of expression may diminish active discussions within the forces.

Tamogami, who lost his position and career within a span of 72 hours after his essay was released, was unapologetic at his 30-minute appearance.

Regarding the criticism of the essay by the Chinese and South Korean governments, he merely said he could "not control what others feel."

He expressed disappointment that the essay may influence some Diet proceedings, but agreed to state his opinion if summoned for testimony.

Asked about the future, Tamogami said he has not made up his mind. "I am just a regular civilian from today," he said.



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