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Saturday, August 25, 2007 4:33 pm

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Yuriko Koike on a Japanese destroyer in 2007.

Photo: (c) Office of Koike Yuriko

Koike decides to leave post, cites responsibility over information leak

Defense Minister Yuriko Koike announced Friday she does not seek to keep her post when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet reshuffle is carried out on Monday, Japanese media reports.

Koike, who is still on a state visit to India, told reporters who had accompanied her to New Delhi that she wanted to “pass on the baton,” and to take the responsibility for a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) leak on highly confidential information on US-designed Aegis destroyers. This leak occured months before Koike was appointed Defense Minister in July, but Koike commented, “No one in the Defense Ministry has really taken responsibility (for the leak). I want to do so.” Koike told reporters she had already informed the Prime Minister of her decision.

The information leak was one of the reasons cited by Koike when she recently attempted to replace her Vice Minister Takemasa Moriya with a former police agency officer, a move that was cut short by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, because Koike had failed to inform him in advance of the personnel change, as regulations call for. This led to a highly publicized showdown between the two, which brought about speculations that Koike’s would not survive Abe’s next week Cabinet reshuffle.

Koike said she was hoping for the Prime Minister to chose a successor who would be able to rejuvenate the Defense Ministry and carry out the extension of the antiterrorism law, which would allow the MSDF to dispatch its vessels to the Indian Ocean in NATO-led operations in and near Afghanistan.

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