Friday, February 22, 2008
Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba has decided to dismiss Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) Chief of Staff Eiji Yoshikawa over failure to report a ship collision in time on Tuesday, Japanese media reported Friday. A MSDF destroyer equipped with the high-tech Aegis defense system collided with a fishing boat early Tuesday morning in waters off the coast of Chiba Prefecture, leading to the capsizing of the boat and missing of two crew members on it.
JMSDF Atago DDG-177It took more than 90 minutes for Ishiba to be notified of the accident. The slowness of the defense system's emergency communication has put the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces under fire. Opposition parties have called for the resignation of Ishiba. The Atago is the MSDF's latest-model Aegis destroyer which went into commission in March 2007. Its failure to detect a small ship nearby also prompted Japanese media to doubt the destroyer's capability in Japan's planned joint construction of an anti-ballistic missile shield with the United States.