Japan's premier orders improvements at Defence Ministry after crash

Other News Materials 22 February 2008 07:45 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Japan's premier ordered the Defence Ministry to shape up Friday amid mounting criticism over a collision between a destroyer and fishing boat.

After Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda ordered reforms, the ministry opened an in-house task force staffed with nine Self-Defense Forces officers and six senior bureaucrats as key members, the Kyodo News Agency quoted Defence Ministry Shigeru Ishiba as saying.

"I think organizational problems were behind" the accident and the handling of it and "we must review the organization fundamentally," Fukuda told cabinet members.

A 7,700-ton Aegis battleship collided with a 7.3-ton fishing boat Tuesday in the Pacific off the coast of central Japan, and two fishermen went missing.

It was the first major accident involving a Maritime Self-Defence Force vessel and a civilian ship since a submarine and a fishing boat collided in Tokyo Bay in 1988, killing 30 people.

Ishiba was also expected to dismiss the military's chief of staff for failing to immediately distribute information concerning the collision, Kyodo said.

The defence minister said he would work to create a ministry that could act quickly and appropriately in response to crises.