Officers with the Gifu Prefectural Police leaked personal information to a Chubu Electric Power Co. subsidiary about residents and others opposed to a plan to construct wind turbines in their neighborhood.
Their actions could constitute a violation of the Local Public Service Law that imposes confidentiality obligations on local government employees.
Nagoya-based C-Tech Corp. plans to construct 16 wind turbines in the Kamiishizu-cho district of Ogaki and the neighboring town of Sekigahara capable of generating a maximum of 48,000 kilowatts of electricity. It is now in the process of drawing up environmental impact assessments.
However, in February, 46 households in the Kamikajiya area of Kamiishizu-cho adopted a resolution opposing the turbines, fearing landslides at the time of construction and the so-called wind turbine syndrome, in which the low-frequency inaudible humming of wind turbines causes headaches and fatigue.
Officers of the Ogaki Police Station leaked to C-Tech personal information not only about residents opposed to the construction, but also on a citizen activist and members of a law firm that are not associated with the opposition movement.
The officers told C-Tech that residents might cooperate with the activist and the law firm members.
The officers leaked personal information of six individuals, including their past activities, academic careers and histories of diseases.
The Asahi Shimbun obtained documents containing minutes of meetings between officers of the Ogaki Police Station and members of a group of C-Tech’s wind power generation division. The group is in charge of dealing with local residents. The minutes, compiled by the group, were dated Aug. 7, 2013; Feb. 4, 2014; May 26, 2014; and June 30, 2014.
According to the minutes dated Aug. 7, 2013, Chubu Electric told C-Tech that the “Ogaki Police Station needs information on the outline of the project (to construct wind power generation facilities).”
An officer at the police station subsequently told the C-Tech group that “some of the residents (against the construction) are people who are opposed to any acts that try to change the natural environment.”
The officers expressed concern that the residents would cooperate with a citizen activist, 65-year-old Yuriko Kondo, and the Gifu Collabo law firm. Kondo, living in Ogaki, has been a vocal opponent of dam construction. The law firm is also located in Ogaki.
The officers requested a mutual sharing of information with C-Tech, saying, “If the residents’ opposition develops to a big-scale citizens’ movement, the project (to construct the wind power generation facilities) will not make progress. We want to maintain a peaceful Ogaki city.”
The police added, “Kondo is over 60 years old and she is a dropout of the University of Tokyo.”
In the minutes dated May 26, 2014, the police told C-Tech the name of the head of the secretariat for Gifu Collabo.
“(But) the head of the secretariat is currently sick,” an officer said. “So it will be difficult to take action.”
In the minutes dated Feb. 4, 2014, a police officer said, “One of the residents (opposed to the construction of the turbines) became a leading member of a support group of Gifu Collabo.”
In the minutes dated June 30, 2014, an officer said, “We fear the residents could gather from throughout the country anti-nuclear people or those who are opposed to destruction of the natural environment.”
Tadao Minowa, 65, chairman of the association of the Kamikajiya area, who is against the turbine construction, told The Asahi Shimbun, “Using tax money, police are keeping a watch on residents and are leaking information (about them) to a company.”
With regard to the personal information C-Tech received from the Ogaki Police Station, Hiroshi Kato, an official of the company, simply said, “It is better for us to know various things.”
Yasuhiro Makimura, vice director of the Ogaki Police Station, said, “In some cases, we gather information for security and share them with third-parties.”
According to Kiyoshi Yasutomi, guest professor of law at Kyoto Sangyo University’s graduate school, the actions of the officers of the Ogaki Police Station very likely breached the Local Public Service Law.
“Police must not leak personal information they have obtained,” Yasutomi said. “In the case (of the Ogaki Police Station), police leaked information with the purpose of benefiting the activities of a company. It is a problem.”
(This article was written by Tomoaki Ito, a senior staff writer, and Gento Shibui.)
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