The identity of “Sengoku38,” the man responsible for leaking the video of a Chinese vessel ramming two coast guard ships in the Senkaku Islands, has been revealed after a coast guard officer admitted the act, saying he believes the people have a right to know the truth and could not be party to the government’s suppression of the video.
His eloquent account of his actions and dutiful act of self-sacrifice appears to have struck a resounding chord with many Japanese, and he is now more popular than ever, being lauded as a “true patriot.”
Sengoku38’s identity came to light when a 43-year-old Kobe coast guard officer reported to his superiors that he was responsible for releasing the video of the Senkaku Islands ramming incident, saying that that he, acting alone, used an Internet cafe PC to upload the videos to YouTube.
His actions in leaking the video are best described in some of his own words, as he has already been interviewed extensively:
“The people have a right to know.”
“The video is something the people should have known about from the start; if I have transgressed the people’s sense of morality then I am resigned to any punishment.”
“Had I not done this I thought the video would never have seen the light of day and been consigned to oblivion.”
“My job may be serving the state, but I am working for the good of the people.”
“I’d like each citizen to watch the video for themselves and come to their own conclusions about what happened.”
“Nobody else would do it, so I did. I’m prepared to face the consequences.”
“The impetus was hearing that of 44 minutes of footage, they cut it down and only showed 6 minutes to the politicians. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of them hiding everything, and trying to cover it all up as though nothing had happened.”
“I’m prepared to lose my job. I have a family but…” [he weeps]
“The coast guard wasn’t even treating the video as classified and anyone could get it.”
He is recalcitrant about revealing why he chose the name “Sengoku38”:
“There is the name of Cabinet Secretary Sengoku, and there is also the ‘sengoku jidai’ meaning of the nation being thrust into a conflict with hostile powers. I’ll keep the true meaning to myself.”
In fact there are a variety of subtle interpretations of the name based on various elements of wordplay, suggesting he perhaps wishes to preserve the element of ambiguity.
Online the reaction to Sengoku38’s statements has been one of adulation, with the man being hailed as a hero nobly sacrificing his career for the sake of the truth and public good, a “true patriot” showing “the spirit of the samurai” and a sign that “Japan is not finished after all,” etc., etc.
Offline it would appear the DPJ is finished – public opinion polls show approval ratings of the prime minister have dropped to a pathetic 15.1%, down from 22.6% slightly earlier in the scandal, with 81% finding the government’s foreign policy to be a shambles.
The government for its part has repeatedly vowed to bring as many charges against him as possible, the current contenders being unauthorised disclosure of state secrets and illegally accessing computer systems – charges Sengoku38’s remarks about the videos being readily available within the coast guard could make difficult to bring.
The Democratic Party is livid about the entire affair, with the Prime Minister apologising to the Japanese public for having allowed them to know things they should not have known:
“This is inexcusable to the people – information which should never have got out has been leaked, and I find it deeply regrettable.”
The Prime Minister went on to criticise the entire civil service for being “slack” and saying he would make sure they cleaned house. Other statements indicated they planned to hold the head of the coast guard responsible, but not the DPJ cabinet minister responsible for him.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku has vowed to bring the wicked leaker to justice all along, and the sight of a visible target seems to have agitated him even more:
“If this should be found to be criminal conduct, we must instigate criminal and administrative proceedings in proportion to the severity of the crime. We need an exhaustive investigation.”
He roundly condemned the many supporters of the leak, or rather, pretended they do not exist:
“I cannot think the vast majority of the people believe that. I firmly believe that whatever happened, the overwhelming majority of the people want us to take proper measures against him.”
This soon prompted derisive calls of “which country’s people?”
His refusal to countenance releasing the video and the leaker’s choice of handle are considered by many to be no coincidence, and the vehemence with which he has condemned the leak has prompted speculation that he is now pursuing a personal vendetta against the man who may have delivered the coup de grace to the DPJ government.
Just as China lionised its captain as a patriot, now it seems Japan has unwittingly gained a national hero of its own – one who stands for quite different principles to that of China.