November 1, 2007 / 8:21 AM / 12 years ago

Japan may track defense officials with GPS phones

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s government wants to use mobile phones with global positioning systems (GPS) — often used by parents to keep track of children — to keep tabs on senior defense officials, prompting ire from some of the bureaucrats.

The idea was raised after the former No.2 at the defense ministry admitted this week that he had been treated to hundreds of expensive rounds of golf by a defense contractor.

defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba said he wanted to prevent a rerun of the scandal by keeping track of officials’ whereabouts, but the plan has sparked a volley of protest.

“We’re not children,” the Sankei Shimbun daily quoted one unidentified official as saying.

“They are ignoring our privacy,” another anonymous bureaucrat told the paper.

The mobile phones would only be issued to senior staff required to report for duty in the case of a security emergency, the newspaper said. “The defense Ministry has responsibility for the country’s independence and peace,” defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba told reporters when asked about the complaints by ministry staff.

“If they are saying their privacy is more important, that’s fine. They should say so publicly,” he said.

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