Photo/IllutrationA short video shows Ground Self-Defense Force members involved in a search in the vicinity of their base camp in Juba, South Sudan, in July 2016. (Provided by Yujin Fuse)

A search mission by members of the Self-Defense Forces is proving successful. They have found additional records--including a video of their work in South Sudan--that had been described as nonexistent.

The Defense Ministry admitted to possessing the video and documents about the SDF’s dispatches to South Sudan and Nepal to freelance journalist Yujin Fuse.

In December 2016, Fuse submitted an information disclosure request regarding video images taken by the Ground SDF during its dispatch to the African country for a U.N. peacekeeping operation.

In September 2017, the Defense Ministry released a number of still photos but said that no videos existed.

Dissatisfied with that result, Fuse submitted another request for video images and included much more specific conditions, such as the situation in which the videos were taken.

According to Fuse, Defense Ministry officials contacted him in February and said additional records would be released. As a first step, a three-second video was given to Fuse, and ministry officials said the remainder would be revealed by December.

The ministry had ordered all GSDF units to search for daily logs related to the South Sudan deployment. Government officials had earlier insisted that such logs did not exist, but in early April, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera apologized and said the documents had been found.

Onodera also acknowledged the existence of SDF logs compiled during the rebuilding mission in Iraq from January 2004 to September 2006.

Defense Ministry officials said the initial search for the South Sudan video images was insufficient.

However, critics say the ministry tried to cover up the situations in both South Sudan and Iraq because of potential violations of the conditions set for the SDF dispatches.

“This is an extremely valuable record for evaluating PKO missions,” Fuse said about the ministry’s initial denial of the existence of the video. “A judgment might have been made that it would be difficult to reveal graphic information in light of the government contention that the regions to which the GSDF was dispatched were not dangerous.”

The video shows GSDF members checking the situation around their base camp in the South Sudan capital of Juba on July 14, 2016, a period of heavy fighting.

A subtitle indicates that all members of a unit were involved in the search around the camp.

Defense Ministry officials also said they would soon release records to Fuse related to the deployment of SDF units for a U.N. mission in Nepal in 2007.

The ministry initially said those records also did not exist, but it informed Fuse on May 9 that a decision had been made to release the documents.