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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > Possibly because of war laws, young people shy away from joining SDF
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2019 March 13 - 19 [SDF]

Possibly because of war laws, young people shy away from joining SDF

March 18, 2019

The number of applicants for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces continues to decline, which has led to the aging of the organization. This may be because the SDF can now participate in wars abroad under the national security legislation (war laws), Akahata reported on March 18.

Defense Ministry data show that the number of applicants for non-fixed-term positions in the SDF decreased to 29,151 in 2017 from the previous 40,000 to 50,000 level. The number of people who applied for fixed-term positions began decreasing in 2012 and fell below the 30,000 level in 2015. In addition, this year, among 478 graduates from the National Defense Academy training SDF officer candidates, the number of those who refused to join the SDF hit a record high of 45, up 11 from the previous year.

As a result, the average age of SDF personnel rose to 35.6 in 2011 from 31.8 in 1990.

Specially-appointed professor of Meiji University Koketsu Atsushi cited the national security legislation as a major factor contributing to this situation along with Japan’s low birthrate. The professor explained that since the enactment of the controversial war laws, SDF duties, which used to be limited to defense only, have been revised to include military operations abroad. This has developed a fear of being sent to battle fields among young people who are in the target age groups for SDF recruitment.

Koketsu noted that the Abe government intends to press local governments to cooperate with SDF recruiting activities under a situation where the SDF is assuming more risky tasks while struggling with constant understaffing. He expressed his concern that there may be a move to introduce a military draft system.

Prime Minister Abe in the current ordinary session of the Diet made a remark that 60% of municipal governments across Japan are uncooperative toward SDF recruiting activities, but 90% provide some assistance to the SDF in recruiting. PM Abe’s stance to push forward with his ambition to revise Article 9 of the Constitution will keep more and more young people away from the SDF.

Past related articles:
> LDP to pressure local governments to cooperate in SDF recruiting activities [February 15, 2019]
> Abe’s Article 9 revision attempt aimed at forcing local gov’ts to provide young residents’ names to SDF: Shii [February 15, 2019]
> Defense Ministry creates war scenario estimating survival rate of SDF personnel at 30% [December 3, 2018]
> Number of new recruits to SDF continues to decline [December 17, 2016]
> Abe gov’t imposes unconstitutional new duties on SDF dispatched to South Sudan PKO [November 16, 2016]

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