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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 May 21 - 27  > 3 ex-GSDF personnel talk candidly about the right of collective self-defense
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2014 May 21 - 27 [POLITICS]

3 ex-GSDF personnel talk candidly about the right of collective self-defense

May 25, 2014
Akahata Sunday edition

Even without being attacked, Japan could engage in war abroad. To that end, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is running headlong on the path to change the constitutional interpretation that past governments have maintained since the end of WWII. Three former personnel of the Ground Self-Defense Force shared their frank thoughts with Akahata on what an exercise of the right to collective self-defense will mean.


Izutsu Takao said he had been trained how to not kill enemies with one blow but to take control of the duration before they die in covert operational exercises in guerrilla warfare.

The 44-year-old retired sergeant said, “Would you go to war abroad when Japan was not under attack? Do you think you would be able to stay sane? No way. Dying for an operation which has nothing to do with defense of our country would be the same as dying like a dog.”

“No matter how the government glosses over it, the essence of collective self-defense is to kill or be killed,” said the man.

“Military action always takes into account the percentage of ‘sacrifices’ in every operation, and it would be professional soldiers who would be preserved because so much money and time are used to train them. If not enough people are willing to enlist in the SDF, the general public would be mobilized.”

Former-Sergeant 1st Class

Kanda Kanta, 45, said he had joined the SDF because he was moved by the fact that SDF rescue personnel worked hard in disaster relief operations. He remembers, in his welcome ceremony of new recruits, he made an oath “to comply with the Constitution and regulations of Japan and therefore to work in accordance with the public mandate”.

When overseas dispatches became a subject of controversy in Japan, he asked his senior colleagues, “If ordered, will you go?” Many answered, “No, I will run.” Kanda said, “I think they feel more pride in their rescue operations than in battle.”


Kato Yoshimi, 62, recollected that he had interviews with his subordinates to check if they would accept an assignment to join peacekeeping operations abroad in 1993.

“At that time, the dispatch was only to non-combat areas. Thinking of their families, I myself wanted nobody to go. I was agonizing about how I could make it up if the PKO cost their lives, but no one said ‘yes’ then.”

However, he accepts that things will change if Japan obtains the right to collective self-defense.

The ex-captain said, “They will be forced to be dispatched whether they like it or not. The present volunteer system cannot attract enough people to join the SDF. So, I’m worried of the possibility of a military-draft system to be unavoidably introduced someday.”
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