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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 2 - 8  > SDF approach to high school students just after Cabinet decision on collective self-defense stokes public fears
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2014 July 2 - 8 TOP3 [POLITICS]

SDF approach to high school students just after Cabinet decision on collective self-defense stokes public fears

July 5, 2014
As if moving in step with the Abe Cabinet decision allowing Japan’s participation in collective self-defense, recruitment letters from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces have reached families with high school students, increasing public anger and concerns.

The SDF insists that its recruitment campaign usually begins at this time of the year. However, since the start of the campaign overlapped with the Cabinet decision, the matter has become a hot topic in social media. Young people who received the letter from the SDF tweeted, “It’s the current version of a ‘red slip’ (the draft notice used in Japan during WWII)” and “No wars!”

On July 2, the day after the Cabinet decision, the Defense Ministry launched its recruitment drive through a TV commercial featuring Japan’s most well-known music idol girl group. In addition to this, taking advantage of various opportunities, the SDF is trying to approach young people by pretending to be hip, especially high school students.

In Hokkaido, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker in an assembly session last year stated that all schools in the prefecture should invite SDF staff to explain about their duties to the nation to students. Following this session, the prefectural education commission sent to all public schools a note calling on them to cooperate with the SDF in its public relations activities. The Hyogo Prefectural government decided to include an SDF base in the on-the-job experience program for junior high school students aged between 13 and 14.

These SDF recruitment activities may be in violation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict which the Japanese government ratified in August 2004.

This protocol was established to ensure that children below the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities. The protocol states that voluntary recruitment of children aged 15 and over into a national armed force should be carried out with the “informed consent” of the child’s parents. It also requires that those children should be “fully informed of duties involved in such military services.”

Ease of access by the SDF to young people for the purpose of recruitment is unacceptable in the light of the protocol.
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