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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 30 - August 12  > Ex-Japanese soldier opposes Japan’s use of collective self-defense right
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2014 July 30 - August 12 [POLITICS]

Ex-Japanese soldier opposes Japan’s use of collective self-defense right

July 31, 2014
Goto Toyo, 89, living in Sendai City, is a leader of a group of plaintiffs who demand that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces intelligence unit stop monitoring the general public. What continues to drive Goto to be involved in movements for peace and democracy is his detestable memory 69 years ago.

During World War II, Goto worked for the Japanese National Railways. In February 1945, about half a year before the war ended, he was drafted into an army infantry company in Sendai at the age of 19. In the military, senior officers often gathered fresh recruits together without warning and repeatedly beat and kicked them under some pretext or other.

“Military officials tried to accustom us to be beaten so as to turn us into ‘slaves’ who would easily be willing to accept death,” Goto said.

Every day, young recruits were trained to hide in a trench with a dummy bomb on their back and then hurl themselves against an approaching tank. “Due to the shortage of arms, it became natural for us to rush into enemies as a ‘human bomb’,” he reflected.

Almost all of his fellows in the same corps were dispatched to the southern front and never came back. Goto said that even now he vividly remembers when they left for the front.

“They carried just a mess kit and a canteen. There were no guns and only a bayonet for every seven to eight soldiers. The commander stated that he would provide ammunition to them after they arrived at the field, but I knew it was an outright lie. To the military, soldiers’ lives were cheap as dirt. The power elite uses and discards the lives of soldiers to serve its self-interests. This is the reality of war.”

Fortunately, the war ended before Goto was sent to battle. Going through many hardships in the aftermath of the war, he developed his business of a photo studio. He now serves as the chairman of one of the largest studios in the Tohoku region.

When the government was planning to dispatch SDF troops to Iraq in 2003, Goto published his opinion piece in a local paper in order to oppose the plan. “At first, I hesitated about whether to remark on that issue as I am a businessman. Thinking about my old friends killed in the war, however, I had no choice but to take action,” he said.

After that, the SDF put the business owner on its blacklist and has been monitoring his every move.

Goto criticized the Abe Cabinet for deciding to allow Japan to use the right to collective self-defense, stressing, “War is the most terrible thing imaginable. Once a war begins, it can escalate and drag on endlessly. I will never tolerate the administration going down the road to war again without reflecting on its past war of aggression.”

Past related articles:
> Stop SDF’s illegal monitoring of the public [March 28, 2012]
> Parents of SDF personnel oppose Abe’s decision on collective self-defense right [July 3, 2014]
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