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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 July 8 - 14  > Abe’s war legislation will connect directly with battlefronts: ex-SDF members
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2015 July 8 - 14 [POLITICS]

Abe’s war legislation will connect directly with battlefronts: ex-SDF members

July 12, 2015
Young men who used to serve in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces warned in an Akahata interview on July 12 that if the government-proposed war legislation is enacted, the risk of war will be an actual all at once.

Hashimoto Kozo, a 32-year-old man living in Ichinomiya City, Aichi Prefecture, joined the SDF in July 2002. “I grew up in a single-parent family. I thought that if I join the SDF, I’ll be able to earn a good salary as a government worker and engage in activities to help other people. I thought it was a fantastic job opportunity,” Hashimoto said.

During the job interview, an SDF official asked him, “You may be sent to Afghanistan or Iraq. Can you go there? Will your family agree to that?”

“Yes, of course,” Hashimoto replied. But it was not his true sentiment. Actually, he and many of his colleagues entering the SDF in the same year were worried about being dispatched abroad.

Hashimoto was assigned to an infantry regiment in Nagoya City. It was a combat unit armed with heavy weapons such as recoilless rifles.

“The Abe government is trying to enact the war-related bills in order to enable the SDF to provide ammunition to the U.S. military. It is chilling just to think that the U.S. forces might kill innocent people with the ammunition provided by Japan,” he said.

In January 2004, Hashimoto resigned voluntarily due to trouble in his unit. The regiment to which he had belonged was sent to the Iraqi city of Samawa the following year under the mission of providing reconstruction assistance.

Shimabuku Keisuke, 28, living in Okinawa City, enrolled in the Ground SDF in March 2005 with his twin brother.

Shimabuku has hated war since his childhood as he heard that many local residents, including some of his relatives, had been killed in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. “However, SDF personnel can receive good wages as government employees. To help with family finances, we decided to join the SDF,” he said.

In November 2006, his brother Hideyoshi, assigned to a camp in Hokkaido, died during a hand-to-hand combat training exercise. Suspecting that his brother was killed by bullying at the camp, Shimabuku and his family filed a lawsuit against the state. In March 2013, the Sapporo District Court ordered the administration to pay damages to the bereaved family.

Through that trial, it was found out that SDF personnel had received ever harder fight training since the defense authorities began to dispatch SDF troops to Iraq in 2004, and that the number of accidents and injuries associated with such exercises has been sharply increasing.

“I saw a Diet interpellation in which Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo pointed to the fact that a number of U.S. servicepersons are suffering from PTSD after returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. If the war legislation forces the SDF to assist U.S. troops in wars, SDF members will also be driven into a terrible predicament and many will suffer from PTSD,” Shimabuku stressed.

After leaving the SDF, Hashimoto and Shimabuku felt empathy with the JCP’s pacifist policies and joined the party. In the Ichinomiya City Assembly election held this April, Hashimoto won.

Past related article:
> Bereaved family wins state compensation for SDF member’s death [April 15, 2013]
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