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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 October 21 - 27  > SDF increases activities to recruit high school students in face of its growing unpopularity
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2015 October 21 - 27 [SDF]

SDF increases activities to recruit high school students in face of its growing unpopularity

October 26, 2015
In line with the war legislation which the ruling coalition forcibly enacted last month, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces is further increasing its activities to recruit high school students.

One evening this summer, when Yoshida Aiko, a 53-year-old woman living in Hokkaido’s Asahikawa City, was preparing supper, her house’s door chime sounded.

Outside the front door was standing a man, who identified himself as an SDF official in charge of public relations. He said, “I’m recruiting personnel for the SDF. Could you tell me which families around this neighborhood have children aged between 18 and 26?”

Yoshida was shocked by his request as her two sons are both in that age bracket. She suddenly remembered the postcard sent to her house two months previously which calls for youth to join the SDF. “I have sons but they’ve already been promised other jobs,” she replied.

Soon after the SDF official left, Yoshida asked neighbors if that man visited their homes. Nobody said they had his visit. Two days later, Yoshida made inquiries to the city government about the SDF’s recruiting activities.

A city official said that in response to requests from SDF officials, the municipal authorities gave them access to a list containing personal information on youths aged between 18 and 26 in the city, which includes their names, addresses, sexes, and dates of birth. The city worker added that those SDF officials copied the information into a notebook.

When Yoshida talked with several mothers of her son’s classmates about this issue, those mothers said that they also received visits by SDF officers. “I’m scared to death when I think that if the SDF official had come to my house during my absence and had talked to my sons in person, they may have been persuaded to join,” she added. “I think this is due to the enactment of the war legislation. I haven’t raised my sons to send them to wars.”

SDF becomes less popular as employment option

Behind the SDF’s frantic activities to recruit young people is the fact that high school students are becoming less and less interested in joining the SDF.

The Hokkaido Shimbun reported on October 14 that this year’s number of SDF applicants from high school students in Hokkaido decreased 15% from a year earlier, the lowest number in the past eight years. The paper points out that this trend is accelerating after the Abe Cabinet announced in July last year a decision to change the traditional interpretation of the pacifist Constitution in order to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

A man in his 20s enlisted in the SDF after he graduated from a high school in Hokkaido. Following the enactment of the national security legislation in September, he visited his former teacher in his high school days and said, “As you said in the past, the SDF, which is supposed to work to defend Japan’s peace and security, will be dispatched to overseas battlefields. I’ve decided to leave the SDF because I hate the idea of having to kill other people.”

On September 16, Japanese Communist Party member of the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly Kikuchi Yoko questioned city authorities regarding the SDF’s hiring activities, pointing to the possibility that it will constitute a violation of the government notification which calls on the SDF to refrain from recruiting high school students directly. In response, the city’s superintendent of public schools promised to request the SDF to abide by the official notice.

Past related articles:
> SDF in Shiga tried to recruit students in school restrooms with wanted ad printed on toilet paper [October 8, 2015]
> Local residents call on high school to reconsider introduction of SDF course [September 30, 2015]
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