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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 June 29 - July 5  > Defense Ministry discusses ‘economic conscription’
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2016 June 29 - July 5 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Defense Ministry discusses ‘economic conscription’

July 2, 2016
It has come to light that the Defense Ministry is discussing the creation of a scholarship program which requires grant recipients to join the Self-Defense Forces. Akahata criticized this move as a kind of “economic conscription” targeting university students struggling with heavy financial burdens associated with high education costs under a situation where the SDF has become unpopular and understaffed supposedly due to Japan’s low birthrate and the forcible enactment of the war legislation.

Akahata recently obtained the Defense Ministry’s internal documents through information disclosure requests. The documents were compiled in June 2013 by the ministry’s panel discussing how to recruit people willing to play a role in national security. In the documents, the panel proposed adding a Japanese version of U.S. military’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program to recruitment programs in order to encourage college students to choose a SDF career.

The ROTC program is a college-based officer training program that the U.S. military offers on campuses across the United States. Those who enter the program participate in military training and attend military classes in exchange for receiving grants to cover their educational and living costs up to graduation. After graduation, they are required to serve in the U.S. forces for a certain period of time. It is pointed out that the overwhelming majority of ROTC applicants come from low-income families.

The Defense Ministry’s documents explained that in the Japanese version of the ROTC program, the ministry seeks to expand the existing scholarship loan program which is applied to graduate and undergraduate students in science courses. Under the program, user students receive a loan of 54,000 yen every month. If they serve in the SDF for a set period of time after graduation, they will not be required to repay their loans. The Abe government in 2015 introduced a budget to increase the number of applicants for this loan program.

Past related articles:
> SDF should refrain from resorting to outrageous recruit methods [April 4, 2016]
> ‘Economic conscription’ could become reality in Japan [July 14, 2015]
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