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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 18 - 24  > Number of people who want to join SDF is decreasing
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2020 March 18 - 24 [SDF]

Number of people who want to join SDF is decreasing

March 23, 2020

The number of young people who want to join the Self-Defense Forces decreased from 50,000 in 2011 to about 27,600 in 2018, according to the Defense Ministry's statistics. The downward trend shows no sign of diminishing.

In contrast, the average age of SDF personnel increased from 31.8 years old in 1990 to 35-37 years old in 2019, showing a decided upward trend.

As countermeasures, the Defense Ministry raised the maximum age to become SDF personnel and accepted more women. Also, the ministry has been intensifying recruiting activities by requesting local governments to submit lists of residents who meet the required age criterion.

A survey conducted last year by the Japan Peace Committee reveals that 316 municipalities which account for 66% of total respondents stated that they did not respond to the ministry's request. The release of residents' personal information to outside organizations is problematic and there is no legal obligation for municipalities to offer such information to upper-tier organizations.

The same survey also shows that all the respondents said they in some way cooperated with SDF recruiting activities by, for example, publicizing recruiting ads on official gazettes and putting up copies of recruiting posters on municipal building walls. Those who volunteered for the SDF after receiving the recruiting mail sent from the SDF based on the information provided by local governments accounted for only a little more than one percent of the total applicants for the SDF.

On March 22 during the National Defense Academy's graduation ceremony, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo again expressed his eagerness to have the legitimacy of the SDF articulated in Article 9 of the Constitution. The more he goes forward to implement constitutional revision, the more young people will stay away from joining the SDF.

Past related article:
> Possibly because of war laws, young people shy away from joining SDF [March 18, 2019]

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