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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 9 - 15  > Gov’t eager to dismiss public fears of possible introduction of military draft
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2014 July 9 - 15 [POLITICS]

Gov’t eager to dismiss public fears of possible introduction of military draft

July 12, 2014
Since the Abe Cabinet decided to lift the ban on Japan’s use of the collective self-defense right on July 1, the general public has been increasingly concerned that the decision will lead to an introduction of conscription. The government is trying to dismiss this fear.

The Cabinet Secretariat recently set up a question-and-answer page about the cabinet decision on its website. The page includes the question, “Does the government plan to introduce a compulsory enlistment program?” The response was, “It is a total misunderstanding and is an obvious mistake.”

This shows that the government is aware of the growing public concern over a possible change in the current military recruitment system.

Niigata’s Kamo City Mayor Koike Kiyohiko, a former head of the National Institute for Defense Studies, on a TV program aired on July 10 said, “If Japan’s Self-Defense Forces go to war abroad like the U.S., a number of SDF personnel will be killed and thus, no one may want to serve in the SDF. In order to maintain an offensive military capability, Japan will have no choice but to introduce a draft system.”

The government on the Q and A page argued that the Japanese Constitution bans a draft system because Article 18 stipulates, “No person shall be held in bondage of any kind. Involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, is prohibited.”

This argument is based on the government’s interpretation that a draft system is a kind of “involuntary servitude”. However, this constitutional interpretation could be revised.

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Ishiba Shigeru in May 2002 at a meeting of the Research Commission on the Constitution of the House of Representatives said, “I do not think that the draft system comes under the definition of involuntary servitude.”

LDP member of the Lower House Funada Hajime on July 10 on a TV show admitted that revision of the current interpretation of Article 18 is logically possible.

It is always young people who shed blood on battlefields with the introduction of a draft system, Akahata on July 12 pointed out.
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