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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 March 25 - 31  > GSDF presses its personnel to write ‘farewell notes’ in case of death to their families
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2015 March 25 - 31 [SDF]

GSDF presses its personnel to write ‘farewell notes’ in case of death to their families

March 25, 2015
The Ground Self-Defense Force Northern Army in Sapporo City in Hokkaido presses its 38,000 personnel to write “farewell notes” in case of death to their families. Akahata published this article on March 25 based on interviews with sources close to the GSDF.

According to the sources, around the summer of 2010, higher officers began directing each serviceperson to write a letter to their families and keep it in lockers. For SDF members, the guidance of superiors is a de facto order which they must obey.

This may have been influenced by proposals for a review in the National Defense Program Guidelines which the Liberal Democratic Party National Defense Division presented in the preceding year. The division’s proposals included Japan’s use of the collective self-defense right and the establishment of a permanent law to enable the rapid dispatch of the SDF overseas.

The GSDF Northern Army composes about one fourth of the total GSDF membership, and dispatches the largest number of personnel to other countries. A former SDF member who wrote his letter under orders told an Akahata reporter that he felt he was compelled to prepare himself for death.

One personnel lodged a complaint about the farewell note, the ex-member said. This personnel was later told in writing that writing the letter to immediate family is designed to prepare oneself in advance emotionally and realistically for immediate, long-term duties overseas.

Commenting on this, lawyer Sato Hirofumi said, “The bottom line is that they may be killed ‘while on official duty’ and ‘for the country’. It is a matter of course for many SDF members to wonder about the necessity of writing such a letter. Even those who are under 20 years of age are directed to write farewell notes. This is what an armed force is really all about. It fights wars abroad.”
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