The Daily Manila Shimbun


SDF personnel mixed over Constitution debate

October 18, 2017

TOKYO- Japanese Self-Defense Forces members are mixed in their reactions to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal to revise the country's constitution to formally acknowledge the role of the SDF.

The proposal is one of the major issues in a general election set for Sunday for the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of parliament.

"Recognizing the SDF in the constitution is a realistic and workable solution" to a long-running debate on whether the SDF is unconstitutional, a Ground SDF member said, throwing support behind the proposal made in May.

The GSDF member defended Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff at the SDF Joint Staff, who drew criticism from opposition parties for expressing support for Abe's proposal. Kawano "represented the voice of rank-and-file SDF personnel," the GSDF member said.

The GSDF member said he feels that public support for the SDF has been growing due to its rescue and relief operations in the wake of the 1995 earthquake in the Kobe area, western Japan, and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

"But if there are opinions that the SDF is unconstitutional, making things clear by defining the SDF's role in the constitution is better," the GSDF member said.

More needs to be done, an Air SDF member said, expressing hopes that national defense forces will be formed as proposed by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in 2012.

"The SDF is called military forces overseas, but the reality is that the SDF is protected by other countries' forces," the ASDF member said.

Some SDF personnel regard Abe's proposal with indifference.

"There have been no discussions among rank-and-file personnel around me about constitutional amendment," a Maritime SDF member said. "In either case, our duties will be the same," the MSDF member said. Jiji Press