No Japanese has undergone military conscription in the past 70 years. But if the powers that be in the LDP have their way, that may change. As incredible as it may seem, reports Friday (Sept 18), a new program is being planned that, the magazine alleges, constitutes a "hidden military draft."
How could such a thing come about? As the new defense bills already passed by the House of Representatives move toward becoming the law of the land, increasing numbers of the Japan Self Defense Forces are calling it quits. Resignations, reportedly up by 20%, are threatening to create a serious manpower shortage, and campaigns by the SDF to attract new recruits have failed to fill the gap.
Reservists were, in fact, mobilized after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku and were involved in various rescue and recovery operations.
Last year, the SDF emphasized the 60th anniversary of its founding in its recruitment campaign. Friday includes a reproduction of a flyer with information about the intern program, extolling the merits for both employers and the SDF, but remarks that the flyer contents are "totally vague."
An unnamed SDF recruiter tells the magazine that in response to questions during recruitment orientations, he is obliged to reassure potential recruits right from the get-go that, under the proposed defense legislation, "SDF members will not be dispatched overseas unless the individual volunteers for such service."
It seems that with passage of the bills imminent, the Ministry of Defense has quietly been putting a new program into effect. Japan Communist Party member Takahiro Tatsumi, who obtained a copy of the confidential document, explains the details of the so-called "Self Defense Force Internship Program."
“The program, set up by the Defense Ministry in 2013, provides for staff members newly hired by businesses to train with the Self Defense Forces. Participating companies will arrange for a fixed number of their employees to commit to a two-years internship period."
"While working at their regular jobs, they can be called up in the event of a crisis," he noted.
And it's not only the "internship program," that bothers Friday. The dividing line between civilian companies and the SDF is being torn down day by day.
"In the general system that provides for bidding on contracts that was put into effect from July of this year, construction companies whose workers have signed up to join the reserves will be given preferential treatment on public works contracts," says the JCP's Tatsumi. "Since the companies desire this kind of business, I suppose they'll respond to the arrangement."
The Defense Ministry pays a subsidy of 510,000 yen per person to companies whose workers are mobilized for emergencies.
Behind the new system is a chronic shortfall of reservists. Tokyo Shimbun editorial director Shigeru Handa tells the magazine, "According to the latest data, recruitment of reservists has only reached two-thirds of the targeted figure of 47,900 men and an even lower 59.6% of the targeted figure of 8,175 ready reservists. The 50-day training system is also falling short of its recruitment targets. It was designed to help supplement the chronic shortage of soldiers, but so far hasn't really functioned as planned."
Given concerns that Japan won't have sufficient means to deal with a crisis near its borders, military affairs consultant Hajime Marutani raises the possibility that Japan will adopt the pattern similar to countries in Europe and North America, such as through introduction of a generous and wide-ranging scholarship program that will give recruits better incentives to enlist.© Japan Today