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New defense bills may create Abe's version of a 'back-door draft'

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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

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Surprise, surprise. Get this out the people, ASAP! Oh, wait... even if they know, and 100% object, Abe will do it anyway because that's what this government does; what it wants, not what the people want.

24 ( +30 / -6 )

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.”

Extortion from the government. Don't give us your employees, don't get a contract.

There SHOULD be millions of people protesting this, yet they won't until AFTER the fact. As the JSDF gets smaller and smaller the US is going to be relied upon more and more for "mutual defense".

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Will the children and all age-eligible relatives of those who vote to approve this measure be the first 'interns'?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

And next will be an intensified militarisation of schools.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Yet another 'internship' program by the GOJ.

First it was the government 'offering' the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program as a back-door means of securing cheap manual labor by exploiting people from developing countries. And now it's this, the Self Defense Force Internship Program where participants "will not be dispatched overseas unless the individual 'volunteers' for such service."

What is it with Japan and sham "internship/trainee" programs? And don't get me started with the "volunteer" element of this internship — euphemisms galore.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I suppose, if worse comes to worse, they could combine the two, Sensato, and co-opt workers from developing countries for the SDF. I wonder how that would go down.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The Defense Ministry pays a subsidy of 510,000 yen per person to companies whose workers are mobilized for emergencies.

So just how many people are currently involved with this program? Since it's been around for a couple of years and the government is paying this much per person, there should be some data available.

I wonder just how much of this 510,000 actually goes to the "intern".

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So, this is actually a way of pushing companies to allow reservists to serve. I have read in the past of companies phoning up the SDF and telling them that they can't 'take' 'their' reservists.

So, what we have here seems to be a non-story.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

With the reinterpretation of the constitution to allow for the deployment of soldiers overseas, they're going to have to start drafting people into the SDF. Their numbers were low before, but now, the reinterpretation will probably cut the number of volunteers in half. Young Japanese don't even want to go overseas for a holiday, much less less get deployed. They are going to need the draft for their numbers.

Abe, I hope that you are satisfied?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

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.

Guess those SDF recruitment game apps didn't pull in the numbers.

As the JSDF gets smaller and smaller the US is going to be relied upon more and more for "mutual defense".

Let's not forget about the declining birthrate too. Looks the the US is in it for the long haul folks. What say all you base bashers and Suga supporters now? Reality check, huh-

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Drafting is not possible with the present constitution with article 22 ensuring the freedom of choice in occupation, place of residence and choice of nationality.It's also impossible to regulate draftees without a court martial.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Voting age reduced to 18, and soon smoking and drinking too. Same thing done in the US 50 years ago during the Vietnam War draft. Any surprise how all this may have been planned?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Send Mori to the front line ...send Mori (the not too bright former prime minister). He might be able to protect Japan's younger soldiers (and more important to the country) from potential live fire.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You may not have noticed, Triring, that the constitution is being gutted of meaning as part of the re-militarisation process. In fact, this is partly what the furore is all about. And in a Wonderland that has mastered the arts of informal punishments and penalties any formal court martial may not be necessary either.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Geez. A bit sleepy this morning so on first read through I thought "how is this different from a national guard program?"

Then I re-read and caught this part: "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."

That's downright sinister. Take vulnerable people who generally have no college education, at the beginning of their construction careers when they're most vulnerable and most in need of experience to get up the ranks, and create a financial incentive for their company to push them into reserve service? That's like straight-up comic book supervillain evil.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

MoonrakerSep. 07, 2015 - 10:19AM JST

The constitution hasn't been touched. The interpatation can only go for so far. They can't override something like article 22 which is written in black and white.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

National service may cause the birth rate to increase.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Sorry, Triring, but the constitution is only as good as the supreme court judges who uphold it and they are mostly stooges in Japan who seek to avoid their responsibility at all costs. For example, they can rule that a vote disparity of 4.77 : 1 be put into a separate category called "a state of unconstitutionality", as opposed to a straight "unconstitutional", which to all intents and purposes means the election outcome is fine. Then they can find that non-legal "administrative guidance" has the same force as law. Get the picture? The judiciary is not independent here in Japan (and I guess you are not here to know that). I wish I had your faith in the constitution of Japan but it is reeling and if you can think of an effective way to sideline or subvert your article 22 then it can be done, and even if you can't it still can be done.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What little respect Abe 'may' have had with those on the fence about his policies is now all gone with this bit stupidity. His party slogan should be "You don't like it? Tough!! I don't care!!"

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think a back door draft from Abe would stink even more than usual!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

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.”

This is against the law. He is taking a big risk doing this as he is risking a long sentence under Abe's secrets law.

I have often thought that more people should support the JCP. They have no chance of winning an election, but the few JCP members of the Diet do at least try to provide some opposition and often uncover the LDPs misdeeds.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

There are going to be 300, 000 well-trained troops looking for work soon, just across the water. Maybe try recruiting over there?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Nice way to nearly bury this article by putting it in the gossip section.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Friday is just another scandal mag... I would put as much faith in it's in depth reporting as I would Hello magazine.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

National service may cause the birth rate to increase.

How could you expect the birth rate to increase by separating eligible men from marriageable women?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Lets start with Abe's nephews and nieces first and then all the LDP's kids etc...you want this so much then you have no problem volunteering your own.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Could someone from the USA explain how you guys (is it just men?) still have to register for 'the draft" and what are the consequences if you fail to do so? I've heard it can disadvantage you when applying for public sector jobs or even house loans.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Triring:

The constitution hasn't been touched. The interpatation can only go for so far. They can't override something like article 22 which is written in black and white.

Hasn't been touched? Despite article nine literally declaring that Japan forever gives up the right to go to war as a sovereign right, it's now being reinterpreted so that the "SDF" can now get involved in allies, presumably the US', fights. I'd say the whole idea of reinterpreting the constitution has gone quite far enough. I'm an American and even I find this nutty. If Japan needs to revise its constitution then so be it, but let the Japanrse public decide. "Reinterpreting" the constitution and circumventing the constitution is downright cowardly. So, to now suggest that the Abe Administration wouldn't just ignore article 22 is quite naive.

@Roylance.norton

Could someone from the USA explain how you guys (is it just men?) still have to register for 'the draft" and what are the consequences if you fail to do so? I've heard it can disadvantage you when applying for public sector jobs or even house loans.

Can't remember all the details, but basically you have to register for the draft at 18. I think it applies only to males, but correct me if I am wrong. You are supposed to do become a registered voter. Also, if you cannot receive federal aid for education etc., without registering. Employment with the federal government likely requires registering for the draft, and if you apply for government backed loans, you probably are required to register.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Drafting is not possible with the present constitution with article 22 ensuring the freedom of choice in occupation, place of residence and choice of nationality.It's also impossible to regulate draftees without a court martial.

It may say that, but what' really practiced in Japan. How many workers are there in Japan doing work that they don't want to be doing, but can't do anything different because yes they have a choice to choose their line of work, but if they didn't go to the "right" school fat chance of getting that dream job.

Also, what happens if Abe is voted out? The next guy can come in and change it all. If it is taking this much effort to make a small change, I imagine that if someone were elected who opposed these plans came into office I guess the consensus would be it's too hard to stop now. People if you don't like it, then vote them out. Abe can only be PM if his party has the majority of seats. But yet, you ask those who do vote to change their party vote for the next election, and they will tell you they have always voted LDP, and it's not their guy who is supporting this stuff but the other guy so nothing will change.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Resorting to expanded military spending with no credible threat in sight is the same is giving up on civil industries that made post-war Japan great.

I wonder if the children and grandchildren of Japanese government lawmakers and ministers still reside in Japan. How do we know they don't have foreign citizenship (as an electable future option perhaps), or take Chinese classes? because it's quite clear that policymakers, who must be shrewd otherwise they wouldn't have their current jobs, are not serious about securing the future of this country.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Friday is just another scandal mag... I would put as much faith in it's in depth reporting as I would Hello magazine.

Thunderbird2, the kisha clubs (and blatent LDP threats) ensure that Japanese newspapers self-censor. Where that fails, the uyoku's black trucks soon bring any transgressors back into line.

Shuukanshi like Friday are often the only source of investigative reporting, which is still tame compared to what you take for granted in the UK, even in the BBC-bullying Cameron era.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The problem for Abe, which good for us, is that the are simply not enough workers who can go off to be soldiers because of the falling birth rate. There are not enough workers to provide the logistics is Japan engages in one of the U.S.-made wars. I cannot see Abe drafting pensioners, Expect the recruitment for the SDF to fall further once the security bills are passed. Being a soldier is fun, if you like that sort of thing, until there is a war.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

cardsfan5Sep. 07, 2015 - 07:24PM JST

Japan have not forfeitted the right to defend herself. What the US wrote in the constitution is the right to become the aggresor in invading another nation.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We saw this was coming. No brainer. Kids not volunteering. The JCP rushing to get some political advantage here. Will the US government come in and help? Hm! They've got a proxy. Abe wanted to glorify his grandpa, well he's doing it on Japan's youth's blood. The longer Japan waits, the stronger the 'enemy' will get. As Japan's economy and population dwindle, the larger the other guys will get. Add this to a nation of grass-eaters, where's the future? I agree with some of the above comments. We're quickly going fascist here. All for what? Indeed, as was commented before, was Japan truly a pacifist nation? So much restlessness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JT, why isn't this article on the front page news, trying to bury or hide an article like this from the public, and all those who have sons who could be conscripted, me included, is wrong. This paragraph alone "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."should be ringing alarm bells, this is something that the general population should be aware of. Please JT put this article where it belongs , on Front Page News.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Do we remember what "capitalism in the service of the state" means? It is the definition of "National Socialism", abbreviated as "NZ" in German. Pronounced "NaZi". This is what we are coming to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is becoming a threat to her neighbors.

Pundits won't see it that way though, as they apparently think the Senkakus, those tiny useless uninhabited rocks, are some sort of gold mine.

The only gold mine is see is the Senakus being a powder keg for war, and munitions and weapons profits soaring. I think its pretty obvious that that is what some Japanese industrialists and their politician lackeys crave.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

For 70 years Japan has not been a threat to her neighbors. Consider this. If Abe is successful in abolishing the peace constitution, the Japanese government will be free to develop nuclear weapons. That idea has never been discussed while Article 9 is on the books. Do the Chinese people want the Japanese people to have nuclear weapons? How about Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia. Do Okinawan people need nukes. All the major industrial powers maintain nuclear arsenals, with missiles ready to launch. Abe cannot compete on the world stage without nuclear weapons. Is that preferable to having a peace constitution? The United Nations mandate established in 1945 was to abolish war making. Article 9 has achieved that for 68 years. Peace is possible - imperfect as it is. As Noam Chomsky says, "Article 9 should serve as an inspiration and a model for the world to follow."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@David3: You can thank China, N.Korea, and S.Korea's insistent bullying and perpetual hatred towards Japan for it's war past 70yrs ago to wake Japan's population to the reality of where it is today and that without a strong military to take actions when pushed we will never gain an equal footing for dialogue for true conciliation. Think about the Northern islands still held by Russia illegally or S.Korea taking Takeshima during the hand-off during the U.S. occupation and still illegally occupying it, N.Korea kidnapping our citizens without recourse, China claiming Senkaku as their own, etc. All of which Japan has done the due diligence with the U.N. and ICJ to take recourse but to no avail or cooperation.. Might=Right in this barbaric world we live-in today and all the peace for the past 70yrs and support we (Japan) provided the UN, China, S.Korea has done little to even take a fair shot at true reconciliation to do the right thing. It's high time we build a strong sensible nation that can defend our own women and children and be an equal business and military partner with our allies in the region.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I still think you're all over-reacting.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

An excellent idea. Conscript some of these pathetic grasseaters, and harden them up.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Japan is becoming a threat to her neighbors.

How? How is a small collection of islands a threat to its neighbours? SK are allies, so no threat. China has a standing army of 2.3 million plus more weapons than you could chuck a stick at... how is Japan a threat to that?

Pundits won't see it that way though, as they apparently think the Senkakus, those tiny useless uninhabited rocks, are some sort of gold mine.

The only gold mine is see is the Senakus being a powder keg for war, and munitions and weapons profits soaring. I think its pretty obvious that that is what some Japanese industrialists and their politician lackeys crave.

Scare mongering at its finest. You should write novels with that sort of imagination :D

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Re-examine the Japanese Constitution.... For now... do not take it as the basis of ALL that is right or wrong, justified or unjustified, moral or immoral... all that idealism does not matter when "survival" is the issue.

Abe has said, not openly, but in a very subtle way, that is causing all this confrontation, that "survival" of the Japanese nation is at stake if the Japanese Constitution is not "reviewed" and "changed" to reflect current reality. Just because of that very Constitution and the way it was written, he cannot come out and say that it must be changed or Japan may not survive as a nation.

The problem is MILITARY... "period".

Nothing in this world can be protected or any laws enforced without "physical force" of some sort. Whether we like it or not, internationally (basically the entire living system... nature) is physical power that determines survival. Throughout mankind's history (in fact the entire animal kingdom's history) has been to "fight" to survive. Ultimately that requires the military. From ISIS to Ukraine to Syria... it is the "military" that both protects and defends as well as conquer.

There are many world leaders as well as hidden groups that want to conquer the world. They all know and use military force. The only way to defend and protect to survive is the military. It is only 70 years from WWII and 50 years since Vietnam, but throughout the years from ages past, there is war that is being fought in some part of the world.

Mr. Abe is NOT a one man government. Japan is "party" run with many behind the scenes with extremely complicated structures, systems and relationships. Therefore it is not surprising that most of what happens are not obvious till announced or becomes open.

Other nations may or may not have such political structure, but there is NO nation that can survive by being totally "open". So it is foolish to point fingers and talk about openness, fairness, equality and the like on issues such as this.

The question must be WHY now?

Why a need for building up the military?

Why even consider conscription?

For any political figure to even bring this kind of idea out in an extremely "idealistic" society as Japan is.... knowing that such ideas made public will be not only controversial but also fatal politically....there MUST be a REASON WHY?

What is that reason...?

That is what the current administration, not just Abe, MUST explain, for the public to "unite" and support the government. The government cannot continue by just giving handouts and "pleasing" the public with their own tax Yen. Without clear and meaningful explanation, Japan will continue to be divided.

And a divided nation is ALWAYS "w e a k".

That is exactly what the Allied nation wanted Japan to become after WWII. That is exactly why the Japanese Constitution was written and designed to do... to prevent a united and powerful Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Abe has said, not openly, but in a very subtle way, that is causing all this confrontation, that "survival" of the Japanese nation is at stake if the Japanese Constitution is not "reviewed" and "changed" to reflect current reality. Just because of that very Constitution and the way it was written, he cannot come out and say that it must be changed or Japan may not survive as a nation.

So if he hasn't said anything openly, how do you know he said it at all? See that's what I don't get... everyone here (bar a few) seem to think that Japan is suddenly going to develop into some powerful military dictatorship and conquer Asia. Where are you getting all of this information from?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Not anybody can become a SDF soldier. The requirements are really, really strict and a lot of people just fail to get in even though they'd like to. Then after the first three months of training, some people are sent to places they don't want to go to and leave.

The two-year soldiers are mostly doing it for the really nice bonus they get after their two years are over and they get out. They're not really motivated and it weighs on the other troops who are in for the long haul.

Getting in to Boeidai is also really tough so either they increase the number of people that can get in or lower the standards they have been using.

The government will get plenty of people that way.

The reserve (Yobijieikan) is actually a good recruitment program and helps young men and women to make a decision as to what path they can take during recruitment. The ready-reserve is also really well set up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@roylance.norton, read all about "Selective Service" here: https://www.sss.gov/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm with Thunderbird 2 - most of the comments here seem to be way overblown. This is an article in Friday we're talking about - which as most folks know is a "National Inquirer" style tabloid - not known for responsible journalism, unless flying saucers and AKB is your definition of news...........

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kabuki lover There are not enough workers to provide the logistics is Japan engages in one of the U.S.-made wars. I don't think the U.S. Will be making a war if anything they will be protecting Japan from China or North Korea from Japan military past.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

supey 11 are you saying that they are using alcohol to fool the young ones? well yes that would work

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First, let us all admit this is clever.

The present government tack is that conscription is banned under Article 18 because it bans involuntary hard labor. However, if you volunteered the same labor is acceptable. Article 22 doesn't get mentioned that much but can be dealt with similarly. So, these interns nominally chose the company, and they may even have volunteered (by promises of better promotion and payraise prospects or quiet advisement of the inverse) for the internship program.

On the other hand, Japan kind of brought this onto herself when even those who volunteered for the reserves were unable to depart their posts for one reason or another in 2011. Only a few percent actually responded. Unlike in other countries, without the "honor" part companies see Reservists being mobilized as a hindrance to get business, thus mandating a bribe of sorts to get them to cooperate.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Kazuaki: apathy ofthe general public and an unwillingness to see the warning signs of an increasingly dictatorial government can hardly be called "clever". The masses were largely ignorant of the same ideology leading them to war and destruction in WWII, but there's no excuse for allowing it -- and even DESIRING it -- to happen again. And it is.

No, not "clever". It's downright criminal (literally) on the part of the government, and stupid on the part of those with the power to vote.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

smithinjapanSEP. 11, 2015 - 11:51AM JST

No, not "clever". It's downright criminal (literally) on the part of the government, and stupid on the part of those with the power to vote.

Which article of the Criminal Code did they break?

I see where the critics are coming from, and my choice of "clever" is intended to include its "sneaky" undertone. For all that, 2011 proved that without some incentive, it is impossible to get Japanese companies to release their reservists even for vital duty. This is the response. While I can see a 100% chance of abuse, if we agree Japan needs reservists, and we don't want to do this by handing out harsh punishments for not showing up (which will only reduce the numbers further), well how many solutions are there?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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