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54 SDF members sent to Iraq, Indian Ocean committed suicide over 10-year period

21 Comments

Fifty-four Self Defense Force members who were dispatched to support war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, including refueling missions in the Indian Ocean between 2001 and 2010 have committed suicide.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani announced the figures Wednesday in response to a question from Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii during deliberations on controversial proposed new security legislation, Sankei reported.

Shii said he was concerned about the emotional burden being placed on SDF personnel who are dispatched overseas. He asked Nakatani how many SDF members involved in overseas missions had committed suicide.

Nakatani said 25 Maritime Self-Defense Force members, who had worked on refueling missions in the Indian Ocean, had committed suicide, while 21 Ground Self-Defense Force and eight Air Self-Defense Force members, who were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to provide logistical support for coalition forces, had taken their lives. However, Nakatani added that it is difficult to say for certain that being deployed on such overseas missions was a contributing factor to the suicides, all of which occurred after the SDF personnel returned to Japan.

More than 22,000 SDF personnel took part in support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010, according to Defense Ministry figures.

The draft legislation currently being debated would allow the SDF to go into battle to protect allies — so-called “collective defense” — something currently banned by a strict reading of Japan’s pacifist constitution.

The legislation, which would overhaul 10 security related laws and create a new one, would pave the way for the military to deploy abroad on non-combat assignments such as disaster relief and U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Revisions include removing geographical constraints on logistical support for friendly forces in “situations that would significantly affect Japan’s security”.

They also say Japan can defend allies “in situations where there is a clear risk that Japan’s existence is threatened and its people’s rights…are compromised through an attack on a country which has a close relationship with Japan.”

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"“in situations where there is a clear risk that Japan’s existence is threatened and its people’s rights…are compromised through an attack on a country which has a close relationship with Japan.”

It's not that simple. Japan has made a promise with the revisions that would mean Japan has to go to war to aid the US whether it poses an immediate threat to the islands of Japan or not.

In any case, if the issue is not even that they committed suicide due to being dispatched then I think there is a bigger problem that needs to be discussed. Do so many people in the SDF commit suicide that there is room for doubt it had to do with overseas deployment?

8 ( +13 / -5 )

I'm curious how these statistics would compare with other countries.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

So what is that as a percentage? About 0.0025% (I don't have a calculator)? How does that compare with comparable civilian demographics? Say people aged 20-45. There are two issues here. One is the statistics behind these figures. The other (more ominous) one is the dramatic lurch to the right in the political debate. What worries me most about all this is that traditionally there has been a strong elderly demographic in Japan that has stood firm in its protection of Article 9 of the Constitution. However, those people who actually experienced Japan's last experiment with projecting power overseas (commonly known as the Occupation of China and Pacific War) are now dying out. What concerns me is that this decision to revise a whole raft load of legislation is not being driven by a serious debate. Rather certain elements of the LDP are trying to push things through at a break neck speed. Furthermore, where is the serious academic debate about this issue? It seems to be missing much in the same way as the historical debate on war responsibility is missing. NHK has been gagged by the Abe Regime, and the serious press (specifically Asahi) have also been threatened. Is this any way to run a democracy?

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Not sure if you can compare as the JSDF was not there as Combat Troops.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

wow and theyre wernt even involved in actual combat, guessing these suicides would have been much higher if PTS from combat was included.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It is too bad they could not return to Japan and remind people what was is really like. Then, maybe the public would finally wake up and put a stop to all this nationalist malitarist junk.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

54 SDF members sent to Iraq, Indian Ocean committed suicide over 10-year period

That should serve as a strong message to the government over peoples' willingness to fight abroad for Japan

0 ( +6 / -5 )

There is no clear indicator for this figures. This is just an statistics, being used by those who opposed the New Security Legislation Bill. There were even more people who committed suicide in Koiwa/Shin-Koiwa stations (in just this past couple of years) than the 54 SDF members who did for 10-year period.

7 ( +7 / -1 )

I've heard that the same thing happened to American soldiers. More soldiers renturned from Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide or became very sick in America. It seems that somethng too terrible or too much often happened to all soldiers during there.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Suicide is major issue amongst the military, active and retired. Has been since... well, since records of war has been kept. Here's some more striking information...

In early 2013, the official website of the United States Department of Defense announced the startling statistic that the number of military suicides in 2012 had far exceeded the total of those killed in battle—an average of nearly one a day. A month later came an even more sobering statistic from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: veteran suicide was running at 22 a day—about 8000 a year.

Some have claimed that this spate of self-harm is because of the stresses of war. But the facts reveal that 85% of military suicides have not seen combat—and 52% never even deployed.

...all evidence points in one direction: the soaring rates of psychiatric drug prescribing since 2003. Known medication side effects of these drugs such as increased aggression and suicidal thinking are reflected in similar uptrends in the rates of military domestic violence, child abuse and sex crimes, as well as self-harm.

Pull the string further and you’ll find psychiatrists ever widening the definitions of what it means to be “mentally ill,” especially when it comes to post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers—and PTSD in veterans. And in psychiatry, diagnoses of psychological disorders such as PTSD, personality disorder and social anxiety disorder are almost inevitably followed by the prescription of at least one psychiatric drug.

http://www.cchr.org/documentaries/the-hidden-enemy.html

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The post-traumatic stress syndrome in US and other western military personnel that has led to many suicides is usually found in people who have been in the combat zones. It is hard to imagine why it should occur to any great extent in military personnel in support roles, and certainly not where the Japanese military seem to have been stationed. It would appear that those who worry about Japan re-arming itself have little to fear.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The suicide rate matches the General population over the 9 years. No story here.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

According to my rough calculations, that would put deployed JDSF suicide rate at very nearly the same as Japan's overall suicide rate.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One of the strongest stressors is helplessness. The Japanese contingent in Iraq was shackled with very minimal weaponry ROEs and laws. It may actually be less stressful if you are in combat but at least you can murder the enemy with counterfire.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Mental stress in warzone is truly unbearable, suicidal prone to be high..... besides, its also a facts that suicide rate in countries like Japan is one of the highest in the world too, I feel sorry for those who decided to take their own lives this way....its a pity but rest in peace, alas no more wars...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thank you for that post, Harvey!

harvey pekarMay. 28, 2015 - 08:04PM JST

Suicide is major issue amongst the military, active and retired. Has been since... well, since records of war has been kept. Here's some more striking information...

In early 2013, the official website of the United States Department of Defense announced the startling statistic that the number of military suicides in 2012 had far exceeded the total of those killed in battle—an average of nearly one a day. A month later came an even more sobering statistic from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: veteran suicide was running at 22 a day—about* 8000** a year. !!!!!!!

Some have claimed that this spate of self-harm is because of the stresses of war. But the facts reveal that 85% of military suicides have not seen combat—and 52% never even deployed.

...all evidence points in one direction: the soaring rates of psychiatric drug prescribing since 2003. Known medication side effects of these drugs such as increased aggression and suicidal thinking are reflected in similar uptrends in the rates of military domestic violence, child abuse and sex crimes, as well as self-harm.

Pull the string further and you’ll find psychiatrists ever widening the definitions of what it means to be “mentally ill,” especially when it comes to post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers—and PTSD in veterans. And in psychiatry, diagnoses of psychological disorders such as PTSD, personality disorder and social anxiety disorder are almost inevitably followed by the prescription of at least one psychiatric drug.

http://www.cchr.org/documentaries/the-hidden-enemy.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

54 suicides in 10 years works out to 5.4 suicides a year.

54 suicides out of 22,000 personnel who served overseas works out to a 0.24% suicide rate of those who served overseas.

Put in terms of the WHO suicide statistics, Japan averaged 18.5 suicides per 100,000 population in 2012. This 5.4 suicide yearly average works out to 24.5 suicides per 100,000 soldiers a year. It's an up-tick compared to the overall population, to be sure, but not as drastic as it first seemed.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

During the same ten-year period, how many non-deployed SDF members committed suicide?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Uh..... I knew two of the army guys. It wasn't due to any stress from being overseas but, from coming back and finding their wife boffing somebody else. Curious too. Doesn't Japan have like one of the highest suicide rates for a developed country.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hhehehe just imagine yourself going to war without weapons. Must be horrible. I would go with a large .50 cal machinegun. Some ar-10 1 m50 1 desert eagle. And I would leave my heart at home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Must really be so awfully helpless being in a combat zone but can't defend oneself and the stress of living with all the sound of war and then coming home only to find your wife or gf in someone else's arms. But it's not right. Being dead, would make the woman enjoy life with the soldier's hard earned money. Not a good way to retaliate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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