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.”© Japan Today