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Japan's military needs more women, but it's still failing on harassment

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By Sakura Murakami and Tim Kelly

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The lead (first paragraph) says the Japanese SDF "needs more women" -- but there is absolutely nothing in the article explaining WHY the SDF needs more women.

So I will ask the questions that nobody seems to be asking:

"Why does the SDF need more women?"

"What benefit is there to the SDF, or to the nation of Japan, to have more women in the SDF?"

I'm not saying that I'm against women in the military. I know that many women have served in their countries' militaries with great distinction. I have two cousins who fit that category.

But that doesn't explain why a military needs more women. If a given country's military contained no women at all, would that automatically put that military at some disadvantage?

The answer is an undeniable no.

7 ( +17 / -10 )

Why would any woman want to join the SDF? There must be any number of better job opportunities.

2 ( +14 / -12 )

obladiToday 05:35 pm JST

Why would any woman want to join the SDF? There must be any number of better job opportunities.

Do you also say "Why would any man want to join the SDF?"

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

Instructor Keiko Yoshimoto presented harassment as a communication issue and focused discussions on generational differences and how they played out in preferences for types of cars and flavors of crisps.

Law professor Tadaki, who separately witnessed part of Yoshimoto's session, said it "did not feel like the sort of training you would expect against a backdrop of there being so many cases of harassment surfacing."

Seems like that way.

And I often wonder whether a message can be seriously transmitted by cartoons. Realistic training movies, yes, but cartoon caricatures seem to trivialise it all.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

More women needed?

What for?

To fire guns, kill, maim and injure in Japan's new military?

Whatever happened to the "Self-defence Force"?

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

Some men and women want to serve their country.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Why the childish comic book diagram behind the speaker of this is such a serious matter?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If a person cannot manage his or her urges and emotions and actions and relationships with others in a familiar localised setting in order that issues of harassment do not ensue, what use is he or she going to be in an alien stressful impersonal ‘battlefield’ situation? Trust has to be foremost, fundamental, surely?

TT

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

factcheckerToday  06:56 pm JST

Why the childish comic book diagram behind the speaker of this is such a serious matter?

I wouldn't worry about it. They can handle it. And the lecture is by civilians made by civilians. but they'll get the message.

The idea of people joining up without a mission, or purpose is causing recruitment problems. Not just Japan. Sadly in Japan, there are very few changes for anyone in the army to be posted abroad which was a good reason to join up. Travel, see other places, and serve your country. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, there appears to be a lack of purpose. New skills have appeared. Gone are the typewriters, and in came the computers, computer programmers, web design, So many new jobs that weren't there in the 1970's 80's.90's. I've never seen the SDF advertise their values, skills, and benefits on TV. Apart from earthquakes, and Tsunamis. Offering driving licenses, Trucks, cars, and tracked vehicles for free, as they serve and get skills fro civilian life. Engineers, learn skills, where they could be sent abroad to help other nations. Medics, nurses, doctors, could all be given help to qualify if they joined up, or joined up after graduation and served say 6-9 years. Offer chances to go abroad for a posting somewhere else to help out. How about also pushing the teamwork, and sports elements to military life? Sadly NATO also appears to have the same problems and have cut back while chasing the peace dividend post-USSR.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

BertieWoosterToday  06:10 pm JST

More women needed?

What for?

To fire guns, kill, maim and injure in Japan's new military?

Whatever happened to the "Self-defence Force"?

There is much more than guns, killing, maiming and injuring.

Some engineers help build bridges, roads, and buildings and do humanitarian work.

The medics, nurses and docs, again help in peacekeeping missions, as do the infantry and armoured divisions.

There are cooks, who help support those troops. Supply specialists, truck drivers, mechanics, clerks, delivering aid, or fuel, Air Sea Rescue. Stop drug smuggling, in some navies. Radar operations, communication experts.So much more than the average person doesn't see.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The lead (first paragraph) says the Japanese SDF "needs more women" -- but there is absolutely nothing in the article explaining WHY the SDF needs more women.

I suggest reading the article again to answer your question

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

More women so they don't stay at home ?

Why the more women ? Men like women decide to join or not.

There is no point in charming women to enroll in the military.

Moreover, more women in the military, less children for sure. It is a demanding job.

A drop in demography is the reason why they are looking by all means to get more military personnel.

It won't make any difference and rather the opposite effect in the long term.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japan's military needs more women

Why? Seems like an important part of the article is missing.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

> If a given country's military contained no women at all, would that automatically put that military at some disadvantage?

The answer is an undeniable no.

Wrong.

The military would be at a disadvantage because women make up more than half the population. They can contribute to the military through medical jobs, engineering, intelligence, HR, transport, and many more.

Not recruiting females would lose the potential of half of talented recruits.

Japan now needs to make a military career more attractive and a safer environment to women - and men.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

As of the end of March 2022, there were almost 20,000 women in the SDF or about 8% of the forces' total strength.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Penalties amd incarceration should be made much more stringent. Much more. Penalties for covering up as well.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Japan's military needs more women,

for what? To sexually assault? And then treat it as if it were a joke?

Do they think we forgot, already?

but it's still failing on harassment

oh really?

You mean absolutely nothing has changed?

What a shocker.

Who would have predicted such an outcome?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Fighto!Today  08:30 pm JST

If a given country's military contained no women at all, would that automatically put that military at some disadvantage?*

The answer is an undeniable no.

Fighto!Today  08:30 pm JST

Wrong. 

The military would be at a disadvantage because women make up more than half the population. They can contribute to the military through medical jobs, engineering, intelligence, HR, transport, and many more. 

Not recruiting females would lose the potential of half of talented recruits. 

Japan now needs to make a military career more attractive and a safer environment to women - and men.

Your spot on Fighto.

The Russians used women in WW2, and some of them were awesome snipers. Russia also had fighter pilots in WW2. We have used women in the military to do many jobs the men won't want to do.EG nursing. clerks, intelligence, Transportation..

We used to say that gay personnel would undermine the fighting ability and cohesion within the ranks and as it turned out, it was also a load of rubbish. They still fight in the trenches, the tank, the truck, not because of their sex or sexuality, or even their values, but because of the person right next to them in the tank, truck or trench. All armies, Navies, Airforces have had their fair share of scumbags in the ranks. Even murderers! I am sure there are many a dead Russian in Ukraine right now, due to the hard work, skill, and dare I say it, the B@lls to pick up that rifle. Some women have that ability, while some men don't. It's the right person,(soldier) for the right job. France, Denmark, Luxemberg, Poland, Ukraine, Norway, etc all used women to help defeat the Nazis. Isreal have had women in the fighting too.

Look back further in history and you will see awesome women.in the UK, France,Russia,Turkey.

It is not the women's fault they have been harassed, assaulted, or worse. It's the brothers in arms that allowed other men to do it. Men have also been abused by "men" within the ranks too.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

the wrong people are in that classroom. they should all be flag rank and civilian leadership.

most problems are failures by senior leadership, or the lack of leadership.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The imposition of The Agenda is well and truly underway in Japan. Rhambo is getting his second wind. Strap in for the inevitable decline, it was nice while it lasted.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

shogun36May 13 10:25 pm JST

Japan's military needs more women,

for what? To sexually assault? And then treat it as if it were a joke?

So you're thinking is that if women just stay home, they won't have to worry about sexual assault? What era do you live in?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Women add critical thinking skills that add to the military ideas that would not necessarily be something men thinks of. Besides thinking creatively, differently, innovating with the technology and creating new concepts, they have been pilots for years. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Iraq war, lost both legs and some of the use of her right arm and received a medical waver and served in the Illinois Army National Guard for ten years. Find me any other soldier like that. (I know there are a few, but how many women soldiers can you tell about?) There are other women as capable (or maybe even more capable) in the service. They are soldiers and should be treated and respected as such.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Japan will never change on misogyny, just restore conscription and bring back the military.

No, SDF isn't a real military, it's an armed police.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

So you're thinking is that if women just stay home, they won't have to worry about sexual assault? What era do you live in?

The more pertinent question is what kind of home do you live in?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

From the article:

"Generational differences make it hard for people to communicate," she (the"expert" harassment instructor) said, adding that people should understand the basics of communication before they could deal with specifics around sexual harassment..

That "expert" harrassment instructor is part of the problem. You don't need do the typical Japanese thing and wrap things in needless layers and make them more complex than they are. Harassment is harassment. Just spell it out directly that it's not acceptable under any circumstances. You won't hurt the officers' feelings.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@tora

Harassment is harassment.

What's a harassment in the West is not necessarily a harassment to Japanese men, that's the problem.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

i have a one question:

do we really need a "japanese military" here?

since have best USarmy stationed here?

any thoughts why to waste so much of taxes for what?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@TaiwanIsNotChina

obladiToday 05:35 pm JST

Why would any woman want to join the SDF? There must be any number of better job opportunities.

Do you also say "Why would any man want to join the SDF?"

Fair enough. I guess I was just expressing the futility of trying to reform the SDF at this particular time. I think there are other career sectors that have equally abysmal diversity, but can probably change with effort (academia, finance, law, medicine).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quo PrimumMay 13  05:17 pm JST

The lead (first paragraph) says the Japanese SDF "needs more women" -- but there is absolutely nothing in the article explaining WHY the SDF needs more women.

So I will ask the questions that nobody seems to be asking:

"Why does the SDF need more women?"

"What benefit is there to the SDF, or to the nation of Japan, to have more women in the SDF?"

I'm not saying that I'm against women in the military. I know that many women have served in their countries' militaries with great distinction. I have two cousins who fit that category.

But that doesn't explain why a military needs more women. If a given country's military contained no women at all, would that automatically put that military at some disadvantage?

The answer is an undeniable no.

You are asking the wrong people really - do some research and enlighten yourself. :)

Having a good number of women in a nation's military or any national organization is important for diversity of perspectives, improved decision-making, and better recruitment and retention.

In Japan, where traditional gender roles have historically limited women's participation in the workforce, including the military, promoting gender equality in the military can serve as a catalyst for broader societal change, enhancing Japan's global standing and strengthening its defense capabilities in an increasingly interconnected world.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The female role in Japanese society has always been as irrelevant, hence the never ending misogyny and degrading they have to endure. Japan has and always has been a patriarchal society where women are seen as nearly useless. Until the whole country changes this will not change.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

opheliajadefeldtToday  12:49 pm JST

The female role in Japanese society has always been as irrelevant, hence the never ending misogyny and degrading they have to endure. Japan has and always has been a patriarchal society where women are seen as nearly useless. Until the whole country changes this will not change.

This statement is mostly accurate but somewhat exaggerated. In Japanese society, women are not viewed as 'useless,' but rather as 'less useful' compared to men. This belief that women are less important than men is not unique to Japan; it is fairly widespread in more traditional and less socially developed nations such as Japan.

Japan is not a 'bad' country because of its slower progress in empowering women and promoting gender equality. Rather, it's simply on a different pace of development in this area

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

UAfanToday  09:12 am JST

i have a one question:

do we really need a "japanese military" here?

since have best USarmy stationed here?

any thoughts why to waste so much of taxes for what?

Japan maintains a military primarily for national security, to deter regional threats from countries like North Korea and China, and to uphold its mutual security treaty with the United States. Additionally, the Self-Defense Forces play a critical role in disaster response and international peacekeeping missions, contributing to both domestic safety and global stability. This military presence supports regional balance and advances technological development, aligning with Japan's pacifist principles under a self-defense framework.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

> obladiToday  10:30 am JST

@TaiwanIsNotChina

obladiToday 05:35 pm JST

Why would any woman want to join the SDF? There must be any number of better job opportunities.

Do you also say "Why would any man want to join the SDF?"

Fair enough. I guess I was just expressing the futility of trying to reform the SDF at this particular time. I think there are other career sectors that have equally abysmal diversity, but can probably change with effort (academia, finance, law, medicine).

Whataboutism is not helpful because it diverts attention from the original issue without addressing its merits.

Shifting the focus to other areas that need support prevents constructive discussion and problem-solving for the issue at hand. This can lead to a situation where no issues are adequately addressed, as the conversation keeps shifting rather than focusing on resolving specific problems one at a time.

Let's focus on the issue of Japan's SDF and the other issues you raise in news articles related to them.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In my early years here in Japan I was taken back by the difference in how the JSDF is perceived here compared with how the armed forces are seen in my home country, the UK. The rhetoric is very different. We in the UK tend to use words like 'pride', 'heroes', and 'best' in conversations about our armed forces. The recruitment adverts are full of content about adventure, skills, training, and bettering oneself. We tend to look up to servicemen and women rather than look down on them. I feel like it is a very different situation here- I don't live near any prominent JSDF bases, but people I have met often look down on it and see it as a last resort vocation. I don't recall ever seeing much in the way of participation in community events like I have seen with the police and fire and rescue service. I rarely watch TV, but I have not seen much on TV about the JSDF in a good light, always in relation to something negative on the news. I see recruitment posters in the toilets at Lawson and that's about it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Different individuals bring different ways of thinking. When fighting an enemy, having different ideas how to protect Japan than what men have thought about over the generations IS A GOOD THING. Not all ideas will be great, but if they aren't at least heard and considered, then better solutions won't ever be known.

One of the weaknesses in Japanese culture is that different ideas are seldom encouraged. I've seen this myself in meetings while working in Japan.

Not only are women needed in the JDF, but they need to raise to high levels so their ideas will actually be heard and other people, both men and women, won't be afraid of sharing new ideas for solutions across all the different efforts.

If Japanese men don't understand that, there's little we can do, except wait for them to die off, so younger, more flexible, minds will come into power.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The JSDF started as a part of the National Police Force, under U.S, pressure and remaining in compliance with Article 9 of the Constitutuion, which itself was put in place by the United States. However, the JSDF do not have police powers and have never been used in that manner. The JSDF is a defacto Military organization.

Sexual harassment in the military ia a problem in every country that has a military.

"More than 400 cases of sexual assault between soldiers have been reported annually from 2017 to 2020 in South Korea, according to data submitted to Kwon In-sook, a female lawmaker."

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/15/world/asia/south-korea-military-sexual-assault-suicide.html#:~:text=More%20than%20400%20cases%20of,%2Dsook%2C%20a%20female%20lawmaker.

This is an issue which must be managed with the utmost urgency as it destroys the team cohesion necessary for the proper functioning of any military unit. Offenders need to be severely prosecuted, including those of higher ranks who may be guilty of cover-ups.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

OssanAmericaMay 14  10:08 pm JST

> Sexual harassment in the military ia a problem in every country that has a military.

Whataboutism is unhelpful, as it deflects attention from a local problem by pointing to its existence elsewhere avoids accountability and distracts from finding constructive solutions for the immediate issue.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

What do you mean by need women? No military needs women any more than they need men, they need the most qualified people for the job.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

> ClanPsiToday  01:55 pm JST

What do you mean by need women? No military needs women any more than they need men, they need the most qualified people for the job.

Having women in a nation's military or any national organization is important for diversity of perspectives, improved decision-making, and better recruitment and retention.

In Japan, where traditional gender roles have historically limited women's participation in the workforce, including the military, promoting gender equality in the military can serve as a catalyst for broader societal change, enhancing Japan's global standing and strengthening its defense capabilities in an increasingly interconnected world.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

METATTOKYOMay 15  09:07 am JST

OssanAmericaMay 14  10:08 pm JST

Sexual harassment in the military ia a problem in every country that has a military.*

Whataboutism is unhelpful, as it deflects attention from a local problem by pointing to its existence elsewhere avoids accountability and distracts from finding constructive solutions for the immediate issue.

My comment is not whataboutism. If you actually read it I make it clear that all militaries have this problem and they all need to eliminate it. Please read before posting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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