politics

Senior SDF member punished for insulting lawmaker on street

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Nice to see that folks took this seriously. He was probably on the fast track, working where he was, and now will have to learn to control his mouth.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

He’s banished from Tokyo. Is that really a punishment?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

But the admonishment will still lead to a cut in his bonus payment

Would like to know just how much

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Good to hear he only got a slap on the wrist, the SDF officer was exercising his freedom of speech and only stating the obvious that the opposition are fast resembling NK fawning traitors by trying to stifle freedom of speech. The opposition is on very thin ice

5 ( +11 / -6 )

dcog9065Today 10:00 am JST

Good to hear he only got a slap on the wrist, the SDF officer was exercising his freedom of speech...

Are you in denial or just ignorant of what SDF personnel are and are not allowed to do?

"Article 58 of the Self-Defense Forces Law prohibits SDF personnel from behaving in a manner that tarnishes their credibility while Article 61 limits their political activities except for exercising the right to vote."

" A by-law states that SDF personnel must not abuse their authority and position to express political views or criticisms of policy with the aim of exerting an impact on political trends."

Or is any of that information incorrect?

...and only stating the obvious that the opposition are fast resembling NK fawning traitors by trying to stifle freedom of speech.

It's funny how closely expressions like "fawning traitors" resemble NK propaganda. If anyone was trying to stifle freedom of speech it was that major with his tirade against what Konishi was saying in the Diet.

The opposition is on very thin ice

What's the worst that can happen? They've already sunk just about as low as they can get. Even people who hate the LDP can see that. Or perhaps, judging by your rhetoric, you think that the Dear Leader and Great Helmsman Comrade Abe should pass an enabling law to ban other political parties, have their members arrested for treason and obliterated with anti-aircraft guns?

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Simon! Brilliant Post!!

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

So much for freedom of speech...

5 ( +10 / -5 )

No swear, discussion between two men in a public space, no threat...no bad behaviour.

I cannot see where credibility, political activity, or abuse has taken place while in a jogger's clothing sweating probably.

Freedom of speech ?

4 ( +9 / -5 )

so his punishment is to be sent to Fukoaka? No massive earthquake, pesky Olympics or outrageous prices, but nice food, nice climate and friendly people?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

So much for freedom of speech...

I see that there are plenty of folks who choose to stay ignorant about what or what not constitutes freedom of speech for those in the JSDF.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

@Simon FostonToday 10:46 am JST

You cannot nullify an argument about freedom of speech just by pointing to the presence of a statute. In fact, in that case, the statute itself is unwert for reason of incompatibility with the Constitution and also the ICCPR, which Japan signed.

@YubaruToday 02:44 pm JST

I see that there are plenty of folks who choose to stay ignorant about what or what not constitutes freedom of speech for those in the JSDF.

What happened to article 14, about equality. So, the definition of freedom of speech is reduced for certain members of society? This doesn't sound very equal.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiToday  02:56 pm JST

@Simon FostonToday 10:46 am JST

You cannot nullify an argument about freedom of speech just by pointing to the presence of a statute. In fact, in that case, the statute itself is unwert for reason of incompatibility with the Constitution and also the ICCPR, which Japan signed.

Presumably this man signed up for the SDF knowing what the statute was. Incompatible with the Constitution or not, he agreed to be bound by rules that he broke.

@YubaruToday 02:44 pm JST

"I see that there are plenty of folks who choose to stay ignorant about what or what not constitutes freedom of speech for those in the JSDF."

What happened to article 14, about equality. So, the definition of freedom of speech is reduced for certain members of society? This doesn't sound very equal.

It's a fact of life that if you do some jobs there are things you just can't say regardless of whether you have the constitutional right to or not. For instance, I'm pretty sure a waiter in a restaurant or a sales assistant in a shop would get more than a slap on the wrist for asking customers if they were stupid, or telling them they were disgusting. Teachers can and do get punished for refusing to stand for the Kimigayo, but perhaps you have no problem with that?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Jonathan PrinToday 01:56 pm JST

No swear, discussion between two men in a public space...

Doesn't sound like it was much of a discussion.

, no threat...no bad behaviour.

You don't think going up to someone you don't know and subjecting them to verbal abuse constitutes bad behaviour, then? It's the kind of thing you would do personally?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

What happened to article 14, about equality. So, the definition of freedom of speech is reduced for certain members of society? This doesn't sound very equal.

Yes, exactly, welcome to the real world. Don't like it, don't join, it's THAT simple! It's NOT equal, they do not have the same rights as average citizens, and like my previous post, people are CHOOSING to stay ignorant, and keep their heads in the sand.

The JSDF like just about any other military in the world, is NOT a democracy. You can not run a military by group discussion, it's a dictatorship, that is a fact too!

ANd be happy it is, because if every time someone needed help or assistance and they had to wait to get a group to agree about whether or not to participate, PEOPLE WOULD DIE! Quite being so naive!

t's a fact of life that if you do some jobs there are things you just can't say regardless of whether you have the constitutional right to or not. For instance, I'm pretty sure a waiter in a restaurant or a sales assistant in a shop would get more than a slap on the wrist for asking customers if they were stupid, or telling them they were disgusting. Teachers can and do get punished for refusing to stand for the Kimigayo, but perhaps you have no problem with that?

Yeah right, cry me a river, BUT I am NOT talking about these other civilian related positions, this article is about the JSDF, they are, like it or not a different subject, just like any other military in the world, you give up certain rights when you join.

Don't like it. Don't join.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

YubaruToday  06:49 pm JST

Yeah right, cry me a river, BUT I am NOT talking about these other civilian related positions, this article is about the JSDF, they are, like it or not a different subject, just like any other military in the world, you give up certain rights when you join.

That was pretty much my point, actually. Of course being in the SDF is not like having a civilian job, but these "certain members of society" surely include people in civilian occupations who are also not at liberty to just insult anyone who annoys them. Right wingers clearly approve of SDF personnel harassing politicians that they perceive to be crypto-communist peaceniks, but I'm sure that they would be outraged if anyone else behaved in a similar fashion, or if it were an LDP politician getting the abuse. Then they'd be calling it harassment and intimidation, not "exercising the right to freedom of speech."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Simon Foston Today 05:15 pm JST

Presumably this man signed up for the SDF knowing what the statute was. Incompatible with the Constitution or not, he agreed to be bound by rules that he broke.

Not all rights can be waived by consent. For example, in Japan, you are not allowed to consent to people helping with your suicide, it remains a violation of the criminal law.

I'll also point out in his favor that when he signed up, he was 17-18. In Japanese law, he wasn't even an adult. And let's not pretend he can change jobs. We all know Japan is not America - the people and culture here just don't have the same degree of mobility. I think one can suggest there is a bit of inherent unfairness in binding someone for 30 or so years on the basis of something he signed when he was 17-18.

There have been a number of court cases recently basically involving female idols who signed away their freedom to date for a number of years, back when they didn't even really realize they might find something they really like. I remember people being very sympathetic to them...

I'm pretty sure a waiter in a restaurant or a sales assistant in a shop

Yes, but they were on duty. You actually raise a good point when it comes to Kimigayo, though not in the direction you expect. In Kimigayo, the issue of law is whether a principal can give orders to teachers to stand for the Kimigayo while they are on duty as a work-related order, or whether that would be unconstitutional.

To make the two cases broadly equal, we'll have to make the SDF officer on duty. Next, his commander would be ordering him to stop, repeatedly, and the SDF officer would be disobeying that order (thus insubordinate). Do you see how these cases are a bit different?

In the end, the courts ruled that it is a valid order (b/c if principals can't even order their teachers to stand for a few minutes, they would be quite unable to give any worthwhile orders at all). However, they have also said it is an "indirect" infringement of conscience (so they acknowledge the conflict), and they also made it clear in light of the freedom of conscience issue, there is a limit to the degree of disciplinary action that can be imposed.

Which in the end, is what dcog9065 (the guy you originally replied to) was saying. He did not say the SDF officer did not break a regulation or that he deserved zero punishment. He just said that in light of the fact the SDF officer was exercising his freedom of speech, the punishment should be moderated and he was glad that seemed to be done.

I must also note in reality, the bulk of the damage has already been done. The so-called "bonus" is a relatively stable portion of the Japanese salary, so in effect he got a pay cut. And with that kind of mark, he is almost certainly blocked from the General ranks, maybe even the full Colonel rank ... there are many other officers without that mark and further he is being bumped from service in those central posts. This one will most likely retire as a Lieutenant Colonel (about the base for an academy grad).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiToday  12:01 am JST

@Simon Foston Today 05:15 pm JST

"Presumably this man signed up for the SDF knowing what the statute was. Incompatible with the Constitution or not, he agreed to be bound by rules that he broke."

Not all rights can be waived by consent. For example, in Japan, you are not allowed to consent to people helping with your suicide, it remains a violation of the criminal law.

I don't see how one law aimed at protecting life can be equated with another aimed at ensuring appropriate behaviour from public servants.

I'll also point out in his favor that when he signed up, he was 17-18. In Japanese law, he wasn't even an adult. And let's not pretend he can change jobs. We all know Japan is not America - the people and culture here just don't have the same degree of mobility. I think one can suggest there is a bit of inherent unfairness in binding someone for 30 or so years on the basis of something he signed when he was 17-18.

So do you think they should change the law so SDF personnel can say what they like about the elected representatives of the public they serve, and harass them if they don't like the cut of their jib? I don't care how old he was when he signed up anyway. I would expect even a 17 or 18 year old to show a bit more maturity and restraint than this individual was capable of after almost two decades of service.

There have been a number of court cases recently basically involving female idols who signed away their freedom to date for a number of years, back when they didn't even really realize they might find something they really like. I remember people being very sympathetic to them...*

Yes, I feel a bit more sympathy for a young woman who isn't allowed to have relationships than for a whiny man-child who can't have a rant when he feels like it and should in fact be acting as a role model for the lower ranks.

"I'm pretty sure a waiter in a restaurant or a sales assistant in a shop"

Yes, but they were on duty. You actually raise a good point when it comes to Kimigayo, though not in the direction you expect. In Kimigayo, the issue of law is whether a principal can give orders to teachers to stand for the Kimigayo while they are on duty as a work-related order, or whether that would be unconstitutional.

To make the two cases broadly equal, we'll have to make the SDF officer on duty. Next, his commander would be ordering him to stop, repeatedly, and the SDF officer would be disobeying that order (thus insubordinate). Do you see how these cases are a bit different?*

I think the main difference is actually that the SDF law applies whether SDF personnel are on duty or not. Doesn't it? Otherwise how could any disciplinary measures have been taken?

Which in the end, is what dcog9065 (the guy you originally replied to) was saying. He did not say the SDF officer did not break a regulation or that he deserved zero punishment. He just said that in light of the fact the SDF officer was exercising his freedom of speech, the punishment should be moderated and he was glad that seemed to be done.

Maybe. I wouldn't presume any such thing about what another person was saying or thinking, personally.

I must also note in reality, the bulk of the damage has already been done. The so-called "bonus" is a relatively stable portion of the Japanese salary, so in effect he got a pay cut. And with that kind of mark, he is almost certainly blocked from the General ranks, maybe even the full Colonel rank ... there are many other officers without that mark and further he is being bumped from service in those central posts. This one will most likely retire as a Lieutenant Colonel (about the base for an academy grad).

"dcog9065" said it was, and I quote, "good to hear he only got a slap on the wrist." What you're describing sounds quite a bit worse than a slap on the wrist, don't you think? If I thought a minor reprimand was all he deserved I'm not sure how I would feel about him getting a pay cut and his promotion opportunities curtailed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Simon Foston Today 08:52 am JST

I don't see how one law aimed at protecting life can be equated with another aimed at ensuring appropriate behaviour from public servants.

They both concern rights. One is the right to life, and the other is the right to free speech.

So do you think they should change the law so SDF personnel can say what they like about the elected representatives of the public they serve

I actually do, and so far you have not been presenting me with reasons to think otherwise. The people of Japan certainly have no reservations dissing the SDF, the moreso in the past. In fact, being able to speak as freely as the regular person on this issue may actually prevent such incidents.

I would expect even a 17 or 18 year old to show a bit more maturity and restraint than this individual was capable of after almost two decades of service.

While I'll give you some points on that, perhaps then he should only suffer a similar level of consequences that would befall say a businessman of similar age for a similar act?

Yes, I feel a bit more sympathy for a young woman who isn't allowed to have relationships than for a whiny man-child who can't have a rant when he feels like it and should in fact be acting as a role model for the lower ranks.

Have you considered the possibility that it may be his sense of responsibility towards the lower ranks that has motivated this outburst?

What escapes almost all Westerners when they see the equipment and the men is how legally restricted the SDF is. Tom Clancy might have written Debt of Honor about aggressive Japanese, but real Japanese SDF officers tend to see the problem as whether they'll even be allowed to fight in self-defense given the current legal structure of Japan.

For a easily understandable example of the poor state of "legal preparation", in comparison to the medics in foreign militaries, the range of interventions (thus, the injured he can save) a SDF medic can administer is severely limited in comparison to his foreign counterpart because a lot of what his foreign counterpart can do is considered "medical acts" and can only be done by a doctor.

They also get allocated the worst frequencies, so the radios don't penetrate walls nearly as well as their foreign counterparts.

Live 20 years under such conditions, and you may want to throttle one of those opposition lawmakers whose inaction and resistance helps ensure none of this gets changed?

I think the main difference is actually that the SDF law applies whether SDF personnel are on duty or not. Doesn't it? Otherwise how could any disciplinary measures have been taken?

Again, you can't justify punishments for exercise of a freedom just by pointing to a law. Or do you agree with the Chinese government concerning the treatment of "dissidents" like Liu Xiaobo. They have a law they can point to too.

Maybe. I wouldn't presume any such thing about what another person was saying or thinking, personally.

Yet you presumed he is in "denial" or "ignorant" about what SDF personnel are and are not allowed to do? (Yes, you used an interrogative, but I really cannot say a reader would see it that way).

In official punishment terms, yes that was a slap on the wrist. I don't know if dcog9605 thought as far as to the realistic consequences of even a "slap on the wrist". However, either way, the only way to avoid a high probability of this outcome would be to completely fumon the entire affair, so he may as well be happy for what can be done.

I'm sure you've heard of the term zero defects, have you? The SDF isn't quite as competitive as the US military b/c something like half the SDF officers are from the ranks and those don't really get to promote past Major. Nevertheless that still leaves a lot of competition and few decisive ways to tell them apart. You can easily see how this little black mark would likely be the determinant, can you?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiToday  01:16 pm JST

@Simon Foston Today 08:52 am JST

"I don't see how one law aimed at protecting life can be equated with another aimed at ensuring appropriate behaviour from public servants."

They both concern rights. One is the right to life, and the other is the right to free speech.

A bit tenuous, especially given that SDF personnel aren't completely forbidden from saying what they like. Assisted suicide is illegal under any circumstances, SDF members can at least blow off steam in private.

"So do you think they should change the law so SDF personnel can say what they like about the elected representatives of the public they serve..."

I actually do, and so far you have not been presenting me with reasons to think otherwise.*

I see you have cut the quote a bit short there. I can't really comment unless you have something to say about the rest of it.

While I'll give you some points on that, perhaps then he should only suffer a similar level of consequences that would befall say a businessman of similar age for a similar act?

The consequences for a middle-management businessman in his mid-30s would depend a bit on the working conditions at his company, wouldn't they? I can see some companies firing or demoting people who carry on like that.

Have you considered the possibility that it may be his sense of responsibility towards the lower ranks that has motivated this outburst?

No. I'm not considering it very seriously now as it's pure speculation.

What escapes almost all Westerners when they see the equipment and the men is how legally restricted the SDF is. Tom Clancy might have written Debt of Honor about aggressive Japanese, but real Japanese SDF officers tend to see the problem as whether they'll even be allowed to fight in self-defense given the current legal structure of Japan.

I don't pay any attention at all to anything Tom Clancy ever wrote.

For a easily understandable example of the poor state of "legal preparation", in comparison to the medics in foreign militaries, the range of interventions (thus, the injured he can save) a SDF medic can administer is severely limited in comparison to his foreign counterpart because a lot of what his foreign counterpart can do is considered "medical acts" and can only be done by a doctor.

They also get allocated the worst frequencies, so the radios don't penetrate walls nearly as well as their foreign counterparts.*

Live 20 years under such conditions, and you may want to throttle one of those opposition lawmakers whose inaction and resistance helps ensure none of this gets changed?*

All very sad to be sure, but I don't think it's anything to do with why the major was angry at Konishi. All the indications are that he was getting at him for his opposition to changing Article 9 and his criticism of how activity logs were handled.

Again, you can't justify punishments for exercise of a freedom just by pointing to a law.

Well, you can't justify anyone's conduct by ascribing motives to them that they may not actually have had, i.e. concern for the lower ranks and annoyance about radios. However if the law stipulates that certain liberties are to be restricted I think that's plenty of justification for punishment.

Yet you presumed he is in "denial" or "ignorant" about what SDF personnel are and are not allowed to do? (Yes, you used an interrogative, but I really cannot say a reader would see it that way).

I did indeed use an interrogative so I wasn't presuming anything at all. How particular readers might see that is not my problem.

However, either way, the only way to avoid a high probability of this outcome would be to completely fumon the entire affair, so he may as well be happy for what can be done.

Sorry, you've lost me. This outcome? What outcome? "Fumon" the entire affair?

The SDF isn't quite as competitive as the US military b/c something like half the SDF officers are from the ranks and those don't really get to promote past Major. Nevertheless that still leaves a lot of competition and few decisive ways to tell them apart. You can easily see how this little black mark would likely be the determinant, can you?

Quite right too. I would be surprised if any military organisation let anyone who behaved in the same way to advance any higher in the ranks. On the other hand, if this major had at least had the sense not to announce himself as an SDF member and the maturity not to throw around terms like "stupid" and "disgusting" then a "slap on the wrist" could have meant little more than that and he could have got on with what might have been a promising career.

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