The Japanese government has put the Self Defense Forces on notice that speakers who may criticize the government are not to be invited to SDF events. This follows remarks made at an air show at Iruma Airbase in Saitama, in which a speaker said, “Let’s topple the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration soon. All of you must feel the same in your heart.” DPJ lawmakers who were in attendance at the air show were not amused and complained.
“Even if one is a civilian, (remarks) made inside the SDF facilities are to be restricted, because if that is not the case, there could be a misconception that SDF members were involved,” Sengoku told the Upper House Budget Committee.
The controversy started when the Defense Ministry issued a notice last week advising defense officials and top military brass not to invite guests who could make remarks of a political nature that could compromise the SDF’s neutrality, to SDF events. (Link)
Some are framing this as a freedom of speech matter. Although those people do have a point, so does the government. Military interference in Japanese domestic politics has led to some…rather unfortunate results in the past. As a direct result, the postwar Japanese government has been unwavering in its demand that the military keep out of politics.
That having been said, a blanket ban on people who may criticize the government seems like overkill and could be overinterpreted. (For one thing, if you interpreted that as anyone who dislikes the Kan government, that would be 74% of Japanese citizens.) One would think that merely asking someone who may have anti-government tendencies to refrain from commenting on political matters would be sufficient, instead of issuing a blanket ban. If you can’t keep your politics out of an event, you can’t come. Simple.
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
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