SDF soldiers marching

SDF soldiers marching (Source: Hokkaido SDF Report)

The Japanese Self-Defense Forces have around 40,000 reservists in their ranks who engage in the occasional training around the year. They were formerly composed solely of former full-time SDF members, but opened their ranks to civilians in 2002. In the GSDF, these civilians would receive only five days of training per year and would be used as guards in the event of a national crisis, or to aid emergency work in the case of a natural disaster. The number of reserves among the three services has been fallen steadily over the past ten years.

Yesterday, Reuters Life featured an article on a fresh batch of civilian joining the GSDF reserves:

After saluting the national flag following an early morning formation drill, Tsuge and the other trainees, clad in uniforms and green helmets, slung rifles over their shoulders before marching to a field to practice surveillance and capturing enemy soldiers at gunpoint.

As a reservist with no military experience, Tsuge would not take part in front-line defense but could still be called on to guard army posts at home or to transport supplies. He could also be deployed to help the SDF in rescue work for earthquakes, floods and other disasters.

“I usually work in ordinary clothes so when I come in for training, put on my uniform and hold my rifle, I feel a sense of determination to do my duty,” said the 33-year-old Tsuge, a car salesman before an interest in tank engines led him to work at a military magazine, at the SDF’s Camp Takeyama in Yokosuka, 45 kilometers (28 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

“I have a family now, so I have a stronger feeling of wanting to protect my family and to protect my country,” added Tsuge, dressed in crisp-clean fatigues and boots, who has a baby son.

Read more at the Reuters site

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch