A child salutes SDF relief workers in Tohoku

A child salutes SDF members in Tohoku (Source: MoD)

Alex Martin at The Japan Times has an interesting article on the psychological and societal strains and benefits of Self-Defense Force operations in the Tohoku disaster. For an organization that is constitutionally-illegitimate, socially unappreciated, yet essential to Japanese security, disaster relief operations have always been a welcome chance to show the SDF’s worth. This time, more than ever, the SDF has risen to the challenges faced by the nation – but such efforts are not without their difficulties:

“Rebuilding the disaster-stricken nation will obviously be a priority, but I believe people have understood the importance of the SDF, and may consider it beneficial to increase its spending and size,” [Kazuhisa] Ogawa said.

As [former PM] Yoshida pointed out half a century ago, the nation seems to be greeting the SDF’s work, as well as that of the U.S. forces in this time of crisis, with abundant praise.

“I’ve always had respect for the SDF, but the work they are doing now has enhanced my appreciation,” said Wakana Hagiwara, a 30-year-old Tokyo office worker who personally knows Maritime Self-Defense Force members involved in the search and rescue missions.

“When you consider the number of dead bodies they deal with, and the extreme conditions they must have to endure, I only have respect for them,” she said.

Ogawa of SRIIC said that while dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder remains an ongoing issue, he has spoken to an SDF general who was concerned that many of its members are experiencing a “high” from their relentless efforts.

Some, he said, are even refusing to rest when ordered and are “working until they fall.”

“It’s like a runner’s high, the idea that they are working for the good of the people, coupled by the gratitude they receive from the disaster victims; it seems to keep them going until they burn out,” Ogawa said.

Read the full original article here…

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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