Following the previous translation of Misa Sakurabayashi’s article on the personal and organizational self-sufficiency of the Self-Defense Forces, I mentioned that I would try to post a few more translations. Yes, they are cheerleading articles. Yes, they lack critical thought. All that is true, but they also give an insight into the struggles the SDF face on the ground, and give them moral-boosting PR support at a time when it couldn’t possibly be more necessary. The translated article below was published on April 18th, and looks at the determination and emotion involved in the SDF’s operations up north.

Bravery and Determination Beyond Reason: The Resilient Gentle Warriors

Facing dire conditions, the SDF have worked hard to bring small comfort to the victims of the Tohoku Earthquake

Facing dire conditions, the SDF have worked hard to bring small comfort to the victims of the Tohoku Earthquake (Source: Shikoku News)

“Hey… come on, you should stop,” called out a policeman to a nearby Ministry of Defense staff member as he passed a group of Ground Self-Defense Force members in their determined underwater search.

The remains of the drowned briefly float to the surface before submerging again, for about a week the accumulating carbon dioxide causes them to rise up but eventually they sink once more, never to rise up again. It was already past that time when the policeman stopped to give his advice.

After informing he company commander, he was told, “I know. We know, but no matter what we can’t stop. It might be illogical, but no matter what… Am I wrong?”

The policeman considered whether allowing them to continue their fruitless search was right or wrong. There was a long silence before he replied: “Carry on.”

A platoon passing by a school was asked by a teacher: “We really need to recover the report cards from the school vault.” The teacher said they wanted to give these tiny keepsakes to the parents whose children are still missing.

Retrieving the safe from boggy conditions was a Herculean task, but the platoon set to work trying to find something  to pull up onto solid ground. A superior officer happened to pass by on an inspection. The platoon commander became flustered: “I’m sorry. After this we’ll concentrate on the search, but please overlook what is happening now,” he begged.

Despite this, however, he was told, “You’re doing a wonderful job.”

Strictly speaking, what the officer saw was inefficient and against the rules, but the feeling that what is important to others is important to oneself transcends such reason. This is the kind of decisions and overlooked bravery that these men are performing.

Even if they think it’s no use, even if they know its a waste of time, everyday people gather at the same place to try and find their missing family members. Nearby SDF members determinedly continue their work. What kind of support are they receiving?

“I want to join the SDF.” An elementary school student sighed. It was natural to ask why.

Wondering everyday whether his father will return after being swept away by the tsunami, staring out at the sea, a young SDF member called out to him. The boy told him the reason, and without saying anything, the SDF member placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder and the pair looked out at the sea together.

Perhaps there will be no way of getting over the sadness of the disaster, but the story of these resilient gentle warrior will be etched into the hearts of the Japanese people.

It is now one month on from the disaster. This spring, the SDF will begin training its new recruits.

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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