The prefectural Saga Shimbun reported on June 21st on the story of two members going AWOL from Camp Metabaru in the prefecture. More than previous reports of SDF members committing criminal acts, this raises questions of discipline at the base during a time of national emergency. It is selfish and unbecoming behavior that makes the SDF look back because it shows a lack of commitment to their work.

While many new recruits attempt to runaway during training, neither men were new recruits, and one was a senior NCO. Unlike the story of the MSDF sailor who attempted to get out of another deployment to the disaster zone by streaking in a public place, these men’s actions are less understandable. Thankfully for the SDF, this issue didn’t really make it outside the local media in Saga Prefecture. Also, I think the punishments given were far too lenient.

SDF Member Punished for Disobeying an Order to Attend Work – GSDF Camp Metabaru

AH-1S Cobra attached to the 3rd Anti-Tank Helicopter Unit at Camp Metabaru

AH-1S Cobra attached to the 3rd Anti-Tank Helicopter Unit at Camp Metabaru (Source: utecht_86)

At Ground Self-Defense Force Camp Metabaru (Yoshinogari-cho, Kanzaki-gun) on June 20th, for being absent without leave, a 53-year old male Sergeant Major of the 3rd Anti-Tank Helicopter Unit was suspended for four days, and a 21-year old male Leading Private from the Western Army Helicopter Group was suspended for 3 days as disciplinary measures. The Leading Private, “having had trouble in the course of his duties”, retired on the same day.

According to the Public Relations Office at the base, following the March 11th Great East Japan Earthquake, the Sergeant Major was ordered to help service helicopters on the 12th, but instead he was absent from work and went fishing. On the same day and night, and also the 13th, he was ordered to attend work, but by the afternoon he still hadn’t arrived. He commented, “The cause of the problem was my lack of skill and sense of purpose.”

On May 29th, the Leading Private did not return to his barracks before the curfew at 10:40 p.m., and was discovered at JR Hakata Station on June 1st at 8:40 p.m.

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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