‘Send ’em off to war’ quip puts Takebe in the hot seat

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Tsutomu Takebe, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, drew flak Friday over his remark the previous day that Japanese youths should serve in the Self-Defense Forces as part of educational reform efforts.

He made the comment at a lecture in Tokyo shortly before the government made it official that the troops deployed in Iraq will extend their mission.

“Even if the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education were changed, it would not mean that Japan could change,” Takebe said.

He was responding to a question about recent heinous crimes and a trend by many young people to not seek full-time employment.

Let young people “enter the SDF once, go to a place like Samawah, engage in activity with a tense atmosphere and be appreciated by locals, then (Japan) would change within three months or so,” he said.

On Friday, Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima urged Takebe to withdraw the remark, which she said was outrageous given that it was made at a time when the public is concerned about the safety of the troops.

“The remark made light of one’s life and sounded as if he was telling the young ‘freeters’ to get knocked into shape by going to Iraq,” she said.