Plan gives SDF medics freer hand under fire

Critics warn of path to legal basis for overseas military involvement via collective self-defense

Kyodo

The government is looking to grant Self-Defense Forces paramedics more discretionary authority in treating wounded service members if Japan comes under attack.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants the SDF to play a greater security role abroad as part of his drive to redefine the nation’s security framework, a government source said Monday, adding the government hopes to establish a more effective logistic support system. He has also been urging that the ban on collective self-defense under the current interpretation of the Constitution be lifted.

Under the new plan, the Defense Ministry will allow SDF paramedics within five years to perform such medical procedures as creating an airway by cutting into the trachea and inserting a needle into the chest to release air and fluid, according to the source. But the paramedics will not be allowed to treat injured civilians.

SDF paramedics are bound by the Emergency Life-Saving Technician’s Law, which prohibits them from engaging in full-fledged medical operations, such as a tracheotomy.

Wounded U.S. service members fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq experienced better survival rates after American medics and corpsmen were allowed to perform full-scale medical procedures, including tracheotomies, and Japan is apparently trying to draw on that experience.

The planned enhanced procedures for SDF paramedics comes amid concerns about a potential shortage of doctors in emergencies.

  • Starviking

    Here is a story with its roots in corruption, which results in the needless deaths of countless people each year: doctors’ lobbies hobble paramedics’s life-saving options to protect their own interests.

    One would hope that some crusading newspaper would take up the pen and fight for justice…