Japanese soldiers killed themselves at a rate consistently higher than the national average from 2003 to 2014, the government has revealed.
Suicides in the Self-Defense Forces totaled 1,044 over the 12-year period ended on March 31, and reached peaks of 100 in fiscal 2004 and 101 in fiscal 2005 and 2006, it said Friday.
Suicides fell to 82 in 2013 and bottomed out at 69 in 2014, but stayed higher than average, a written answer vetted by the Cabinet to a question from Lower House member Tomoko Abe of the Democratic Party of Japan said. The SDF average was usually 30 per 100,000 members. For civilians, it was 23.7 in 2014.
In the peak years, the Ground Self-Defense Force was in Iraq to aid reconstruction, and the Maritime Self-Defense Force was in the Indian Ocean to back the war against terrorism.
The suicide rate per 100,000 SDF members stood at 39.3 in fiscal 2004, and 38.6 in fiscal 2005 and 2006. In fact, it was over 30 for all 12 years except 2014, when it fell to 29.1. But even that surpassed the average of 23.7 for adults in 2014, the paper said.
The government also said 56 SDF members killed themselves after returning from overseas missions, up two from the previously disclosed number. The new cases involved two MSDF members who served in the Indian Ocean.
The causes of individual suicides are often difficult to pin down because there are various factors influencing each other, the written answer said.
Information from Kyodo added