Abe vows follow through on measures to keep SDF safe as security laws set to be enacted

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday expressed his resolve to make full preparations for Self-Defense Forces missions under the controversial security legislation, which comes into force March 29.

“We need to make careful and thorough preparations so that new missions under the legislation are carried out appropriately with the safety (of personnel) ensured,” Abe said a National Defense Academy graduation ceremony in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

He suggested that the preparations will include drawing up rules of conduct for SDF personnel and conducting exercises.

The security legislation is “a conclusion of full discussions on how to protect the lives and peaceful livelihood of the people in any circumstances,” Abe said. “The missions of SDF personnel will involve danger, as in the past, but this is to reduce the risks of the people.”

Abe condemned North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs as impermissible, calling them direct and serious threats to Japan.

He also noted repeated incursions into Japanese airspace and territorial waters in the southwestern part of the nation, an indirect reference to Chinese government ships’ intrusions into waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China also claims the islands, which it calls Diaoyu.

“We cannot turn our eyes away from the cold reality of an increasing severe security environment,” Abe said.

The fiscal 2015 graduating class of the four-year defense academy totaled 419, including 31 women. The total excludes students from abroad.

Of them, the number of cadets declining commissions as SDF officers came to 47, nearly double the 25 in the previous year. They accounted for 11.2 percent of the class, the fourth-highest level ever and the first percentage higher than 10 percent in 25 years.

In addition to recent improvements in the job market, the sharp rise may reflect the enactment of the security legislation, which expands the scope of overseas activities the SDF can engage in.