Voices | VIEWS FROM THE STREET

Tokyo: Do you think conscription — in Japan or elsewhere — is a good thing or a bad idea?

Alice Gicqueau
Student, 16 (French)
I think conscription is a bad idea because we always say people are equal and can do what they want, and I myself am all for liberty and freedom of choice. To that end, people, whoever they are, must be able to do what they want, and if they don’t want to [join the military], that is quite alright.

Hugh Ashton
Author, 57 (English)
There are two sides to the issue. It is never a good idea to train people to kill, but arguably a professional military would do a better job and save the cost of training recruits each time a new group walks through the doors. Also, I don’t think the average Japanese would take kindly to conscription unless a distinct threat arose.

Yeo Youliang
Student, 19 (Singaporean)
Conscription is necessary, even though we may not actually want to go. I am from Singapore, and as a result of our small population we must go, but for me, as I have a slipped disc, it means I will be a clerk rather than have to do anything more physical. That said, I would be OK with the physical stuff if I was fully healthy.

Erika Itagaki
English teacher, 30 (Japanese)
In Japan, I don’t think that we need the conscription system because we are not supposed to be aggressive [under the Constitution] and should not be starting any wars. Even so, we do have a [de facto] military and should not be afraid of war. But, that said, I don’t want my own husband to have to go to war.

Dean Sopko
Educator, 45 (American)
Conscription is fundamentally immoral. Every individual is born with a natural right to self-ownership, and of all the ways governments systematically violate individuals’ rights, conscription is among the most egregious. Claiming control of a person’s life, even for a temporary period of time, is akin to slavery.

Jeremy Hyman
Financial adviser, 42 (American)
I see it as a good thing if it is used properly, and with no exceptions — especially for those with political or wealth-related connections. Of course, when looking at conscription overall, it is dangerous to the individual in that he or she could lose his or her life, but I think it has more positive overtones than negative.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? E-mail community@japantimes.co.jp

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