SAPPORO – A woman whose son is serving with the Self-Defense Forces is a tireless campaigner against recently enacted security legislation, and she is no less vocal now that an Upper House election is approaching.
The resident of the Hokkaido city of Chitose is in her 50s and goes by the pseudonym “Kazuko Taira” (“Peace Child”).
She has severed communication with her trooper son, a 20-something father of two, after he urged her to cease her activism. She said she does not want to cause him trouble.
“The worst thing for me would be to see my son die,” the woman said. “I will continue saying ‘no’ as a mother.”
Her son is a member of the Ground Self Defense Force’s Chitose-based 7th Division, elements of which were dispatched in late May to South Sudan for peacekeeping work. He was not among the troops sent.
On June 19, Taira addressed a gathering in Odori Park, central Sapporo. The event was organized by young people opposed to the recent security legislation, which they believe will increase the likelihood of SDF members being put in harm’s way.
“My son joined the SDF to protect his family and country,” the mother said. “I didn’t raise him to exchange shots with child soldiers in regional conflicts overseas under the name of international contributions.”
The woman said her son, a father of two, joined the SDF to earn a stable income after a company he was working for ran into financial difficulties.
When she started speaking out a few years ago on such issues as the dispatch of SDF units to Iraq, his superiors told him not to communicate with her, she said. He informed her that her activism could cost him his job.
She recalls him saying: “I’m not a warmonger. I train because it’s my job, and I’m paid a salary for my work.” She replied that there are other ways to make a living.
In mid-April, the mother handed her son a letter that said she would continue her activities no matter what he thinks, because she wants him to stay alive. That was the last contact between them.
“We are on the verge of Article 9,” Taira said, referring to the belief among peace campaigners that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will try to amend a peace clause in the Constitution after the upcoming Upper House poll.
“I hope young people will participate in moves to create peace and not be misled by sweet-sounding pledges.”