Defense Minister Tomomi Inada fended off calls for her resignation Wednesday after she suggested a day earlier that the Self-Defense Forces backed a Liberal Democratic Party candidate in the upcoming Tokyo assembly election despite the SDF's strict policy of political neutrality.

While campaigning for the candidate on Tuesday vying for a seat in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward, Inada was recorded by the media as telling a crowd of local supporters: "On behalf of the Defense Ministry, the SDF and the LDP and as Defense Minister, I ask for your support."

Inada's words — and more specifically the reference to the SDF — immediately sparked the ire of opposition parties, which saw the comment as an attempt to use the SDF for political purposes. Article 61 of the Self-Defense Forces Law explicitly forbids personnel in the organization from engaging in political activity, with the exception of voting.