National

Japan eyes hike in starting pay for SDF members as recruitment numbers falter

JIJI

The Defense Ministry is considering an increase to the starting pay for Self-Defense Forces members from fiscal 2020, which begins in April next year, according to sources.

The ministry aims to narrow the wage gap between SDF members and police officers in a bid to lure more applicants to the SDF, the sources said.

After negotiations with the Finance Ministry, the Defense Ministry hopes to submit a bill to revise the law on wages for its employees to an extraordinary Diet session that will start Oct. 4.

Currently, the initial monthly pay is set at ¥133,500 for fixed-term SDF member candidates and at ¥169,900 for SDF cadets employed for life, both lower than the ¥171,200 set for police officers hired by the central government.

The ministry aims to increase starting pay by some ¥20,000 for SDF member candidates and several thousands of yen for cadets for permanent positions.

Necessary annual costs for the pay hikes are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of yen.

The number of newly recruited SDF members fell for five straight years from fiscal 2014, as many people found jobs at private-sector companies amid the economy’s recovery. The decline also reflected the county’s falling number of births.

In its midterm defense program adopted late last year, the government said it will step up efforts to improve working conditions for SDF members, including wages.

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