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Regarding the June 13 front-page Kyodo article “GSDF ranger unit marches through central Tokyo“: It is strange that so many seem to truly believe that a country can defend its interests and territory without the need for an army. It seems that Japan’s peaceful Constitution has brought about this odd myth, which has misled a lot of Japanese people.

Several decades ago, some municipalities refused to let members of the Self-Defense Forces attend the Coming of Age Ceremony in January on the grounds that the SDF’s existence went against Article 9 of the Constitution. When the Japan Airlines plane crashed on Mount Osutaka in 1986, SDF trucks were stubbornly asked to pay expressway toll fees while on the way to rescue victims. Some trucks could not get there because individual SDF members did not have enough money with them to pay.

Thanks to SDF rescue efforts after the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, Japanese people have developed more confidence in the SDF. If the SDF units had not served well in the wake of that disaster, they could not have conducted training in central Tokyo.

These days the tension between China and neighboring countries keeps increasing even as the United States has no choice but to reduce its military budget. It is high time that Japan started reconsidering SDF roles that comply with the spirit of a constitutional amendment.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

shuichi john watanabe

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