Amid Rising Threats From China, North Korea, Japan's Military Faces Setback Due To Drop In Female Recruits, Increase In Harassment Cases: Report

Japan’s efforts to strengthen its military, amid rising threats of regional unrest from North Korea and China, are reportedly being hampered by a significant drop in female recruits and an increase in sexual harassment cases within the Self-Defence Forces (SDF).

What Happened: Female applications to the SDF have decreased by 12% in the year ending March 2023, following a series of sexual harassment incidents, Reuters reported on Monday.

Despite assurances from the defense ministry nine months ago to take stringent measures, it has yet to act on a crucial recommendation from an independent panel to establish a national system for reviewing anti-harassment training standards, according to two ministry officials.

The panel’s report, released in August, emphasized that the military’s inadequate harassment education and the absence of centralized oversight of training are contributing to the institution’s cultural issues.

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The defense ministry has acknowledged the severity of the issue, stating that harassment “must never be allowed, as it destroys mutual trust between service members and undermines their strength.” The ministry has been conducting harassment prevention lectures since 2023 and plans to invite specialists to review its training this year.

However, the ministry has not committed to implementing the panel’s recommendation to centralize oversight of training. The panel’s review found the ministry’s current training to be composed of “generic, superficial statements” that fall short in real-world scenarios.

The resolution of these issues is crucial as Japan grapples with the weighty legacy of its wartime past and seeks to bolster its military in response to escalating external threats.

Why It Matters: Japan’s recruitment challenges come at a time when the nation is seeking to strengthen its military capabilities in response to regional security threats. This includes recent initiatives to deepen military cooperation with the United States, as highlighted during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida‘s state visit, where approximately 70 new initiatives were announced to enhance military ties.

Moreover, the urgency for Japan to expand its military presence is underscored by the ongoing missile tests conducted by North Korea. With the fourth missile test of the year alarming both South Korea and Japan, the need for a robust and inclusive military force is more pressing than ever.

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsGlobalGeneralChinaJapanJapanese Self-Defence ForcesmilitaryNorth KoreaPooja RajkumariRecruitmentSexual Harassment
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