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Can the SDF age gracefully?

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WASHINGTON – The security environment around Japan has become increasingly tense with North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, as well as China’s rising power and expansionary military strategy without transparency. In such a situation, the Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces must secure highly qualified personnel who can respond to diversified and internationalized missions.

However, despite rising expectations from the public for the ministry and the SDF, the recruitment of uniformed personnel has been a serious challenge. In fact, as of March 31, 2018, the number of authorized positions for uniformed SDF personnel was 247,154, while the actual number was 226,789, a gap of about 20,000 people and a staffing rate of 91.8 percent.

Most recently, the National Defense Program Guidelines for fiscal 2019 and beyond identified securing human resources for SDF personnel as “an imminent challenge in the face of shrinking and aging population with declining birth rates.” Therefore, it is important to analyze the current population shift in Japan and explore how to reinforce the human resource base in the SDF.

Japan’s aging challenge is serious. The government’s white paper on the low fertility rate and........

© The Japan Times