Japan: Suicide Rate for SDF Veterans of Iraq War Higher than U.S. Troops

5-02-08, 10:18 am

Original source: Akahata

The Ministry of Defense has revealed that a Ground Self-Defense Force member committed suicide early last year, bringing the total number of suicides by GSDF personnel after returning home following their Iraqi mission to eight.

A total of eight SDF members who had been dispatched to Iraq killed themselves, including the seven in the GSDF, plus one in the Air SDF, according to the ministry which disclosed this to Akahata’s reporter.

All GSDF units deployed to Iraq under the Special Measures Law returned to Japan in July 2006.

In January 2007, the ministry told Akahata that six GSDF members killed themselves after returning from Iraq. However, the Ministry of Defense refused to reveal the details, including their names.

According to internal documents that Akahata obtained, the details of three GSDF members who committed suicides in FY 2005 are as follows: a 38-year-old major, who had been the head of the security unit in the 2nd dispatch to Iraq; a 29-year-old sergeant first class assigned to a transport unit in the 1st dispatch; and a 23-year-old private in the 4th dispatch.

According to the preparatory statement submitted to the Nagoya High Court in a suit calling for an end to the deployment of SDF units to Iraq, the suicide rate among SDF members returning from Iraq was extraordinarily high (as of June 2006); six deaths is equivalent to the suicide rate of 78.9 per 100,000 active soldiers; this is twice the average suicide rate for the three SDFs.

Astonishingly, the suicide rate in the GSDF is 6.4 times higher than that scored among U.S. Army active personnel (12.4 per 100,000), who had participated in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the paper.

Also, crewmembers who had been on board Maritime SDF ships in the Indian Ocean for refueling U.S. warships striking Afghanistan later killed themselves.

Despite this serious fact, the ministry has withheld the details of suicides of SDF personnel returning from Iraq apparently in order to avoid adding fuel to public opposition to dispatches abroad of the SDF.

The Nagoya High Court has ruled that the Air SDF’s transportation of U.S. forces in Iraq unconstitutional on the grounds that such activities are regarded as military activities in combat zones and therefore unconstitutional.” The ministry must make public the details of the SDF Iraq dispatches.

From Akahata