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Jason Morgan

【Viewpoints】It Is Time for a National Readiness Corps in Japan

Jason Morgan / 2022.03.22 (Tue)

March 22, 2022

In recent weeks, the world has witnessed something extraordinary in Ukraine. Under invasion by a professional Russian military with every advantage in terms of funding, equipment, and numerical force, the people of Ukraine have taken up arms against the invaders. Ukraine’s standing army has been supplemented by average citizens. Many women have also volunteered for the defense of their homeland.

The lessons in this for Japan are obvious. I believe that the government of Japan must act immediately to ready willing Japanese citizens to defend their country in the event of a full-scale invasion or other emergency.

Whole-of-society response

While Japan does marshal the highly-trained and superbly capable Self-Defense Forces (SDF), the reality is that a large-scale assault by a hostile foreign power, or a major natural disaster, will require a whole-of-society response. Also, while there is an SDF Reserve force for those who do not wish to serve in the SDF full-time, participants still comprise a small fraction of Japanese citizens. Even the SDF Reserves may be too much of a time commitment for the average person. More help is needed.

To disseminate as widely as possible the skills which a national emergency will require, I propose the establishment of an all-volunteer National Readiness Corps. National Readiness Corps volunteers would continue to work at ordinary professions, but would undergo a one-time training session in preparation for defending Japan and assisting during times of crisis. This training could be for as little as one three-day weekend. Trainees would learn elementary military and survival skills such as bivouacking and using and caring for firearms. Trainees would also be taught invaluable lifesaving techniques such as CPR, basic firefighting tactics, triage, and the field-dressing of wounds.

All guns, ammunition, and other weapons used to build up the National Readiness Corps would be kept under strict control by the government and made available only for training or in the event of an emergency.

Defending Japan against invasion would be just one potential way in which a National Readiness Corps could serve Japanese society. Operation Tomodachi demonstrated the tremendous advantage of the Self-Defense Forces during peacetime. A National Readiness Corps would multiply the good effects of the Self-Defense Forces by assisting with rescue and relief operations in the event of a natural disaster.

Rekindling patriotism

Also, because the National Readiness Corps would remain private citizens, they would not need to wait for orders from the government. They could help their neighbors immediately, whenever and wherever disaster struck, by treating the wounded, setting up temporary shelters, and helping to maintain order until the SDF could arrive.

Volunteers need not even be Japanese. Any resident of Japan holding a passport not issued by a hostile power should be welcomed to join the National Readiness Corps. In the event of a natural disaster or foreign invasion, everyone in Japan from a friendly country should be able to pitch in and help out.

Many young people I have met have told me that they would run away in the event of an invasion of Japan. A National Readiness Corps could serve as a focal point for rekindling patriotism in average Japanese people. A sense of shared responsibility and readiness to take concrete action to protect friends, family, neighbors, and hometowns would blossom through the training that volunteers in a National Readiness Corps would undergo. A renewed love for country would be one of the best side-effects of a National Readiness Corps and the example of service and dedication its members would set.

What is happening in Ukraine could happen in Japan. A National Readiness Corps can save lives and defend against invasion. The time to get ready is now.

Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan