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The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
In-depth critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific...and the world.

A Camouflaged Military: Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and Globalized Gender Mainstreaming

Fumika Sato


This paper examines the history of women in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. I focus on policy makers’ reasons for introducing women into the SDF, reasons that have nothing to do with gender equality. I apply a framework of “camouflaging” in my discussion of these reasons.



Gender, women, military, gender mainstreaming, camouflaging, Japanese Self-Defense Forces


Since the late 20th century, women have been admitted in growing into the world’s military organizations, finding their own positions in what was once a male sanctum. Most Western militaries began “the so-called second generation process of gender integration” after the 1970s.1 With the United States leading the way, this occurred at the peak of second-wave feminism, leading some to call this phenomenon a feminist “achievement.” At the same time, some opponents of gender integration in the military warned that the military risked being overrun by a conspiracy of feminists.2

Both theories are oversimplified or misleading. Regarding the former, not all feminists have supported women’s participation in the military. Most feminists were indifferent to issues pertaining to women in the military and some actively criticized women’s participation in the military as anti-feminist.3 The fact that some military officials supported gender integration counters the latter theory warning of the dangers of a military dominated by feminists. Military officials also rejected some conservative initiatives to exclude female soldiers from specific units, viewing these as incompatible with personnel requirements at a time when the military has struggled to recruit and faced the necessity to progressively lower standards for enlistment.4 In short, it is misleading to portray gender integration in the military as either a positive achievement resulting from the women’s movement or a politically motivated feminist intrusion. Neither accounts for the multifaceted reality of gender integration in the military.

As Orna Sasson-Levy observes, the military is an “extremely-gendered institution.”5 Its gendered character, however, has never been static. Often facing resistance from groups both inside and outside, its structure has constantly been in flux. Furthermore, gender integration has sometimes taken place under strategic and political considerations that were quite apart from the gender equality goals of feminists.6

It is often said that the military is a microcosm of the civilian world.7 Cynthia Enloe acutely points out, however, that the military is “more than just one more patriarchal institution.”8 It occupies a unique position in society as the institution most closely identified with the state, one that possesses its own financial, labor, and material resources.9 These characteristics make the military more than an institution that reflects gender relations in civil society.10 It is a fundamental site for defining “what behavior is appropriate, what roles are acceptable to become a man or a woman in our society.”11 As a crucial site for the construction of gender, the military is, thus, a vital field for scholars of gender studies.

In postwar Japan, however, social scientists have long avoided military studies. In a review of military sociology, Takahashi Saburo observes that there are war studies rather than military studies in postwar Japan, distinguishing the extensive literature on studies of Japanese and international war from studies of the military in society.12 Since the 1990s, new generations of scholars who did not directly experience the war have been making military studies interdisciplinary and observing military spheres as different cultures.13 Specifically, in the last decade Japanese scholars have begun to study the contemporary Japanese military and its place in Asian security and social history. For example, Tanaka Masakazu has been researching Asian militaries since 2003.14 Kawano Hitoshi analyzes the motivations of SDF officials for joining peacekeeping operations.15 Sabine Frühstück discloses the ‘uneasiness’ of the SDF soldiers regarding their roles, respectability, masculinities, and identities.16 Sasaki Tomoyuki traces the process by which the SDF endeavored to enlist popular support and to become “an SDF for the people” in postwar Japan.17 Mikanagi Yumiko sheds light on the Japanese government’s shift in defense policy, which was closely linked to the historical transformation of dominant norms of masculinity.18 My previous work on women in the SDF and this paper draw on these pioneering works.19

Whether the SDF is a “military” or not remains an unresolved question. However, several points require clarification. First, the budget of the SDF in 2010 was $54.5 billion, which was 3.3 percent of world military expenditures. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Japan ranked in the top six countries in the world in military expenditure.20 Second, the SDF increased in size since 1950 to an organization with 227,950 uniformed, professional members (including 11,797 women, 5.2 percent) in fiscal year 2010.21 Third, the SDF is equipped with some of the most updated, sophisticated weaponry. This includes F-15 jet fighters,22 Aegis warships, and HAWK (“Homing All the Way Killer”) air-defense guided missiles, although Japan explicitly eschews nuclear weaponry and research on nuclear weaponry. Fourth, since the 1990s, the SDF has repeatedly deployed overseas and conducted regular joint maneuvers with other states’ militaries, notably with that of the U.S.23 These points show that the SDF today has the capacity, if not the authority or the prerogative, to wield significant military force, and that constraints on its ability to do so have steadily eroded over time.

Neverthless, the Japanese government continues to maintain a formal commitment to Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution.24 Therefore, the SDF is not officially called a “military” by the Japanese government and each instance of SDF dispatch overseas, such as in Cambodia and most recently in Iraq, has touched off public debate. Nevertheless, whatever its constraints, it is important to note that the SDF functions as a military in many ways and to recognize the steady erosion of constitutional constraints as it expands its reach.

In this paper, I analyze the SDF as a “camouflaged military.” Camouflage is a way of hiding that allows an otherwise visible existence to remain undetected, by blending in with its surroundings. Since its creation, the SDF has sought to camouflage its military character by blending into the surrounding civil society. Women have played an important role in camouflaging the SDF in this manner. It is noteworthy that from 1950 to the present at no time did Japanese women campaign for gender integration in the SDF. As Figure 1 and Figure 2 show, however, the number of women in the SDF and the types of jobs that they perform increased steadily over the years. Although the number of military women in many countries is minuscule and in no case are the women fully integrated, Japan ranks in the lowest level of gender integration.25

Figure 1 Number and Percentage of Female Members in the SDF27

Using four analytical stages in Japanese postwar history, I examine the history of women in the SDF from the perspective of globalized gender mainstreaming. According to the United Nations, gender mainstreaming is “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action” and “a strategy for making women's as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension” of policies and programs in order to achieve gender equality.26 While policy makers in Japan introduced women into the SDF without the goal of promoting gender equality, the addition of women resulted in giving them a specific function of camouflaging militaries and their operations all over the world in the process of globalized gender mainstreaming.

1. Taking off (the 1950s to the early 1960s): We are different from the Imperial Army

Figure 2 Main Events Involving Women in the SDF

Under the U.S.-led Occupation after World War II, Japan was completely demilitarized and its military industry dismantled. Article Nine of Japan’s new constitution, which was promulgated in 1946 and remains in effect to this day, prohibits Japan from maintaining military forces and from using force to settle international disputes.

However, from the early days of the U.S.-Soviet conflict, with Chinese Communist forces’ advancing to victory in the late 1940s, and especially following the outbreak of war in Korea in June 1950, Washington began to position Japan as a subordinate American ally in the global war against communism. General Douglas MacArthur sent then Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru a memorandum on the reinforcement of the Japanese police forces on July 8th,28 and the new Japanese postwar military force came into being as the National Police Reserve. In 1951, on the same day that it signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty with 48 countries, the Japanese government concluded the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which established Japan’s subordination to the U.S. military, a position that has been maintained ever since. In 1952, the Japanese government, again with Washington’s support and urging, renamed and reorganized the fledgling Police Reserve as the National Safety Forces. In that process, the Japanese government removed the original purpose of domestic policing from the mandate of the Safety Forces. In 1954, the Japanese government concluded the Mutual Security Act (MSA) with the U.S. and, subsequently, the Safety Forces was renamed the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, the name by which Japanese military is still known today.

During this take off stage (the 1950s to the early 1960s), the Police Reserve (as it was then called) consisted exclusively of men in uniform. Although nursing jobs played a minor role in this small, fledgling organization, which was barred from combat, female nurses did not wear Police Reserve uniforms. They were initially categorized by government planners as civilian nurses. In 1952, when the government created the Army Nursing Corps, nurses became more integrated into the main force and, since then, have worn military uniforms.

Mady Wechsler Segal, who researches women’s military roles cross-nationally, states that “when gender segregation is extremely high, the military must rely on women to perform military functions that are dominated by women in the civilian workplaces.”29 Nursing is such a job, and it “has often been the first military job to open to women in substantial numbers.”30 Segal’s observation applies to the nursing jobs open to Japanese women in post-1950 Japanese military history.

It appears that the male officials crafting the still-nascent SDF sought to include women as “feminine” military nurses. Since many women served as nurses during World War II, government and military planners and their supporters welcomed women into the SDF in one, and only one official capacity: as nurses. In fact, the National Security Board, predecessor of the Defense Agency, implored the former chief nurse of the army hospital to enter this nascent Army Nursing Corps.31

Parliamentary proceedings reveal that the proponents of women’s inclusion in this new organization sought to camouflage the military nature of the Safety Forces. In 1952, when Tanaka Jiro, a constitutional scholar of Tokyo University, attended a cabinet committee meeting to discuss the establishment of the Safety Forces, he insisted that the Safety Forces should be distinct from the Imperial Army. He pointed to the role of women as part of the process of differentiation:

This may be irrelevant but introducing women into the National Police Reserve will make its atmosphere more cheerful and avoid possible conflicts with people. Please think about this as an issue of the incarnate National Security Board.32

We must recall that the majority of National Police Reserve members had military service records.33 As a result, the Japanese government had struggled to shed the Imperial Army’s negative legacy and to regain legitimacy after the establishment of the National Police Reserve. Given the prewar role of women in the military as nurses, readers may believe that the incorporation of nurses in the SDF heightened the similarity to the former Imperial Army.34 However compared to their roles as civilian employees of the prewar Japanese military, SDF nurses were more fully incorporated as uniformed members. We can infer that one reason why the postwar military placed women nurses in positions for future development was to camouflage the continuity with the prewar military, in other words, to give the impression that this postwar institution represented a break from the Imperial Army.

2. Cementing the relationship (late 1960s to 1970s): Friendship with you

In the late 1960s to 1970s the gender structure of the SDF changed significantly. Japanese government military planners then expanded the number and types of jobs that SDF women could perform.

In 1967, the Ground Self-Defense Force’s new policy of placing women in so-called supporting jobs set the stage for launching the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) the following year. The male officials’ reasoning seemed to stem from a desire to more “efficiently” use male SDF soldiers in what they deemed to be “manly” jobs. One civilian defense official, Kaihara Osamu, Director General of the Secretariat of the Minister of State for Defense from 1965 to 1966, recalled the situation he had observed that affected his decision to change this policy:

One day, I went to the [SDF] magazine [production office] in Saitama Prefecture…I saw many men arranging things in the magazine. What a waste! This is not a man’s job but a woman’s job. I thought, women are good at organizing, you know? Think about World War II. The women’s voluntary corps was very successful, wasn’t it? So I thought that men should run with machine guns while women take care of storing them. Such a division of labor would be best, I thought.35

The statement brilliantly captures how this senior official set out to (re)craft military personnel policy in ways that would “secure” the masculinized integrity and character of the military profession, while expanding the role of women in the SDF. Nevertheless, even if women were to be marginalized by exclusion from the SDF’s “core” tasks (those related to killing), resistance remained to women becoming soldiers. According to Kaihara, the military elites of the GSDF in the late 1960s remained unified in their opposition to creating the WAC and expanding women’s roles in the SDF.36

However, other forces would affect the gendered formation of the military. As Sasson-Levy points out, “globalization processes have served as catalysts for change and development in gender relations in many militaries around the world, especially in Western militaries.”37 Since militaries examine situations internationally and emulate each other, especially the world’s dominant ones, they tend to become similar to one another.38 Needless to say, the U.S. military has strongly influenced all other militaries. Japan is among the loyal students influenced by the gendered structure of the U.S. military at the time, taking it as a model in certain respects for the SDF.

Figure 3 Col. Tanaka Shoji’s visit to the U.S. Women’s Army Corps Center42

Kaihara testified that the turning point came when a Japanese defense attaché in the U.S. persuaded a visiting official to approve the idea of a Japanese WAC.39 Figure 3 is a photograph that was taken when Col. Tanaka Shoji visited the U.S. Women’s Army Corps Center on an inspection tour in April 1965. On the left is Lt. Col. Elizabeth P. Hoisington, who was appointed the seventh Director of WAC in August 1965 and served from 1966 to 1971.

During his visit, Col. Tanaka learned how the Pentagon incorporated women into its staff, although women comprised just 2 percent of the U.S. military in the late 1960s during the Vietnam War era. Matsukane Hisatomo, who had served in the U.S. as a defense attaché and was familiar with the WAC, persuaded Col. Tanaka to approve the creation of a Japanese WAC.40 After Col. Tanaka’s return to Japan, the GSDF sent four female nurses to the U.S. for training at the U.S. WAC School.41


Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. WAC Center trained foreign female officers not only from Japan but from many allied countries. We can infer from a list of foreign female officers trained at the U.S. WAC Center that they played roles in networking relations between the U.S. and Japan. Japan was hardly alone in dispatching women to the WAC center. Korea and Vietnam sent the largest number of female officers to the U.S. WAC Center: 21 Korean and 18 Vietnamese women were trained there from 1957 to 1967.43 The U.S. Commandant, on November 1st, 1967 pointed to the potential role of women in the military of Japan and South Vietnam in the “defense of the free world”:

All three of our countries (Japan, South Vietnam, and the U.S., author’s note) have recognized the expanding role of women and the contribution which women can make to the defense of their nation. Our three nations also share a common belief that all people everywhere have a right to be free. Only in our combined strength can we assist in the preservation of freedom and the defense of the free world. We believe that your attendance at our School will be of value in furthering the defense of your nations and in future cementing the ties of friendship which exist among us.44

The female SDF personnel learned about more than the defense of the free world. Oveta Culp Hobby, Director of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC, later the WAC) from 1942 to 1945, commented in 1942 that the corps would be neither “Amazons rushing into battle” nor “butterflies fluttering about.”45 As Leisa D. Mayer notes, propaganda at the time stressed the hetero-normative femininity of the WAAC/WAC as a response to anxieties that the military would make women “mannish” or would provide a haven for lesbians.46

The U.S. WAC leaders maintained this educational policy until disbanding and integrating in the 1970s and Japanese SDF female personnel learned from and emulated much from them, while adapting their approach to Japanese sensibilities. Maeda Yoneko, Director of the Japanese WAC in 1968, encouraged women recruits to use their femininity to maximum advantage as follows: “Be tender, be elegant, be modest, and don’t forget the smile within your heart.”47 This responded to the resistance to and concern about the inclusion of women soldiers, which were expressed by male SDF officials and female recruits’ parents. In fact, this policy has since been partially modified. It survives today as “be tough, be cheerful, and be elegant.” It is clear that the Japanese WAC modeled its educational policy on that of the U.S. WAC while seeking to reassure skeptical male SDF officials.

There is evidence that the decision to incorporate women was also motivated, as in the American case, by the need to make up for the shortfalls of male recruits, a factor that bore no relationship to the goal of gender equality. During the high growth years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Japan’s civilian job market was highly favorable for young Japanese men. Consequently, the SDF faced great difficulty in attracting qualified male recruits. During this period, SDF recruiters went to the cities and enlisted unemployed youth including those with little education and even juvenile delinquents. However, these new recruits caused disciplinary problems, including crime and fighting. In addition, the resignation rate was very high.48 In these circumstances, the SDF discovered a new pool of effective recruits: young women.

Figure 4 SDF recruiting poster, 1971

In increasing the number of women, SDF officials hoped to win broad popular support for the organization and to simultaneously foster women recruits as “wise” mothers who would produce the next generation of SDF. One officer in the Ground Staff Office sought to persuade his subordinates who opposed the idea of the WAC with the following words:

If the SDF admits women, we could gain more supporters. This is because if one woman decides to become an SDF member, she would have to persuade everyone in her family. Moreover, such a woman with a healthy spirit would bear children who would become soldiers.49

In this male official’s view, retired female military personnel would become “wise mothers” who would not only understand the needs of national security but would also foster the next generation of SDF recruits. Though important in other countries, this was especially important in Japan where the SDF’s very existence remained controversial. The movement to incorporate women into the SDF coincided with the mass movement of the 1960s opposing the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. This political backdrop led some military officials to believe that recruitment of women could play a role in changing public opinion about the SDF.

Figure 5 SDF recruiting poster, 1976 

Since their introduction into the SDF, a substantial number of women have served in the recruitment division. The recruitment strategy in Okinawa, a location with an overwhelming U.S. military base presence, illustrates the SDF’s approach to combating negative public sentiments. After Okinawa’s sovereignty was transferred from the U.S. to Japan in 1972, a female official was included in Okinawa’s recruitment division in an effort to mitigate Okinawan antipathy towards the SDF.

Frühstück shows ways in which military public relations efforts select and burnish their image.50 I propose that the SDF’s primary self-image is of citizens participating positively in society. The first white paper published by the Defense Agency in 1970 emphasizes the fact that “SDF members are the same as ordinary citizens. They are uniformed citizens.”51

The image of “SDF members as citizens” and women’s important role in the creation of this image of the SDF can be observed in recruiting posters. Figure 4 is a 1971 SDF recruiting poster, showing two female and five male SDF officials holding the national flag. Although the flag-centered image is nationalistic, the slogan, “Young power to defend peace” helps to prevent the invocation of a militaristic image. Figure 5 is a 1976 SDF recruiting poster, showing two men arm wrestling while surrounded by four women and three men in uniform. Accompanied by the slogan “Friendship develops, trust is born,” the close groupings testify to the close and warm relations between the SDF members and civilians. Figure 6 is a 1973 SDF recruiting poster. A male SDF official is shown in the center, surrounded by young civilian friends, five men and two women.

 Figure 6 SDF recruiting poster, 1973

The slogan: “We are students in our youth. Human, comrade, friendship, yesterday, today, tomorrow, the meeting of fresh spirits is an important time!” The world within these posters is a happy, peaceful, and joyous one, without war or danger. The presence of women in each of these posters is essential to creating the warm image of SDF friendship with citizens.

3. Expansion (the 1980s and 1990s): Advanced organization

In the 1980s and 1990s, in close coordination with the U.S., Japan built up its military capacity with major gains in air and naval power, as well as strengthened and expanded the SDF’s sphere of activities. Since the 1980s, the SDF has participated in a wide range of joint military exercises, notably with the US, such as the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and the Pacific Exercise (PACEX). The SDF also joined the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) from 1992.

A central figure in promoting these changes was Nakasone Yasuhiro, the hawkish prime minister from 1982 to 1987. He shifted restrictive Japanese security policy in a more aggressive direction by abolishing the one percent Gross National Product (GNP) ceiling on military spending and launching joint military training with the U.S., proclaimed as defending the “free world” against communism.52

At that time, the role of women in the SDF expanded in various ways. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s during the bubble economy era, civilian jobs were plentiful and the SDF faced a shortfall in male recruits. As a result, SDF policy makers sought to recruit more women. As Figure 1 shows, the number of women in the SDF in 1991 (8,040, or 3.4 percent), while still small, doubled from that of 1986 (4,232, or 1.7 percent).53

An additional factor further influenced official decisions regarding gender integration in the SDF. External pressure, exerted by global institutions such as the United Nations helped promote gender equality worldwide, including in the military.54 Most important was the 1985 ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations treaty designed to commit member states to end gender discrimination in their own countries.

To implement CEDAW’s provisions, the Japanese government created what is known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL), the Law on Securing Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment. Segal states that “[a] driving force toward increasing women’s representation in the military has been laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender.”55 In Japan, the law had an immediate effect when it was implemented in 1986. Civilian and military officials of the Defense Agency moved to significantly expand the numbers and types of jobs that SDF women could perform. This led to a rapid increase in the number of SDF women working in previously “masculine” jobs, including engineering, artillery, and air defense control. The percentage of SDF jobs open to women reached 75 percent, up from 39 percent. Military women’s jobs thus expanded beyond “traditional” female jobs, such as personnel, administration, accounting, nursing, and communication.56

Although CEDAW triggered these changes, their underlying cause cannot be reduced to feminist efforts. Karl L. Wiegand, who conducted interviews in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Labor Ministry in 1979, pointed out that officials were pushing for greater opportunity for women, “because they want Japan to be viewed as a progressive modern nation among the industrialized countries of the world.”57 In other words, their decision was motivated by the desire enhance Japan’s image as a “modern” and “democratic” nation in the eyes of the principal international allies.

There were other noteworthy factors. The SDF not only utilized women in the recruitment division, but also encouraged women’s participation in beauty contests and sought to make use of the winners’ image. For example, “Miss Kochi” (Kochi prefecture) graced an SDF publicity campaign, a strategy known as the “wine red operation” that was implemented throughout the 1990s.58

The number of male-only recruitment posters has been decreasing and the number of female-only and male and female posters has been increasing. Although female models appeared in posters beginning in 1965, SDF designers began to over-represent women in the 1980s in order to appeal to young Japanese men and possibly women as potential SDF members.

The following two figures illustrate the shifting gender profile in recruitment posters. Figure 7 is a painting and Figure 8 is a photograph, but their composition is identical. In each, three soldiers stand in line—one from the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), a second from the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), and the last from the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF). In Figure 7, the three SDF men pictured are not smiling, while in Figure 8 the three women pictured are smiling broadly and displaying their white teeth. Moreover, in Figure 7, the text merely states “GSDF/MSDF/ASDF/Recruit.” In Figure 8, however, a slogan reads: “We love (suki) your vitality.” “Love (suki)” is a word that often appears in posters depicting female models. Figure 9 is another SDF recruitment poster that uses the word “love.” This poster shows a girl and a male SDF official, both smiling broadly, the girl clinging admiringly to his arm, with the slogan “I love (suki) a reliable person (hito)!”

But who loves whom? The implication in Figure 9 is clear: the civilian woman loves the uniformed male SDF member. However, two interpretations are possible for Figure 8. One is that the audience loves the vitality of the women SDF members. Another interpretation, however, is that the women SDF members depicted in the poster love the vitality of unseen male SDF applicants or recruits. In both interpretations, the posters try to appeal to potential young male recruits.

Figure 7 SDF recruiting poster

 1954 Figure 8 SDF recruiting poster, 1989

In 1992, the Japanese government for the first time admitted women as cadets into the National Defense Academy (NDA). This was designed to give women the opportunity to gain promotions to senior officer ranks. Thus, the possibility that women would become officers and decision makers increased. Yet even when a small number of women were admitted as elite cadets into the NDA, there remained continuity in the use of women’s presence and images for recruiting purposes (See Figures 1 and 2).

CEDAW is again a key to understanding this change. With the Japanese government preparing to ratify the CEDAW, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office emphasized that the NDA should be open to women according to the principle of gender equality. However, a long series of battles between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Agency ensued before women were admitted as cadets in the NDA.

It is striking that even many leading officials and Diet members who tried to open the door for women in the SDF justified the change in traditional terms. For example, Suzuki Muneo, then a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), expressed this view of women’s incorporation into the NDA at a cabinet committee of the House of Representatives in 1990:

Figure 9 SDF recruiting poster, 1987

As a man, I think that female students of the NDA will have a positive effect. People will change their view of the SDF and young men will decide to enroll in the NDA and contribute to national defense so that they can find good wives. I recommend thinking that way.59

Suzuki’s comments illustrate the sexist logic that underlies popular images of women and is reinforced in many recruitment posters. The Defense Agency examined the impact of this policy change and concluded that admitting female cadets would inspire women’s consciousness of national security, as well as improve their understanding and image of the SDF.60 Again, their logic is not rooted in gender equality, but in the structured use of gendered roles informed by such concepts as “good wife, wise mother.”

In addition to recruitment problems, government officials were more concerned about the image of the government institution (kan) than they were in improving the position of women in society. White papers at the time explained the necessity for the SDF to extend opportunities for women to work, following a period in which women gained greater opportunities to work in civil society.61

Officials’ desire to create the image of the SDF as an advanced organization is clear. In 1992, the Defense Agency announced that it would review women’s job restrictions, including “combat exclusion.” Male military officers argued strongly against lifting this exclusion. However, some civilian male officials were enthusiastic about this reform, with one commenting, “We want to create the most open workplace for women anywhere in the world.”62 In the 1980s, Japan became the world’s second largest economy. As Mikanagi points out, “Once Japan achieved a certain level of economic development and sense of international status, policymakers perceived a need to gain international trust and respond to ‘expectations’ from the world.”63 In the first Persian Gulf War, which broke out soon after the end of the Cold War, Japan spent nine billion dollars in supporting the U.S. coalition, but sent no troops into combat. Japanese policymakers perceived their failure to respond to international (especially, American) “expectations” and became eager to transform Japan’s foreign policy.64 As a result, the Japanese government passed the Law Concerning Cooperation for United Nations Peace-keeping Operations and Other Operations, which permitted the SDF to participate in UN peacekeeping operations in 1992 in Cambodia. When Murayama Tomiichi, the leader of the Socialist Party, became Prime Minister in a coalition government, he recognized the SDF’s constitutionality. In addition, the SDF’s rescue operations both in the earthquake in Kobe-Hanshin area and the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 contributed to raising the SDF’s profile nationwide and burnished its image. With these incidents, the Law for Measures to Deal with Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan finally passed the Diet in 1999, giving legal basis for more militarily-ambitious SDF actions.

It is far from certain whether the ambition to respond to international “expectations” and to send the SDF overseas is equivalent to the desire to create “the most open workplace for women all over the world.” What is clear is that the decision to admit a few women as elite cadets into the NDA and to open up to women combat and noncombat jobs was not driven by the principle of gender equality. The SDF’s own goals, and those of the government generally, have centered on camouflaging military expansion through the use of women as poster girls and the creation of an image of the SDF as an advanced domestic and international organization.

4. “International contributions” (the 2000s): We are the peacekeepers

In 1999, the Japanese government promulgated the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society, which proclaims the realization of a gender-equal society a top-priority in 21st century Japan and clarifies the basic principles for achieving a gender-equal society and the respective duties of the state, local governments, and citizens. Since then, the SDF have promoted further gender integration.

Figure 10 A female SDF official and an Iraqi girl

In the UN Mission of Support to East Timor (UNMISET) of 2002, female SDF officials were included as peacekeepers for the first time. Since then, the participation of female service members in UN peacekeeping operations has become commonplace. In addition, when the Japanese government supported the U.S.-led war effort by sending the SDF to help rebuild war-ravaged Iraq in 2004, each 100 person-unit included approximately ten female members working in communications, supply and nursing positions. When the Japanese government declared the southern Iraq city Samawa a noncombat area and dispatched the SDF there, female officials were included in the first group.

From January 2004 to July 2006, the Japanese government dispatched about 600 GSDF members to Iraq.65 This was the first time that the SDF was sent to a “combat area,” although the Japanese government did not classify it as such and its troops did not participate in combat. At the same time, this refueled the debate in Japan about Article Nine of its Constitution.

Figure 10 is a photograph taken by an SDF public relations officer in Samawa, published in Asagumo, a weekly newspaper that provides defense information and is subscribed to by most SDF officials.66 In the photo, a female SDF member smiles at an Iraqi girl who has just opened a book that was given to her. What message does this photo communicate? It shows Iraq as a non-dangerous combat area where local people welcome the SDF and the SDF fosters Iraqi education. The inclusion of female members in the troop is intended to persuade skeptical Japanese people to view Samawa as a noncombat area and the Iraq mission as a benevolent peace operation. If Samawa is a dangerous combat area and the Iraq mission is to wage war, after all, who would send women there? Thus, women’s representation was used to camouflage Samawa as a combat area and the nature of the SDF’s mission in Iraq.

Figure 11 Mainichi Shimbun(毎日新聞), February 6, 2005 

Figure 12 Yomiuri Shimbun(読売新聞), February 6, 2005

There is abundant evidence to show that the Japanese media lacks a critical stance towards these politicized gender representations. Figures 11, 12, 14, and 15 are photographs that appeared in morning newspapers on February 6, 2005, when the fifth SDF force was dispatched to Iraq. On that day, about 200 soldiers left for Iraq and 500 family members saw them off. Interestingly, news reporters from several different newspapers chose the same two subjects in their depictions of the event.

Figure 13 Shufu no Tomo(主婦の友), September 1941

In Figure 11, Mainichi Shimbun (毎日新聞) focused on a family of three: a young SDF male personnel, his wife with eyes swollen from crying, and a little boy clinging to his father’s chest. As Figure12 shows, Yomiuri Shimbun (読売新聞) used the same family in its portrayal. This representation parallels the composition of the male soldier, his wife, and their little boy in prewar Japanese media as shown in Figure 13, an illustration printed in the magazine Shufuno Tomo (主婦の友) in September 1941. In contrast, Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞) opted for a young couple: crying wife and the SDF male personnel holding her tightly, as shown in Figure 14. Chunichi Shimbun (中日新聞), a regional paper of the Chubu area where the SDF was sent, chose a similar representation of the same couple, as shown in Figure 15.

Another example of prescribed gender representation can be seen in the following recruiting movie created by the ASDF in 2008. This is an email written by a male SDF member to his girlfriend, who is shown reading the message on her cell phone.

Dear Sacchan,
We finished serving in Iraq and today we are leaving for Japan.
I was glad to hear that our plane was called the Bluebird of Happiness.
This was the best word for we Japanese.
Constant tensions and hardships were no big deal for me but
I have been concerned about you, Sacchan.
I am sorry to have worried you and … thank you

(Narrator:) That is something only we can do. Air Self-Defense Force.

In the same manner as the photographs discussed above, this recruitment video portrays men as “Just Warriors” and women back home as “Beautiful Souls.”67 Although the SDF increased the number of female officials and extended their roles, these gender stereotypes linger on in the 21st century, perpetuating gender hierarchies in the SDF and in society.

Change in civil society had a ripple effect leading to changes in the SDF. At the same time, the Japanese government has been promoting gender integration of the SDF. The government upgraded the Defense Agency to the Defense Ministry in 2007. In the same year, women’s job limitations were revised, and in 2009, some positions, including serving on escort vessels and minesweepers, were opened to women.68 Moreover, the Ministry of Defense began to lay down the infrastructure for maintaining a work-life balance that would facilitate women’s participation in the SDF, such as providing for a workplace nursery in some units.69

Figure 14 Asahi Shimbun(朝日新聞), February 6, 2005 

Figure 15 Chunichi Shimbun(中日新聞), February 6, 2005

What propelled this change in policy? One factor is the need to recruit SDF personnel in the era of a declining birthrate and aging population. Another factor is globally-promoted gender mainstreaming. UN Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted on October 31, 2000, recognizes women’s roles and experiences in peace building and conflict resolution. It also calls on UN member states to increase women’s participation and to introduce gender perspectives in peace and security-related activities.70 In relation to such policies, the Japanese government has declared that Japan should promote women’s participation in peacekeeping in order to “contribute internationally” in each of the Basic Plans for Gender Equality since 2000.

Therefore, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate the military’s own interests in its incorporation of women from the advent of official efforts to promote gender equality in society in the age of globalized gender mainstreaming.71 SDF women personnel now play an integral role in international peacekeeping. In this manner, they camouflage the danger of combat areas, influence the image of the SDF’s mission within Japan, and contribute to the image of Japan as a leading nation on the international stage.


Processes of militarization encompass not only military buildup in wartime, but also diverse transformations of civilian society in peacetime. As Enloe states, “Militarization is the step-by-step process by which something becomes controlled by, dependent on, or derives its value from the military as an institution or militaristic criteria.”72 In the case of Japan, Sasaki observes that much energy has been devoted to normalizing the SDF presence and to creating national consensus on the need for the SDF in postwar Japan.73 As a result of this militarization, it is possible to state that most Japanese today feel no contradiction between Article Nine of the Constitution and the existence of the SDF.

This paper has explored the militarization of Japanese society from a gendered perspective, discussed the reasons for incorporating women into the SDF, and documented its use of women in marketing the SDF. The SDF has sought to distinguish itself from the Imperial Army; to find ways to assure that men undertake “manly” jobs; to cement relations between the U.S. and Japan; to make up for the lack of male recruits by recruiting growing numbers of women; to inspire in women national security consciousness; to mitigate antipathy towards the SDF; to attract heterosexual male recruits; to appear “modern” and “democratic” to international allies; to improve the public image of the SDF; to claim societal advancement following the expansion of workplace access for women in civil society; to create the image of the SDF as a safe and benevolent peacekeeper; and to camouflage the position of men and women SDF forces in a combat area in Iraq. .

It is noteworthy that during these four stages—from 1950 to the present—at no time did Japanese women campaign for gender integration in the SDF. In this respect, the Japanese postwar women’s movement differs from the liberal feminist movements in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and post-apartheid South Africa. I note the unique context in which Japanese proponents of women’s rights operate: the post-World War II Japanese military has been a volunteer force from the beginning, and women’s movements have not prioritized the military as an arena for attaining equality.74 Some feminist movements, notably the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the U.S., fought for the inclusion of women in the military, arguing that entry into and promotion within the military were important steps toward gender equality. By contrast, Japanese women activists, deeply concerned about the threat of resurgent militarism in Japan, have not prioritized support for expanded opportunities for women in the SDF.

The SDF’s unique situation allows scholars to track the process of militarization and to distinguish the military’s rationale for promoting gender integration from the movement for gender equality in Japan. It is clear that women have been used to camouflage the SDF’s militaristic character. During the first stage (1950s to early 1960s), the inclusion of women allowed the SDF to differentiate itself from the Imperial Army. During the second stage (late 1960s to 1970s), women helped cement ties with Japanese citizens through their representation in recruitment posters and with the U.S. through their participation in WAC centers. During the third stage (1980s to 1990s), women contributed to the expansion of the military and became a symbol of a more advanced organization. In the fourth stage (since 2000), women were used to soften the image of the SDF’s military missions and they became an integral part of Japan’s efforts to present its participation in American wars as peacekeeping operations.

We may ask whether the contribution of women soldiers to camouflaging the military’s violent and aggressive activities is specific to Japan. Women in the military of many countries have been presented in war propaganda, particularly since 9/11. They have frequently been used to camouflage the dark side of the “war on terror” and even to present it as a struggle for women’s rights. As Saskia Stachowitsch notes, the images of brave and free female American soldiers played an important role in legitimating the Iraq war as a fight to save oppressed Arab women.75

Krista Hunt and Kim Rygiel point out, “This war story about women’s liberation served to camouflage the Bush administration’s past and present record on women’s rights.”76 More specifically, it camouflaged the Bush administration’s attack on women’s reproductive rights domestically and internationally; its maintaining of diplomatic relations with the Taliban with an eye toward protecting oil interests prior to 9/11; the funding of Afghan warlords who engaged in serious violence against women post-9/11; and Coalition soldiers’ sexual assaults on both Iraqi women and female colleagues in Afghanistan and Iraq.77

It is necessary to critically reflect on the processes that are occurring under the rationale of gender mainstreaming of militaries all over the world. For example, the U.S. Marine Corps launched Female Engagement Teams (FET) in Iraq and Afghanistan. The FET perform outreach to women and children in order for the military to learn about the local community, understand their specific needs, and implement community development programs. Since the FET consists of female service members, they can interact with women without violating the cultural norms of the local community. In fact, they have performed many outreach activities, including support for the establishment of women’s business, education of women and children on basic medical and hygiene practices, assistance of local female police officers, and establishment of a center for women.78

I do not deny the significance of these activities. As a scholar who explores militarization from a gender perspective, however, I believe it is necessary to examine what these activities camouflage. These benevolent and humanitarian activities may mask—in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the U.S. and elsewhere—the reality of military violence. A tough and gentle “warrior-princess-of-peace” will save, care, and construct rather than kill, hurt, and destroy.79 But is such an image a true one?

In closing, I would like to emphasize the fact that camouflage does not necessarily require intent to conceal. It is sufficient that it makes something invisible, unnoticed, and overlooked. Shortly after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, 100,000 SDF troops were sent to the disaster-stricken northeastern coast of Japan.80 They conducted search and rescue operations, some of them, as in “Operation Tomodachi (Friends)”, together with the U.S. military.81 The result was that SDF popularity rating soared, as did that of the U.S. military, and many children were said to aspire to become SDF officers.82 It is true that they should be credited for their efforts in saving and caring for victims, as well as rebuilding the disaster stricken area. At the end of 2011, however, the Japanese government stealthily lifted a long-established national ban on arms exports.83 This ban was one of Japan’s important security policies, which prohibited the country from exporting weapons and military equipment for the purposes of killing, injuring and destroying. Lifting the ban allows Japan to sell weapons and military equipment to other nations for use in peacekeeping operations.

When I state that gender mainstreaming may have a camouflaging function, I imply that our eyes tend to be glued on the issue of “a lack of women” and to stray from the issue of “a preponderance of soldiers” in peacekeeping operations.84 Soldiers may not be the best peacekeepers and militaries may not be the most appropriate organization for peacekeeping operations.85 Female peacekeepers may be expected to restore trust for the mission as an antidote to the increasingly bad image of the military and to give the host society a different impression from that of an updated version of the colonial mission. Gender mainstreaming as camouflage may prevent people from raising fundamental questions about war, the military, and occupations.

This paper is a revised and expanded version of a talk I delivered at the Harvard-Yenching Institute on February 22nd, 2012. It also develops themes that I initially sketched in Sato, 2010, “Why Have the Japanese Self-Defense Forces Included Women?: The State’s ‘Nonfeminist Reasons’” in the anthology Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific, Shigematsu Setsu and Keith L. Camacho eds., Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 251-276. I wish to express my gratitude to Prof. Mary Brinton of Harvard University, Prof. Cynthia Enloe of Clark University, Prof. Setsu Shigematsu of University of California, Riverside, Prof. Sabine Frühstück of University of California, Santa Barbara, and Prof. Mark Selden of Cornell University for their thoughtful and helpful comments. I am also indebted to Heidi Lam of Harvard University for her assistance in proofreading and editing this paper.

Fumika Sato is Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University. She grew up in Tokyo, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Keio University. She was the recipient of the Award for Young Scholars in Women's Studies in 2002. For her Ph.D. thesis, she conducted sociological fieldwork at the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and published it as Gender and the Military: Women in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (in Japanese, 2004). She also contributed a chapter to Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific (Shigematsu Setsu and Keith L. Camacho eds., Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010). She was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute in 2011-12.

Fumika Sato, "A Camouflaged Military: Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and Globalized Gender Mainstreaming," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 3, September 3, 2012.


1 Carreiras, Helena, 2006, Gender and the Military: Women in the Armed Forces of Western Democracies, London: Routledge, p.117, emphasis in the original.

2 See for example, Gutmann, Stephanie, 2000, The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can America's Gender-Neutral Fighting Force Still Win Wars?, New York: Scribner.

3 Chapman, Anne W., 2008, Mixed-Gender Basic Training: The U.S. Army Experience, 1973-2004, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, p.169.

4 Stachowitsch, Saskia, 2011, Gender Ideologies and Military Labor Markets in the US, New York: Routledge, p.130.

5 Sasson-Levy, Orna, 2011, "The Military in a Globalized Environment: Perpetuating an 'Extremely Gendered' Organization," Handbook of Gender, Work and Organization, Jeanes, Emma L., David Knights and Patricia Yancey Martin eds., Chichester : Wiley, 391-410, p.392

6 Stachowitsch, 2011, p.127.

7 See, for example, Chapman, 2008, p.169.

8 Enloe, Cynthia, 1983, Does Khaki Become You?: The Militarisation of Women's Lives, London: Pluto Press, p.10.

9 Enloe, 1983, p.11-12.

10 D'Amico, Francine and Laurie Weinstein eds., 1999, Gender Camouflage: Women and the U.S. Military, New York: New York University Press, p.5.

11 D'Amico and Weinstein eds., 1999, p.4.

12 Takahashi Saburo, 1974, “War Studies and Military Studies: Prospects and Issues of Military Sociology (戦争研究と軍隊研究 ―ミリタリー・ソシオロジーの展望と課題),” Thought, Tokyo: Iwanami, 605: 1483-1504, p.1504.

13 Yoshida Yutaka, 2002, “War and the Military: Current Studies of Japanese Modern Military History (戦争と軍隊 ―日本近代軍事史研究の現在),” Historical Review (歴史評論), Tokyo: Koso Shobo, 630: 40-51.

14 Tanaka Masakazu ed., 2004, Journal of Humanities, 90 (人文学報), Kyoto: The Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University.

15 Kawano Hitoshi, 2004, “Sociology of Peacekeeping Operations of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces: Future of Expansion of International Operations and Stress Caused by Dispatch (自衛隊PKOの社会学 ―国際貢献任務拡大のゆくえと派遣ストレス),” “War” in Postwar Japan (戦後日本のなかの「戦争」), Nakai Hisao ed., Tokyo: Sekai Shiso Sha, 213-25.

16 Frühstück, Sabine, 2007, Uneasy Warriors: Gender, Memory, and Popular Culture in the Japanese Army, Berkeley: University of California Press. Her work was translated into Japanese and published by Hara Shobo in 2008.

17 Sasaki Tomoyuki, 2009, An Army for the People: The Self-Defense Forces and Society in Postwar Japan, Michigan: UMI. Dissertation Publishing.

18 Mikanagi Yumiko, 2011, Masculinity and Japan's Foreign Relations, Colorado: First Forum Press.

19 See Sato Fumika, 2004, Gender and the Military: Women in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (軍事組織とジェンダー ―自衛隊の女性たち), Tokyo: Keio University Press; Sato Fumika, 2010, “Why Have the Japanese Self-Defense Forces Included Women?: The State’s ‘Nonfeminist Reasons’,” Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific; Shigematsu Setsu and Keith L. Camacho eds., Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 251-276; Sato Fumika, 2010, “Gendered ‘Postmodern Militaries’: Utilizing Discourses of Masculinities and Femininities for ‘New’ Militaries (ジェンダー化される「ポストモダンの軍隊」 ―「新しさ」をめぐり動員される女性性/男性性),” Gender and Society: History of Masculinities, Military and Sexuality (ジェンダーと社会 ―男性史・軍隊・セクシュアリティ); and Kimoto Kimiko and Kido Yoshiyuki eds., Tokyo: Junposha, 141-169.

20 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2011, 2011 Yearbook, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available here.

21 The Ministry of Defense, 2011, Defense of Japan 2011 (日本の防衛 平成23年度版), Tokyo: Boeisho, p.527.

22 The Ministry of Defense has announced that it will introduce the latest F-35 jet fighters. See Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞), December 20, 2011, evening edition.

23 Since the Korean War, Japan has actively supported every U.S. war, diplomatically, politically, economically, and as a rear area. However before the 1990s, Japanese government carefully refrained from dispatching the SDF overseas.

24 Article Nine states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

25 See Carreiras, 2006. She studied integration patterns of military women in NATO countries and recognized four patterns. (1) the “Euro-Atlantic model” where countries not only have higher levels of inclusiveness but also have the highest numerical representation; (2) the “Scandinavian model” where countries score high in inclusiveness with more limited quantitative representation; (3) the “South European model” where countries have medium to low scores on inclusiveness with significant representation levels; and (4) “Mixed territorial model” where countries score the lowest in levels of inclusiveness and percentage of women in the military. In my previous research, I applied Carreiras’ index of gender inclusiveness and discovered that Japan belonged to the last group. See Sato, 2010. Data on women in the military are given by Seager, Joni, 2009, The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, 4th ed., New York: Penguin Books, pp.102-103.

26 United Nations, 1997, Report of the Economic and Social Council for 1997, A/52/3, September 18, 1997.

27 SDF members are divided into four categories; officers (kanbu), warrant officers (jun-i), non-commissioned officers (sou), and soldiers (shi). Soldiers (shi) are further divided into two categories based on their contract. Non-limited term of contract (ninki-sei) refers to career or lifetime employment. For limited term contract (hi-ninki-sei), the first term is two years for GSDF soldiers and three years for MSDF and ASDF soldiers. Contracts may be renewed after two years. However, those who are not promoted to noncommissioned officer (sou) within about ten years are discharged.

28 The Defense Agency, 1961, Publication to Commemorate the Tenth Year of Japanese Self-Defense Forces (自衛隊十年史), Tokyo: Boeicho, p.19.

29 Segal, Mady Wechsler, 1995, “Women’s Military Roles Cross-Nationally: Past, Present, and Future,” Gender & Society, 9(6): 757-775, p.767

30 Segal, 1995, p.767.

31 Asahi shimbun (朝日新聞), November 19, 1952, evening edition and November 22, 1952, morning edition.

32 Japanese Congressional Record, 13th House of Councilors, 40th Cabinet Committee (第13回参議院内閣委員会40号), June 11, 1952.

33 The Defense Agency, 1961, p.247.

34 An estimated 50,000 plus Japanese nurses served in the military during World War II. However they were civilian employees of the military. See Naito Hisako, 2005, “War and Nurses: Phase of War Nurses (戦争と看護 ―従軍看護婦の位相),” Women of the Nation at War (軍国の女たち), Hayakawa Noriyo ed., Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobundo, 52-74, p.70.

35 Center of Excellence Oral Policy Research Project, 2001, Oral History of Kaihara Osamu, volume one (海原治オーラルヒストリー 上巻), Tokyo: Seisaku Kenkyu Daigakuin Daigaku, pp.258-259, translated and discussed by the author.

36 Center of Excellence Oral Policy Research Project, p.259.

37 Sasson-Levy, 2011, p.394.

38 Sasson-Levy, 2011, pp.398-99.

39 Center of Excellence Oral Policy Research Project, 2001, p.259.

40 Kaihara used the expression “brainwash” to describe how this U.S.-based Japanese official persuaded his visiting colleague to make greater use of women inside the SDF. See Center of Excellence Oral Policy Research Project, 2001, p.259.

41 “Foreign Officers Trained at U.S. WAC School,” material in the possession of the U.S. Women’s Army Memorial at Fort Lee. Thanks are due to Françoise B. Bonnell, Director of the museum, and Amanda Jean Strickland, Archivist of the museum, for their assistance in collecting the materials.

42 Photo in the possession of the U.S. Women’s Army Memorial, Fort Lee.

43 See note 41.

44 “Proposed Remarks for the Commandant on Foreign Student’s Holiday, 1 November 1967,” material in the possession of the U.S. Women’s Army Memorial in Fort Lee.

45 New York Times, April 17, 1942, p.8.

46 Meyer, Leisa D., 1992, "Creating G.I. Jane: The Regulation of Sexuality and Sexual Behavior in the Women's Army Corps during World War II," Feminist Studies, 18(3): 581-601, p.585.

47 The GSDF WAC Training Unit, 1998, Publication to Commemorate the Thirtieth Year (30周年記念誌), Tokyo: Rikujo Jieitai Fujin Jieikan Kyoikutai, p.13.

48 Interview with author, October 29, 1999 in Tokyo.

49 The GSDF WAC Training Unit, 1998, The Institution of WAC and What Our Training Unit Should Be (婦人自衛官の制度及び教育隊のあるべき姿), p.106.

50 Frühstück, Sabine, 2010, "AMPO in Crisis? US Military's Manga Offers Upbeat Take on US-Japan Relations," The Asia-Pacific Journal, New York: Japan Focus, 45-3-10.

51 The Defense Agency, 1970, Defense of Japan 1970 (日本の防衛 昭和45年度版), Tokyo: Boeicho, p.55.

52 The change under Nakasone is discussed by Sasaki, 2009, pp.185-188.

53 See Defense of Japan 1987 (日本の防衛 昭和62年度版), p.161 and Defense of Japan 1992 (日本の防衛 平成4年度版), p.324.

54 Sasson-Levy, 2011, p.396.

55 Segal, 1995, p.769.

56 According to a civilian official, as a result of this SDF “reform,” the percentage of SDF jobs open to women increased to 75 percent from 39 percent. However, statistical data on the actual expansion of SDF women is unavailable. See the Japanese Congressional Record, 107th House of Representatives, 4th Cabinet Committee (第107回衆議院内閣委員会4号), October 28, 1986.

57 Wiegand, Karl L., 1982, “Japan: Cautious Utilization,” Female Soldiers —Combatants or Noncombatants? Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Goldman, Nancy Loring ed., Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 179-188, pp.186-187.

58 Mainichi Shimbun (毎日新聞), April 30, 1993, evening edition.

59 Japanese Congressional Record, 118th House of Representatives, 6th Cabinet Committee (第118回衆議院内閣委員会6号), May 24, 1990. Suzuki Muneo was a leading member of the LDP. Two other statements illustrate the point: ”We don’t insist that women should command soldiers as leaders” said Kuroyanagi Akira who was a member of the Komeito Party and “generally speaking, women are not physically appropriate for such military actions” commented Nukiyama Eiko, a woman member of Minshato Party at 102nd House of Councilor, 16th Foreign Affairs Committee (第102回参議院外務委員会16号), June 6, 1985.

60 The Second Section of Personnel of the Defense Agency, 1990, “Result of Examination on the Issue on the Admission of Women to the NDA (従来慎重に対処してきた理由と検討結果),” May 9, 1990.

61 See Defense of Japan 1992 (日本の防衛 平成4年度版), p.180 and Defense of Japan 1994 (日本の防衛 平成6年度版), p.211.

62 Mainichi shimbun (毎日新聞), January 16, 1993, evening edition.

63 Mikanagi, 2011, p.82.

64 Mikanagi, 2011, pp.93-94.

65 The Ministry of Defense, 2011, Defense of Japan 2011 (日本の防衛 平成23年度版), Tokyo: Boeisho, p.518.

66 Asagumo (朝雲), May 18, 2006 and February 22, 2007. The photo was awarded a prize for the best photo in the newspaper.

67 Elshtain, Jean Bethke, 1995, Women and War, 2nd edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.4.

68 The Committee of Drastic Reform of Defense Human Power, 2007, “Report on Drastic Reform of Defense Human Power (防衛力の人的側面についての抜本的改革報告書),” June 28, 2007, pp.52-53.

69 Defense of Japan 2011 (日本の防衛 平成23年度版), p.407.

70 See, for example, United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, 2006, Securing Equality, Engendering Peace: A Guide to Policy and Planning on Women, Peace and Security (UN SCR 1325), New York: United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

71 This is also true for postnational militaries. See Kronsell, Annica, 2012, Gender, Sex, and the Postnational Defense: Militarism and Peacekeeping, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.13-14.

72 Enloe, Cynthia, 2000, Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives, Los Angeles: University of California Press, p.291, emphasis in the original.

73 Sasaki, 2009, p.10.

74 As is known, the U.S. eliminated the draft in 1973 and many other countries followed suit. For example, Spain and France ended the draft in 2001, and Portugal and Italy in 2004. See here.

75 Stachowitsch, 2011, p.124.

76 Hunt, Krista and Kim Rygiel eds., 2006, (En)Gendering the War on Terror: War Stories and Camouflaged Politics, Aldershot: Ashgate, p.9.

77 Hunt and Rygiel eds., 2006, pp.9-10.

78 As for the FET, see example.

79 I modified the term “warrior-prince-of-peace” from Whitworth, Sandra, 2004, Men, Militarism & UN Peacekeeping: A Gendered Analysis, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, p.12.

80 Link

81 “Operation Tomodachi” was not a disinterested, benevolent military mission, of course. The mission aimed to show off the friendship between the U.S and Japan both in the international and domestic realm. See Handa Shigeru, 2012, The SDF after 3.11: Straying Direction of the Security Policy (3.11後の自衛隊 ―迷走する安全保障政策のゆくえ), Tokyo: Iwanami, pp.26-30.

82 According to a public survey conducted by the Cabinet Office in 2011, 97.7% of those polled placed a high value on the SDF’s operation in the disaster-stricken northeastern coast of Japan and the percentage of those who have good impression of the SDF marked the highest record in history as 91.7%. As for “Operation Tomodachi”, 79.2% of those polled, less than that of the SDF, thought it achieved a measure of success.

83 Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞), December 27, 2011, evening edition.

84 Whitworth, 2004, p.71.

85 On this point, see Whitworth, 2004.

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Authors: For all articles by the author, click on author's name.   Fumika Sato