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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 14 - 20  > Cover-up of PTSD among SDF peacekeepers unacceptable
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2017 June 14 - 20 [SDF]

Cover-up of PTSD among SDF peacekeepers unacceptable

June 18, 2017
The PKO bill became law on June 15 twenty-five years ago. So far, about 12,000 SDF servicemen in total have engaged in UN-led peacekeeping missions abroad. A rise in the incidence rate of depression, PTSD, and suicide among SDF personnel returning from overseas deployments may become a serious problem.

Noudo Mitsuru, the Division commander at the Ground SDF Aomori base where troops who had been dispatched to South Sudan are assigned, while welcoming their return expressed concerns by saying, “As you are self-defense officers, you may be able to take a physical rest but may need more time as for mental relaxation.”

In South Sudan, major clashes took place between the government army and the rebels in December 2013 and July 2016 in the South Sudanese capital of Juba where the SDF camp was located. There, the SDF peacekeepers had to fulfill their duty enduring the deteriorating security situation.

A “condition report” complied by an SDF unit having experienced the December battle notes the on-site stress as follows: working under stress due to the worsening situation, the restricted action, and the aggravated living environment impaired personal relationships with each other; and even after coming back to Japan, many members are still suffering from serious mental distress.

This report also notes the need to keep closely monitoring members’ mental health, citing the example of suicides after overseas deployment operations in the past.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry intended to withhold any information regarding the mental health of the dispatched personnel for “privacy reasons”. Only recently, it has come to light that one officer who returned from South Sudan committed suicide.

More tragedies could happen to those who came back from the PKO mission in South Sudan. Then, it will be unacceptable for state authorities to conceal the fact from the public.

Past related articles:
> 1st GSDF group returns to Japan from UN PKO in South Sudan [April 20, 2017]
> 55 German troops killed in logistics operations in Afghan War [June 17, 2014]
> 26 SDF members killed themselves after returning from Iraq [March 21, 2013]
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