Kishida, Others Mourn SDF Members Who Died on Duty

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A ceremony was held Saturday to pay tribute to Self-Defense Forces members who died in the line of duty, bringing together a total of about 300 participants, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“SDF members who lost their lives while performing their duties with a strong determination and with all of their strengths are a pride of our country,” Kishida said. “We will do our best to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

The ceremony, held at the premises of the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, was also attended by Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and bereaved relatives.

A total of 26 SDF members — 20 from the Ground SDF, five from the Maritime SDF and one from the Air SDF — were certified to have died in the line of duty in the year from September 2022. A list of their names was dedicated to the cenotaph at the ceremony venue.

Among them were 10 people who died in the crash in April this year of a GSDF helicopter off the island of Miyako, Okinawa Prefecture, including Lt. Gen. Yuichi Sakamoto, head of the GSDF 8th Division, and two GSDF personnel killed in a shooting incident at an indoor firing range in the central prefecture of Gifu in June.

The total number of SDF members who have died on duty since the SDF’s predecessor, the National Police Reserve, was launched in 1950 now stands at 2,080.