Artillery: August 28, 2004


The Japanese armed forces are suffering from a sharp increase in suicides. Currently, the annual rate is 39 per 100,000 troops, 44 percent higher than the national rate of 27 per 100,000 people. The rate has been rising over the last few years. In 2002 it was 33 per 100,000 troops. The government attributes the higher suicide rate to increased stress. The Japanese armed forces are undergoing a reorganization, which is moving troops to new and unfamiliar areas of the country, and new jobs for some troops as well. In addition, Japan is sending more troops on peacekeeping missions. While there is no shortage of volunteers for the peacekeeping operations, most troops are feeling the aftereffects, from family and friends, of an economic recession that has lasted over a decade. However, the higher suicide rate is more an indicator of stress, than a threat to the number of troops Japan can maintain in uniform. The armed forces lose far more troops each year to accidents, and the increase, over the civilian suicide rate, amounts to only a couple of dozen people a year. 


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