The Defense Ministry will establish a subsidy system for companies that hire Self-Defense Force reservists who will be called up in an emergency such as a military contingency or a large-scale disaster. If the SDF reserve members sustain an injury during disaster-relief duty or SDF training and can’t work, 34,000 yen per member will be paid to companies each day of their absence. The new system is aimed at facilitating the employment of SDF reservists by businesses to facilitate their mobilization in the event of an emergency.
By submitting to the upcoming ordinary Diet session a bill to revise the Self-Defense Forces Act that incorporates necessary provisions, the ministry aims to implement the new system.
SDF reserve personnel are civilians who are employed by private companies. They are in principle required to participate in SDF training for five days a year. The reservists will be summoned in the event of an emergency situation such as a military contingency or natural disaster to perform required duties such as security guards for SDF camps or disaster-relief operations. As of the end of March 2017, there were a total of about 33,100 reserve members across the country. In addition, there are a total of about 4,400 fast-response Self-Defense Reservists who are required to participate in 30 day’s training a year.
Since the reservist system began in 1954, reserve personnel were summoned on two occasions – the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016. On the former occasion, 60% of all summoned reservists, including fast-response SDF reservists, responded and participated in the disaster-relief activities. In the latter case, only fast-response reservists were summoned and 40% responded.
According to a senior official in the Defense Ministry, the ministry judged that gaining understanding from employers of the SDF reservists was essential to maintain and increase the SDF reservists. Under the circumstances, the ministry began in September 2017 a service to provide employers with information on the mission of the SDF reservists and their training schedule and locations.