By The Sankei Shimbun
Japan’s first female fighter pilot was appointed to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) on August 23. She told reporters, “My longtime dream has come true.”
Fighter pilots are regarded as star members within JASDF. Among their number, though, are the even more carefully-selected small group of Blue Impulse pilots — Japan’s cream of the crop aerobatic demonstration team.
In October 1964, Blue Impulse performed at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, unforgettably drawing Olympic rings in the sky with colored smoke. Even now, the extremely skillful aerobatic performances by Blue Impulse are the main attractions at air shows held across the country.
However, at an air show festival held at the Komaki Air Base in Aichi prefecture last March, the Blue Impulse exhibition was cancelled, resulting in the number of visitors dramatically decreasing to 10,000, a decrease of nearly 85% compared with 2017, which recorded approximately 62,000 visitors.
The reason behind the cancellation was a local group’s complaint with the District Public Prosecutor’s Office of Nagoya, arguing that the performance “breaches aviation law.”
In Konosu City, Saitama Prefecture, Japanese Communist Party (JCP) members of the local city council and others are calling for the cancellation of the air show scheduled to take place this October. “Air shows cannot be separated from combat,” they proclaim.
Just recently in the same city, a Self-Defense Force event scheduled to take place at a shopping facility on August 20 and 21 was forced to cancel. Again, the JCP’s protest against the event was behind the cancellation.
An ex-fighter pilot named Captain Sorai is the central character of Hiro Arikawa’s novel, Public Affair’s Office in The Sky (Japanese, April 2016, Gentosha Publishing). Although he was selected to become a Blue Impulse pilot, Sorai is assigned to the public relations department after suffering an injury in an accident.
In one scene, Sorai loses his cool and raises his voice when a female reporter interviews him and asks, “Isn’t a fighter jet a killing machine?”
Sorai implores her to understand. “The Self-Defense Force is exclusively dedicated to defense only. We would never attack on foreign soil!”
Fortunately, as the female reporter continues her coverage, she gradually comes to understand the meaning of Sorai’s words.
However, those who eagerly work to promote the misimpression that the “Self-Defense Force Equals War” seem to have no intention of listening.