SDP poster hinting at death of SDF member abroad stirs controversy

A new poster released by the opposition Social Democratic Party to protest a decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense has triggered a controversy, as it hints at the death of a Self-Defense Forces member engaged in fighting overseas.

The poster issued in mid-July carries a picture of a boy crouching down in a street with the captions, "Since that day, my dad has not come back," and "Such a future would be unbearable."

The party said the boy is the child of an SDF member and the poster underlined the pain of the SDF member's family.

SDP leader Tadatomo Yoshida said the poster is "stimulating" and suggests "an increased chance of SDF personnel being killed," now that Japan has lifted its self-imposed ban on the exercise of collective self-defense by reinterpreting its pacifist Constitution.

Toshihiro Yama, 34, an SDP member of the city assembly of Konan in central Japan's Aichi Prefecture, wrote in his blog, "We'd like to avoid thinking about tragic and cruel situations, but the use of the right to collective self-defense could make such a condition a reality."

Yama is one of the party's local assembly members who devised the concept of the poster.

Masahisa Sato of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, a former SDF member who previously served as parliamentary vice defense minister, said he is "outraged" and "feels sad" about the poster.

Sato posted on Twitter that he is concerned about how SDF personnel and their families feel about the poster and he slammed the SDP for trying to "exploit the suffering" of SDF family members," even though the party advocates human rights.

Supporters and opponents of the poster have posted their opinions over the Internet, with some saying it is "convincing," and others saying that it suggests a "leap" in logic.