It should really just be common sense, they say

It’s been more than a week since Typhoon Hagibis swept through central and eastern Japan and dumped torrential rains on the region, leaving much of the countryside completely under water from flooded rivers. Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) are working tirelessly around the clock to rescue those stranded, to clear debris and restore order, and to provide relief for those who have lost their homes.

▼ Rescue and relief efforts in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures

Because they’re working long hours, often spent doing exhausting manual labor, they naturally need to take short breaks every once in a while. Many people in other countries might consider it a given that JSDF in uniform would be stopping into convenience stores for a bite to eat or to use the restroom, but in Japan, that’s not the case. In fact, the Ministry of Defense/Japan Self-Defense Forces’ official Twitter account for disaster relief (@ModJapan_saigai) purposefully had to make a post announcing permission for troops to use convenience store bathrooms.

▼ Translation below

“To help support our troops’ readiness for emergency relief activities, we have requested permission from Seven Eleven Japan, Family Mart, and Lawson for our troops to use their restrooms. As more and more women are becoming JSDF members, we are very thankful for your kindness.”

It might sound surprising that the JSDF had to request permission for their troops to use the restroom, or that they had to announce it at all, but given that police officers drinking coffee on duty or even holding drinks while in uniform have been considered slacking off, it’s not surprising that a JSDF member in a convenience store would also be looked down upon.

According to Masahisa Sato, member of the House of Councillors and retired colonel in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, there have been complaints about JSDF members “slacking off” when they were seen in convenience stores in the past, which is likely why the announcement had to be made. But he assured reporters that the JSDF are not using convenience stores to take a break. “If JSDF members are in convenience stores,” he explained, “It’s usually to help transport supplies or use the toilets.”

▼ JSDF troops offered food to affected residents in Hitachi Omiya City in Ibaraki Prefecture from 6 a.m. to sundown.

Still, many Japanese netizens who saw the tweet were appalled that it had to be announced at all:

“The JSDF are people too, and I can’t believe they have to get permission for something like this…It’s sad how many narrow-minded people there are in this world.”
“We live in perplexing times.”
“Even though there are tons of salarymen going to the movies in the middle of the day…”
“There’s really no reason why you should have to explain or be grateful. It’s so weird that you have to ask permission. You don’t have to pay attention to those who have stupid things to say.”
“Those who are complaining about it shouldn’t be allowed to use the toilets.”
“The ones who criticized them for ‘slacking off’ are the ones who are working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without a single second of rest, right?”

Though many people expressed anger at the very notion of the JSDF having to ask for permission to use public toilets, many more replied to the tweet with statements supporting the relief workers, with comments such as, “Please take care of yourself!”, “Hang in there!”, and “Thank you for all of your hard work!”

▼ JSDF members work to clear debris and restore power in Chiba Prefecture

So, yes, there may be terrible people out there who look down on hardworking people just for taking a moment’s break to use the bathroom, but thankfully the majority of people support the JSDF and the volunteers working hard in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis. If you see one in a convenience store near you, make sure you give them a smile and a “Thank you!” Surely it will help lift some of the weight off their shoulders.

Source: Twitter/@ModJapan_saigai, livedoor news via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@ModJapan_saigai
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