Photo/IllutrationSenior Vice Foreign Minister Masahisa Sato, left, sits next to Foreign Minister Taro Kono during a Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee session in September. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Masahisa Sato, a former colonel in the Ground Self-Defense Force, has come under fire for reciting an SDF-style “oath” in the Diet on Dec. 5.

In remarks at the Upper House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Sato said, “While working on my duties, I am determined to respond to the mandate of the people by making every effort to carry out my responsibilities while laying my life on the line, regardless of the dangers I may face.”

An oath of service is sworn under the Self-Defense Forces Law when a person joins the SDF.

The statement of Sato, an Upper House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, drew flak from opposition lawmakers.

Hiroyuki Konishi of the Democratic Party said, “Japan’s diplomacy was once controlled by the military.”

The Democratic Party’s Yukihisa Fujita also criticized Sato at the Upper House Constitution Commission on Dec. 6, saying his words were inappropriate for "a senior vice foreign minister engaged in diplomacy, which is the polar opposite to using force with the determination of a military man's spirit.”

Responding to the criticism when the same committee convened on Dec. 7, Sato said, “It is very regrettable if my statement caused a misunderstanding as a result.”

He added, “My words were not an oath of service, but a statement showing my basic stance of making every effort to accomplish my responsibilities as senior vice foreign minister.”