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Japan ‘Dynamic Defense Force’ moves toward implementation

Date Posted: 2011-04-29

The Japanese government is getting ready to flesh out details of the National Defense Program Guidelines it adopted late last year, introducing a new concept of a “dynamic defense force” to replace a “basic defense force” concept originally introduced more than three decades ago.

The "basic defense force" concept was introduced in 1976 when Japan adopted its first defense buildup program. The Basic defense force meant having the minimum capability to defend Japan as an independent state against the threat of the Soviet Union. This led to the placement of Self-Defense Forces troops across Japan, including the deployment of a tank regiment and other core troops in Hokkaido, northernmost Japan.

By contrast, the dynamic defense force concept is aimed at enabling SDF troops to move flexibly and promptly address security concerns such as terrorist and guerilla attacks. The new concept puts emphasis on the defense of the Nansei Islands in the southwestern Japan prefectures of Kagoshima and Okinawa, in part to check China's increasing naval activities in waters surrounding Japan.

The Defense Ministry set up an in-house committee late last year, centered under the senior vice minister of defense to promote structural reform of Japan's defense capability. Jun Azumi, the senior vice minister at that time, said the committee would eliminate the adverse effects of a "turf mind-set" at the Ground, Maritime and Air SDFs and realize the integrated operation of the three forces for dynamic defense. The committee is due to sort out points of contention later this month and adopt a set of reform proposals in June.

The ministry will also launch a joint drill of the three forces in fiscal year 2011 for the defense of Nansei Islands under the scenario of warding off enemy battleships by deploying the surface-to-ship missile regiment of the GSDF and other troops. With a budget of ¥100 million set aside for the new fiscal year that starts in April, the drill is planned to take place on islands in the area this autumn. Among operations planned for the joint drill, a transport vessel of the MSDF will be mobilized to carry troops of the GSDF missile regiment stationed in the city of Kumamoto, while F-2 fighter jets of the ASDF will attack an enemy special task force at sea.

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