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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 August 29 - September 4  > Defense Ministry requests budget to increase SDF’s overseas combat capabilities
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2007 August 29 - September 4 TOP3 [US FORCES]

Defense Ministry requests budget to increase SDF’s overseas combat capabilities

September 1, 2008
The Defense Ministry’s budget request sheds light on the dangerous policy of rapidly turning the Self-Defense Forces from “defensive defense” forces into armed forces that will carry out overseas operations as its main mission.

The Defense Ministry on August 31 adopted its FY 2008 budget requests totaling 4.837 trillion yen (0.7 percent increase from FY 2007 budget).

This budget request sheds light on the dangerous ministry policy of rapidly turning the Self-Defense Forces from “defensive defense” forces into armed forces that will carry out overseas operations as its main mission.

Overseas combat capabilities

The budget request stressed the necessity of “improving individual SDF personnel’s combat capabilities in order to raise preparedness for international peace cooperation activities.”

In the background of this ministry policy are the recently revised Self-Defense Forces Law that has made SDF overseas operations a primary mission and the experience that the SDF has gained in Iraq.

Taking these into account as the basis of the 2008 budget request, the Ground SDF claims that it needs to “raise GSDF personnel’s combat capabilities that will serve as the basis of mission accomplishment.”

The budget request includes costs to procure about 20,000 new rifles, 20 armored cars, and 180 light armored cars. It also includes developing mobile infantry vehicles that closely resemble U.S. Stryker vehicles deployed in Iraq. Although the Defense Ministry denies that it presupposes overseas operations, those vehicles are designed to allow rapid deployment overseas.

The current legislation to dispatch the SDF abroad, including the Special Measures Law on Iraq and the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, prohibits the SDF from using force abroad in conformity with the Constitution. The Abe government is eager to carry out constitutional revision in order to turn Japan into a nation that will wage wars abroad in defiance of the voters’ severe verdict against this delivered in the recent House of Councilors election. The Defense Ministry’s budget request shows that the SDF is intending to increase its capabilities ahead of constitutional revision.

Strengthening Okinawa-based SDF units

The plan to turn the SDF into armed forces to be deployed abroad was drawn up in the 2005 Japan-U.S. agreement on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan that recognized the global military cooperation between the two countries as an “important element of the alliance.”

This agreement states that the SDF will share the use of U.S. Kadena Air Base and U.S. Marine Corps Camp Hansen in Okinawa so that the U.S. forces and the SDF will accelerate their integration.

The budget request includes expenditures for the deployment to Air SDF Naha Base of F-15 fighter jets, the same type of jets the U.S. deploys to Kadena AB as well as for the construction of facilities needed to upgrade the GSDF First Combined Brigade stationed in Okinawa to a full-scale brigade in 2009.

In order to facilitate the integration between the U.S. forces and the SDF through the shared-use of bases, the SDF is strengthening its units in Okinawa.

Acquiring even stealth fighters

The ministry is also eager to introduce state-of-the-art weapon systems that will inevitably increase tensions in Asia. The centerpiece of this plan is the development of a demonstration model of a Japan-made stealth fighter jet. The ministry aims at conducting its first test flight within five years.

The ministry is considering the U.S. stealth fighter jet F-22 as a strong candidate as the SDF’s next model of primary fighter jets. However, the U.S. has refused to provide Japan with information about the F-22 on the grounds of maintaining state secrecy. The Defense Ministry reportedly wishes to conduct negotiations with the U.S. by demonstrating that it has the option to develop it independently in Japan.
- Akahata, September 1, 2008
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