Go to contents

Nothing Defensive About Japan’s SDF

Posted July. 14, 2006 03:01,   


Every time North Korea fired missiles, Japan was quick to exaggerate the danger of North Korea and to step up its armament. Japan already possesses one of the biggest military powers in the world in terms of both weapons and budget. Some say that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) has limits, because the Japanese SDF is composed of only officers and has never been at war. Experts point out, however, that Japan has the potential to manufacture nuclear weapons and is one of the three biggest military forces in the world, if its electronic weapons equipped with cutting-edge technology.

For self-defense only-

New tanks and armored cars, two vehicles the Japanese are churning out, cost about 900 million yen, or 7.7 billion won. The Japanese SDF also possess 490 helicopters, among which 89 of them are Apache helicopters.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) owns four Aegis cruisers – the most in the world after the U.S. It is also planning to add four more cruisers. One cruiser costs about 1 trillion won, and according to one executive of Japan’s MSDF, it would need to be attacked by 50 fighter jets at once to be sunk. Besides the Aegis cruisers, Japanese MSDF has more than a hundred P-3C anti-submarine weapons, which are capable of firing surface to air missiles. The Japanese Air Self Defense Forces own some 200 F15J fighter jets, second most after the U.S.

Breaking free of bounds-

The self-defense forces might end up doing more than self-defense. It is breaking free of its inhibitions one by one.

Japan has long been working to increase its military strength. Citing the North Korean threat, it enacted its “three war-time laws,” integrated its ground, maritime, and air forces of the Japan Self-defense Agency, and developed a missile defense system. It abolished a part of its three rules prohibiting the export of weapons, and dispatched its forces in what it called an effort for world peace.

A bill that involves the promotion of the Japan Self-defense Agency, from an agency to a ministry, an item high on the agenda of the Japanese right, was submitted. The bill maps out separating the Japan Self-defense Agency from the Cabinet Office and promoting it to a ministry and promoting the minister of the Japan Self-defense Agency to the minister of the Self-defense Ministry. The Japanese ruling party is planning to pass the bill during a special session of the Diet. This may lead to amendments to Japan’s pacifist Constitution. The Liberal Democratic Party, which is the ruling party, in 2005, introduced its first draft of the Constitution amendment, which legalizes the possession of a military.

Besides this bill, the Japanese are looking into legislating the “harbor act,” which allows the Japanese forces to send soldiers abroad at any time.

North Korea is aiding Japan’s ambitions-

North Korea’s missile launch will only accelerate Japan’s rearmament. North Korea gave Japan a good motive to advance its rearmament plans, including the introduction of the missile defense system

Japan will install three Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air missiles next year, which was initially planned for March 2008. From 2007 to 2010 it will introduce the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) on its four Aegis cruisers.

Besides these movements, it will place a PAC3 in Iruma Air Base in Saitama Prefecture where naval Japanese self-defense forces are located by the end of this year. Japan is reviewing its plan to set forward the introduction of four new FPS-XX radars, which detects long-range missiles.

It is already well known that Japan has the ability to make nuclear weapons. Although Japan does not possess nuclear weapons, it holds 40 tons of plutonium – which makes it the fourth-largest holder of the material in the world. Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori Prefecture, which went into test operations in March 31, will give Japan access to four tons of plutonium every year starting next August. Five tons of plutonium is enough to manufacture a thousand nuclear weapons.

Experts project that by the way Japan is acting, it may turn its plutonium and nuclear technology to nuclear weapons at any time. With a self-defense force that can go to war, it may some day wage a preemptive one.

Young-A Soh sya@donga.com