Saturday, March 27, 2010

Embedded on a mission with the Japanese armed forces!

With last night world excitation about North Korea attempt to declare a IIIrd World War, following what apparently is a mere accidental sinking of a South Korean naval ship, all eyes are turned in direction of North Korea. I decided to join the Japanese Self Defense Forces for a few hours, and check how I am defended in the country where I live. And for a while I could both ride on a formidable fire power tank T-90 and get the thrill of a Top Gun aboard a JSDF Air Force jet F-15! Here is the amazing account of events and report of this extraordinary embedded adventure with one of the most technology advanced armed forces in the world records! Today's Asian Gazette focus is on the GSDF, the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces

Better test the military than just speak about it, I decided to ride a T 90, made by Mitsubishi, it was in top north and under a freezing Siberian weather...

Conductor on 1 of the 200 tanks T-90 of the 7th Armored Division of the JSDF.
Chitose, Hokkaido Northern Japan, 1300 p.m.

The Type 90 is the current main battle tank (MBT) of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). It is built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and was designed as a replacement for all deployed Type 61s and a portion of their Type 74 tanks, and entered service in 1990. It's complemented by the Type 10 tank.

70-km/h on a 50 tons T 90 with a devilish fire power, let's keep the smile for the picture

Japan actively prepares its armed forces, called here Self Defense Forces! SDF and not "armed forces", a semantic issue not to contradict the well-known article 9 of Japanese "pacifist" Constitution. The Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is a clause in the National Constitution of Japan that prohibits an act of war by the state, Japan.

Constitution of Japan
Renunciation of war

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

But should Japan be threatened, the defense doctrine exists! With or without the US Japan military alliance. "Due to end the Cold War around end of 1980's to the beginning of 1990's, the likelihood of large-scale conflicts between major countries has been declining. On the other hand, in Northeast Asia, long-standing issues of territorial rights and reunification continue to plague the region. In addition, this region has seen various political systems and numerous countries with strong military power since lack of transparency and uncertainty remains..." wrote General Hibako, Chief of Staff, GSDF.


If a threat or an aggression is committed say, by a neighbor, North Korea, China, Russia, a terrorist organization, more or less close to Japan archipelago, Japanese armed forces are ready, in a context of limited budget anyhow. The doctrine is defined and reviewed constantly.

"While the probability of the occurrence of full-scale aggression against our country seems to be on the decline, there is a need to adapt to new threats and diverse contingencies. As a result, the GSDF revised its equipment and personnel. At the same time, however, the GSDF must still maintain the fundamental capability to respond to full-scale aggression, as this is the primary role of the GSDF and preparing for and maintaining the requisite posture to deal with any possible aggression takes a considerable amount of time (cannot be built-up in a short period of time.) "

One permanent obsession : "The issue of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) represents significant threat to the international community. Countries developing ballistic missiles such as North Korea are increasing. It is important how international community responds to these threats."

Main points of the defense doctrine:

1 Strengthening Joint Operation structure
2 Strengthening Defense Capability in Capital and Urban Area
3 Improvement of Dispatching Postures of international peace cooperation activities
4 Strengthen the Defense of Offshore Islands (South-West Islands, Okinawa)
5 Reform of Basic Operating Units
6 Upgrading Combat Power

And this 6th point, the Upgrading Combat Power is what I went to see invited by the Ministry of Defense, on the Hokkaido island, north of Japan, at the Chitose region based GSDF 7th Division, "the" Japanese Armored Division. But this Combat Power is not exactly what the military personal are happy about. As the general Hibako wrote in his joined forces report: :"The manpower in GSDF units, especially front line units, has not been sufficient yet. Therefore, promoting various measures to secure desired manpower, GSDF continues various reviews to improve efficiency of force employment." Quite bureaucratic. it means that Japan is unable to answer to a serious threat, alone. For a description, this page is well designed, although needs updates.

One issue, the innovation. Here is the new electronics soldier, equipped with chips to describe if when and where the personal is wounded, online... or dead. See the little module on his right pocket chest? Linked to local unit command and the Headquarters. Sensors on soldiers battle fatigues will tell all about the location and condition of the 21st century warrior.

Japan military personals expect clear-cut defense policy updates!

For the GSDF, ... "it is required to review the present ground defense capability in order to deal with the changes of the times appropriately, develop the ground defense capability which the public rely on to be suitable on in the 21st century, as well as to secure the peace and independence of Japan and "the safety and security" of the people in future." The GSDF will make an effort to meet... and building up the organization that can accomplish the given mission steadily."

Problem is that Japan's defense-related budget decreased 0.8 percent to 4,702.8 billion yen in fiscal 2009, (38 billion Euros), for the seventh consecutive year of decline under the government's fiscal austerity.

From what we can read in Japanese media, the military personal expect current Hatoyama administration to "better understand the reality" of military affairs. There is not a month without criticisms from politic and military experts joined by the military industrial complex of Japan , illustrated by the "heavy" military industries such as Mitsubishi, Kawasaki etc, raising questions about the future independence and sovereignty of Japan. Japan who has great expectation in a modification of rules allowing the archipelago to launch military exports.

It won't equal the top 5.

The five biggest suppliers of major conventional weapons for the period 2005–2009 were the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The USA and Russia remained by far the largest exporters, accounting for 30 per cent and 23 per cent of all exports, respectively... The volume of France’s arms exports increased by almost 30 per cent in 2005–2009 in comparison with 2000–2004. French exports have been boosted by deliveries of 25 Mirage-2000 combat aircraft to Greece and 34 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as ongoing deliveries of La Fayette frigates to Singapore. In September 2009 France reached final agreement with Brazil to supply 50 EC-725 helicopters, 4 conventionally powered submarines and some of the technology required for a nuclear powered submarine. France is also confident of winning Brazil’s long-standing competition for 36 combat aircraft.

But as some military experts told me, the day when Japan wants to engage into serious sales of military products as it did of cars, cameras and fax machines, the world might very well tremble... Looks like some politicians and scholars have it deeply rooted in mind.

Embarked on flying thrills with an F-15, location and destination... classified.

With my thanks to the Japanese Self Defenses Forces of Hokkaido and to the ministry of Defense.

☝✔Review of the JSDF forces

Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF), is the military ground force (army) of Japan. It is the largest of the three services of the JSDF, the Ground Self-Defense Force operates under the command of the chief of the ground staff, based in Tokyo.

The National Security Board started in 1952. The police reserve force was in the National Security Board subordinate with the Maritime Guard and Maritime Safety Agency minesweeping corps, and it was reorganized by National Security Force, a garrison. These were performed by the influence of the Korean War.

Organization consists of:

Tactical organization: The GSDF consists of one armored division, nine infantry divisions (each with three or four infantry regiments, each the size of a British infantry battalion), one airborne brigade, two combined brigades, four training brigades, one artillery brigade with two groups, two air defense brigades with three groups, one helicopter brigade with twenty-four squadrons and two anti-tank helicopter platoons.

5th Infantry Regiment is with 9th Division, 6th Inf Regt. with 5th Brigade, 10th Infantry Regiment with 11th Div., 11th Infantry Regiment with 7th Division, and 25th and 26th Infantry Regiments with 2nd Division.

Special Forces: Special Forces units consist of the following:

CRF: Central Readiness Force
SOG: Special Operations Group
1st Airborne Brigade
1st Helicopter Brigade
Western Army Infantry Regiment

Equipments include:

Type 90 (315)
Type 74 (561)
Infantry fighting vehicles:

Type 89 Fighting Vehicle (70)

Self-propelled artillery:
Type 74 105mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
Type 75 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
M110 howitzer
Type 99 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer

Towed artillery:
FH-70 (480)

M2 107mm mortar
Type 64 81mm mortar
81mm mortar l16
120mm mortar rt
Type 96 120mm self-propelled mortar

Armoured vehicles:
Type 82 command and communication vehicle
Type 87 reconnaissance and warning vehicle
Light armored vehicle

Armoured personnel carriers:
Type 60 armored personnel carrier
Type 73 armored personnel carrier
Type 96 wheeled armored personnel carrier

Air defense vehicles:
Type 87 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun

Anti-aircraft guns:
35mm Anti-Aircraft Twin Cannon L-90 Switzerland


Type 01 light anti-tank missile
Type 64 anti-tank missile
Type 79 anti-landing craft and anti-tank missile
Type 87 anti-tank missile
Type 88 surface-to-ship missile
Type 96 multi-purpose missile system


Fim-92a stinger
Type 81 short-range surface-to-air missile
Type 91 portable surface-to-air missile
Type 93 short-range surface-to-air missile
Type 03 medium-range surface-to-air missile

Other vehicles:

White mitsubishi type 73 jeeps used by JGSDF military police units
Mitsubishi type 73 jeeps

Small arms:

Howa type 89
Howa type 64
Minebea pm-9
Fn minimi
Howa type 96
M4 carbine
M16 rifle
Ntk-62 machine gun
Sig p220
Sig p226
M24 sniper weapon system
Howa 84rr
Isuzu 110mm

At last! Home! Safe!

Sources: Reporter's notes, wire news, GSDF, MoD Japan.

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