Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
|Japan Ground Self-Defense Force|
|Founded||July 1, 1954 – present|
|Size||150,000 active personnel|
|Part of||Japan SDF|
|Garrison/HQ||Ichigaya, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan|
|Commander-in-Chief||PM Shinzō Abe|
|Minister of Defense||Tomomi Inada|
|Chief of Staff||Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano
|Chief of the Ground Staff||General Toshiya Okabe|
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (陸上自衛隊 Rikujō Jieitai?), or JGSDF (sometimes referred to as simply the GSDF), is the main branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, responsible for land-based military operations, and is the de facto army of Japan. Created on July 1, 1954, it is the largest of the three services of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
New military guidelines, announced in December 2010, direct the Self-Defense Forces away from their Cold War focus on the Soviet Union to a new focus on China, especially in respect of the dispute over the Senkaku Islands. The JGSDF is chiefly tasked with maintaining internal security in Japan.
The Force operates under the command of the chief of the ground staff, based in the city of Ichigaya, Shinjuku, Tokyo. The present chief of staff is General Kiyofumi Iwata (Japanese: 岩田 清文). The JGSDF numbered around 150,000 soldiers in 2008. As of 2010, the number remained the same at approximately 150,000 personnel.
Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration in 1945, and, in compliance with Article 9, the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy were dismantled. Both were replaced by the United States Armed Forces occupation force, which assumed responsibility for the external defense of Japan.
On the outbreak of the Korean War, many U.S. units were transferred to Korea, and Japan was perceived as lacking defenses. Encouraged by the American occupation authorities, the Japanese government in July 1950 authorized the establishment of a National Police Reserve, consisting of 75,000 men equipped with light infantry weapons.
Under the terms of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, United States forces stationed in Japan were to deal with external aggression against Japan while Japanese forces, both ground and maritime, would deal with internal threats and natural disasters. Accordingly, in mid-1952, the National Police Reserve was expanded to 110,000 men and named the National Safety Forces.
Japan continued to improve its defensive capabilities. On July 1, 1954, the National Security Board was reorganized as the Defense Agency, and the National Security Force was reorganized afterwards as the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Army), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy) and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Air force), with General Keizō Hayashi appointed as the first Chairman of Joint Staff Council—professional head of the three branches. The enabling legislation for this was the 1954 Self-Defense Forces Act [Act No. 165 of 1954].
For a long period, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force possessed a dubious ability to hold off a Soviet invasion of Hokkaido. Zbigniew Brzezinski observed in 1972 that it seemed optimized to fight ‘a Soviet invasion conducted on American patterns of a quarter of a century ago.’ While the force is now an efficient army of around 150,000, its apparent importance had, until recently, seemingly declined with the end of the Cold War, and attempts to reorient the forces as a whole to new post Cold War missions have been tangled in a series of internal political disputes.
In 1989, basic training for lower-secondary and upper-secondary academy graduates began in the training brigade and lasted approximately three months. Specialized enlisted and non-commissioned officer (NCO) candidate courses were available in branch schools and qualified NCOs could enter an eight-to-twelve-week officer candidate program. Senior NCOs and graduates of an eighty-week NCO pilot course were eligible to enter officer candidate schools, as were graduates of the National Defense Academy at Yokosuka and graduates of all four-year universities. Advanced technical, flight, medical and command and staff officer courses were also run by the JGSDF. Like the maritime and air forces, the JGSDF ran a youth cadet program offering technical training to lower-secondary school graduates below military age in return for a promise of enlistment.
Because of population density and urbanization on the Japanese islands, only limited areas are available for large-scale training, and, even in these areas, noise restrictions are extensive. The JGSDF has adapted to these conditions by conducting command post exercises, map manoeuvres, investing in simulators and other training programs, as well as conducting live fire exercises overseas at locations such as the Yakima Training Center in the United States.
The JGSDF has two reserve components: the rapid-reaction reserve component (即応予備自衛官制度) and the main reserve component (一般予備自衛官制度). Members of the rapid-reaction component train 30 days a year. Members of the main reserve train five days a year. As of December 2007, there were 8,425 members of the rapid-reaction reserve component and 22,404 members of the main reserve component.
Maneuver Combat Vehicle (prototype)
- Northern Army, headquartered in Sapporo, Hokkaido
- North Eastern Army, headquartered in Sendai, Miyagi
- Eastern Army, headquartered in Nerima, Tokyo
- Central Army, headquartered in Itami, Hyōgo
- Western Army, headquartered at Kumamoto, Kumamoto
- Other Units and Organizations
- Material Control Command
- Ground Research & Development Command
- Signal Brigade
- Military Police
- Military Intelligence Command
- Intelligence Security Command
- Ground Staff College
- Ground Officer Candidate School
The GSDF consists of the following tactical units:
- one armored division (7th),
- eight infantry divisions, each with three battalion-sized infantry regiments,
- six infantry brigades (5th Brigade, 11th Brigade, 12th Brigade, 13th Brigade, 14th Brigade, and 15th Brigade)
- one airborne brigade (1st Airborne Brigade),
- five combined (training) brigades,
- one artillery brigade,
- two air defense brigades,
- four engineer brigades,
- one helicopter brigade with twenty-four squadrons and two anti-tank helicopter platoons.
JGSDF divisions and brigades are combined arms units with infantry, armored, and artillery units, combat support units and logistical support units. They are regionally independent and permanent entities. The divisions strength varies from 6,000 to 9,000 personnel. The brigades are smaller with 3,000 to 4,000 personnel.
Special Forces units consist of the following:
- CRF: Central Readiness Force (中央即応集団 Chūō Sokuō Shūdan): ~4,500 personnel combination of: 1st Airborne Brigade, 1st Helicopter Brigade, Japanese Special Forces Group, and the 101st NBC Protection Unit
- Headquarters – Camp Asaka, Nerima, Tokyo with 230 personnel
- 1st Airborne Brigade – Camp Narashino, Funabashi, Chiba with 1,900 personnel
- 1st Helicopter Brigade – Camp Kisarazu, Kisarazu, Chiba with 900 personnel
- Central Readiness Force Regiment – Camp Utsunomiya, Utsunomiya, Tochigi with 700 personnel
- Japanese Special Forces Group – Camp Narashino, Funabashi, Chiba with 600 personnel
- Central Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapon Defense Unit – Camp Ōmiya, Kita-ku, Saitama with 155 personnel
- NBC Counter Medical Unit – Camp Asaka, Nerima, Tokyo with 70 personnel
- International Peace Cooperation Activities Training Unit – Camp Komakado, Gotemba, Shizuoka with 80 personnel
- Headquarters – Camp Asaka, Nerima, Tokyo with 230 personnel
- Western Army Infantry Regiment (西部方面普通科連隊 Seibu Hōmen Futsū-ka Rentai), light infantry unit trained for amphibious operations.
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- Military ranks and insignia of the Japan Self-Defense Forces
- Ministry of Defense (Japan)
- Maritime Operational Transport concept (Japan)
- IISS Military Balance 2008, Routledge, London, 2008, p.384
- IISS 2010, pp. 408–411
- Encyclopedia Britannica, Self Defense Force, accessed February 2015.
- Frank Kowalski, An Inoffensive Rearmament: The Making of the Postwar Japanese Army, Naval Institute Press, 2014, p.72
- "Japan Self-Defense Force | Defending Japan". Defendingjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Fragile Blossom (Harper, 1972) p.95, in James H. Buck, ‘The Japanese Military in the 1980s,’ in James H. Buck (ed.), The Modern Japanese Military System, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills/London, 1975, p.220
-  Archived March 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
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