Western Army (Japan)

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Western Army (Japan)
JGSDF Western Army.svg
Active 1 December 1955 – present
Country  Japan
Branch Flag of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.svg Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Size Army
Part of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Garrison/HQ Camp Kengun, Kumamoto, Kyūshū
Lt. Gen. Kiyoshi Ogawa

The Western Army (西部方面隊?) is one of five active Armies of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. It is headquartered in Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture. Its responsibility is the defense of Kyūshū and Okinawa.


Operational Structure of the Western Army 2011


PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 25, 2011) Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Western Army Infantry Regiment launch rigid-hull inflatable boats from the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8). Marines and Japanese soldiers are participating in Exercise Iron Fist, a bilateral training exercise to enhance their amphibious knowledge. (U.S. Navy photo by Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Justin Joyner/Released)

In August 2010, a proposal was being considered by the then Japanese government to convert a conventional [battalion strength] regiment from either the 8th Division or the 15th Brigade into a "US-style" amphibious unit,[1] effectively giving the Western Army a battalion of marines for dealing with contingencies. This proposal seems have been shelved or fallen into limbo in the interim.

As of June 2013, as part of an ongoing expansion of defense capabilities in the Western Army's area of responsibility, the MOD were considering creating a special "isle assault unit", whose role would be the recapture of remote Japanese islands that had been invaded by a foreign power.,[2] It would share this mission with the pre-existing Western Army Infantry Regiment, itself currently undergoing an expansion in manpower and equipment (e.g. increase in authorised strength to 680 effectives, & adding (initially 4) AAVP-7A1's to its TOE). Equipment for the new unit on the other hand, may ultimately include the Maneuver Combat Vehicle and the Light-weight Combat Vehicle (LCV) System, both of which were designed in part with the remote island defence mission in mind.

If stood up, the new unit together with the WAIR would form a major part of the Western Army's first response to a hostile incursion in the more remote parts of its AOR. In early September 2015, plans for the creation of the new unit, now referred to as an 'amphibious mobile unit'[3] were confirmed. The new unit is to be stood up by the end of FY2017, with a training corps to be set up in the interim (by the end of FY2016).

In 2013 troops from the Western Army Infantry Regiment deployed from the JS Hyuga and JS Shimokita for an amphibious warfare exercise in California.[4]

Other Developments[edit]

Under current plans, the Western Army will have priority on deliveries of the new Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile upgrade (six sets on order to date [July 2013]). The Type 12 will be initially deployed with the 5th Anti-Ship Missile Regiment, but ultimately the 6th Anti-Ship Missile Regiment (deactivated 21 April 2011[5]) may be reactivated to operate the new systems.

Note: GSDF Anti-Ship Missile Regiments are alternatively known as Surface-to-Surface Missile Regiments.


  1. ^ Japanese "Marines" sigma1.wordpress.com
  2. ^ Special SDF isle assault unit in works Japan Times 13 June 2013
  3. ^ "Record defense budget request shifts focus to islands closest to China". The Asahi Shimbun. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Spitzer, Kirk (25 April 2013). "Japanese Invasion Fleet Heads For California — Then Where?". Battlefield. Time. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Japanese Wikipedia entry on 6th Anti-Ship Missile Regiment, accessed 9 July 2013

External links[edit]