View Full Version : JSDF Peacekeepers

Joseph Svinth
11th January 2003, 01:01
Legal revision sought to upgrade SDF peace duty

The Asahi Shimbun

Agency says changes are needed to improve peacekeeping.

A decade after Self-Defense Forces first took part in such operations in Cambodia, Defense Agency officials are taking steps toward a legal revision that would upgrade SDF participation in U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping operations from an auxiliary to a principal duty.

The actual legal steps necessary will be considered once a committee laying the groundwork for a review of the National Defense Program Outline releases its report at year-end, sources said.

In a related matter, in December an advisory panel to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda recommended a review of the five principles that now dictate which peacekeeping activities the SDF can participate in.

Analysts say debate within the government over the role the SDF should play in peacekeeping activities will likely increase over the next year.

Article 3 of the SDF Law states that defending the nation is the SDF's main duty, with secondary duties being preserving public safety and dealing with natural disasters.

Among the auxiliary duties as outlined by law are civil engineering work and the transportation of state guests.

Though classified as an auxiliary duty, peacekeeping activities have increased in scale and importance over the years. For example, about 690 personnel, including members of the Corps of Engineers, are now deployed in East Timor. Yet while the Ground Self-Defense Force is mainly involved in peacekeeping activities, the force's organization and equipment are more suited to homeland defense. By raising peacekeeping activities to the level of a principal duty the GSDF can conduct a review of its equipment and organization, including what form its peacekeeping contingents should take and how to train personnel for such duties.

Such a review would better prepare the GSDF to take part in a wider range of peacekeeping activities, sources say.

Among the new equipment required by SDF peacekeepers would be large long-range transport aircraft. In the future, units would be kept on standby to deal with peacekeeping activities rather than formed as the need arises, as is the case now.

However, since any review of equipment and unit organization will require budget outlays and personnel transfers, the transformation of the SDF will be a gradual process, even after peacekeeping activities are upgraded to a principal duty.

An emphasis on peacekeeping activities will also require that adjustments be made to the basic defense policy and defense buildup plans.(IHT/Asahi: January 4,2003)