Japan’s Defense Ministry eyes new equipment procurement agency

Kyodo

The Defense Ministry has approved a draft plan for organizational reform that would include creating an agency to oversee procurement and management of equipment and facilities for the Self-Defense Forces.

For more efficient and swift troop management, the reform plan adopted Friday also envisages consolidating duties and operations under the Joint Staff Office. This work is currently shared between uniformed SDF personnel and civilian officials at the Defense Ministry.

To retain a framework of civilian control, however, government officials would be tasked with drafting and formulating laws related to troop management.

The reorganization, approved at a meeting of ranking ministry officials, would take place in fiscal 2015 at the earliest after hearing views from within the government.

The proposed establishment of a defense equipment agency is aimed at reducing procurement costs by centralizing development, purchasing and decommissioning operations for equipment and facilities, which is now managed separately by the three SDF branches.

The proposal may face challenges, as the Defense Ministry has previously been hesitant about concentrating so much power in one agency, which could breed collusion with suppliers.

On cyber-attacks, the draft plan calls for the development of a system enabling thorough communications with the United States.

As a goal for fiscal 2014, the proposal cites a plan to enhance communications between SDF personnel and civilian officials by creating 56 posts for SDF officers in the Defense Ministry’s bureaus.

The ministry aims to create a new vice-ministerial post in charge of negotiations with foreign governments and will introduce the necessary legislation to the Diet next year.

The ministry also aims to set up a media center to aggregate and publish information in times of emergency and other unforeseen incidents and developments.