Japan eyes permanent joint HQ for SDF


The government might set up a permanent joint headquarters under the chief of staff of the Joint Staff to control the Self-Defense Forces in an integrated manner, it has been learned.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also plans to set up the post of dedicated commander at the envisaged headquarters, modeled chiefly after the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the British military, the sources said Saturday.

The Abe government used a legal revision last year to strip civilian defense bureaucrats of their authority over their uniformed SDF counterparts to put them on an equal footing.

The new joint headquarters would further expand the role that uniformed officers are set to play within the SDF.

According to the sources, the dedicated commander will have authority to move Ground, Maritime and Air SDF troops with support from both Defense Ministry bureaucrats and SDF officers. In case of a military conflict or natural disaster, the commander will execute commands from the prime minister, the defense minister and the Joint Staff chief by effectively mobilizing all three forces.

Currently, the Joint Staff chief is tasked with supervising the commander of each force. But at the same time, the chief has to assist the defense minister and take charge of work to compile defense budgets and draft bills and ordinances.

The new headquarters and command post, the establishment of which could be stipulated in the next five-year national defense program due in fiscal 2018, are expected to facilitate prompt, comprehensive SDF responses to terrorism, nuclear and missile attacks, as well as to any foreign military’s invasion of a remote island or to natural disaster, the sources said.