The Diet approved on April 25 the creation of a combat-ready military reserve force capable of joining frontline missions in emergencies.

The new system was included in revisions to laws governing the Self-Defense Forces and the Defense Agency passed during the Upper House plenary session. The system was introduced to make up for cuts in Ground Self-Defense Force troops under the National Defense Program Outline adopted in November 1995. The outline reduced the authorized GSDF strength from 180,000 to 145,000 troops, while allowing for up to 15,000 combat-ready reserves.

Unlike regular SDF reserve troops, whose missions will be limited to logistical duties, the combat-ready reserves are to be capable of handling combat missions during emergencies. They are also to be ready for mobilization for security and disaster relief efforts.

As with the regular reserves, the agency plans to hire former SDF members to become combat-ready troops. They will be obliged to undergo 30 days of training each year, while regular reserves currently receive only five days of training a year.

Combat-ready reserves will receive higher salaries than regular reserves, and the Defense Agency will pay compensation to their employers. With the enactment of the revisions, the GSDF plans to hire 700 combat-ready reserves for its 4th Division based in Fukuoka Prefecture during the current fiscal year. The GSDF eventually plans to keep 15,000 combat-ready reserves, so the overall number of its troops will stand at 160,000 in times of emergency.

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