To facilitate better understanding between civilian and uniformed officials, the Defense Agency is planning to assign would-be executive officials to local officer posts in the Self-Defense Forces, Vice Defense Minister Masahiro Akiyama said Thursday.

Although uniformed SDF officers are “loaned” to the agency’s intraministerial bureau when they take turns contributing “special knowledge,” a reciprocal arrangement is unprecedented.

Citing recent situations in which civilian and uniformed officials have collaborated in solving problems concerning Okinawa and new guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, Akiyama stressed the need for further cooperation to cope with changes to SDF and national defense policies since the end of the Cold War.

“It’s not right for the administration and (SDF) units to be apart from each other,” Akiyama told a news conference. “By providing middle management executives with first-hand experience in (SDF) units, we’ll be able to carry out overall defense administration more efficiently.”

Yuji Fujinawa, chief of staff of the Ground Self-Defense Force, hailed the move, saying that he “can appreciate that the intraministerial bureau is trying to comprehend (the actual situation of SDF) units that are active on the front line.”

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