The Defense Agency and the National Police Agency have reached a basic agreement that Self-Defense Force troops should be mobilized to deal with subversive activities by armed guerrillas, government sources said Saturday.
The heads of the two agencies will conclude a new accord by the end of the year on how they will divide the responsibilities of dealing with domestic security emergencies, paving the way for the SDF to accept a larger role, the sources said.
The current agreement, concluded in 1954, was mainly designed to suppress large-scale riots and the SDF’s role was limited to backup support for the police force.
The new accord calls for the SDF to assume the primary role in containing subversive activities by armed guerrillas that could overpower the police. The police will be in charge of logistic support, such as cordoning off areas or operating vehicle check points.
It also calls for the establishment of restricted-access radio communication channels between the SDF and police, which would allow them to coordinate their operations more closely, as well as the compilation of guidelines for joint action to defend major infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants, airports and port facilities, the sources said.
The two agencies started discussions on the new agreement after the intrusion in March 1999 of a suspected North Korean spy ship into Japanese territorial waters.
In its next five-year defense buildup program from fiscal 2001, the Defense Agency plans to request budgetary allocations for the creation of a special anti-guerrilla unit within the Ground Self-Defense Force.
A senior GSDF official said, “The current anti-riot units of the police will not be able to cope with heavily-armed and specially trained foreign subversive forces.” The prime minister is empowered to mobilize SDF troops in cases of domestic security emergencies if the police force alone is deemed insufficient to maintain public order.
However, no such order has been issued by the prime minister since Nobusuke Kishi’s request for SDF troops to help contain mass demonstrations when the 1960 revision of the Japan-U.S. security agreement was rejected by then Defense Agency chief Munenori Akagi.
Agreements between the Defense Agency and the National Police Agency over the division of their responsibilities in the event of an emergency do not require Diet approval and are effectively kept secret.