The Defense Agency has helped place at least 22 former and current Self-Defense Forces officers in local government positions in a bid to bolster civilian crisis management in the event of an attack on Japan, according to a Kyodo News survey released Thursday.

“The knowledge of military affairs of SDF personnel is helpful for local governments,” a senior agency official said, indicating more service members may be posted at prefectural and municipal government offices.

Some of the officials, at 17 prefectures and cities, are already working on war-contingency guidelines for civilian evacuations, although most local governments have limited the officials’ roles to disaster prevention.

Local governments are expected to play an important role in the event of an attack under a planned law on protecting the public during an emergency that the central government is drawing up to supplement three war-contingency laws set to be enacted Friday. The law will spell out limitations on civil rights.

Of the 22 officials, 20 are from the Ground Self-Defense Force, and one each from the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Air Self-Defense Force, the agency and governments said.

Many of the local governments that employ SDF staff had asked the agency to supply them, they said.

Active SDF personnel currently posted at government offices include a GSDF lieutenant colonel who has been working as a section chief of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Disaster Prevention Division since April, and a GSDF captain who has been serving as a deputy chief of Tottori Prefecture’s Disaster and Crisis Management Section since August 2001. The captain is leading Tottori’s efforts to compile evacuation guidelines, including an attack scenario.

The metro government also plans to employ a GSDF captain in July to reinforce its preparations to set up a war-crisis management system.

The former service members posted at government offices mainly served as field and company officers. But a former general serves as a part-time senior counselor at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Kanagawa Prefecture, where many U.S. military installations are located, asked a just retired major general in 1999 to enter the local government.

But other local governments have taken a less active approach in utilizing SDF members. The city of Sendai said it expects its SDF personnel to act as a liaison with the Defense Agency in times of disaster, while Gifu Prefecture said its employment of SDF personnel is not aimed at dealing with war contingencies.

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