The Defense Agency will discontinue drawing up a target list for Self-Defense Force personnel and equipment levels when it compiles a revised defense strategy by the end of this year, according to agency sources said.
The move is aimed at ensuring flexibility in the nation’s defense capability amid changes in global and regional security conditions, including a planned massive realignment of U.S. forces, the sources said.
Personnel and equipment levels will instead be specified in the buildup program that is revised every five years, the sources said.
To this point, the list has been attached to the National Defense Program Outline, which was first compiled in 1976.
The government decided in December to slash the number of frontline equipment such as tanks, destroyers and jet fighters when it announced plans to introduce a missile defense system.
The agency plans to set aside funds for the missile system, estimated to cost about 1 trillion yen, by cutting frontline equipment.
The agency, however, did not set specific targets for the reduction.
The decision to abolish the list was made in line with opinions presented by a Defense Agency panel discussing the revision of the defense strategy, which called for more flexibility in the National Defense Program Outline.
Several panel members said the list discouraged the government during the Cold War from seeking increases in equipment.
The list attached to the current defense strategy, which was revised in 1995 to meet the changing situations in the post-Cold War era, sets the number of the Ground Self-Defense Force troops at 160,000 and tanks at 900.
It sets the number of destroyers at about 50 and submarines at 16 for the Maritime Self-Defense Force and about 300 fighters for the Air Self-Defense Force.
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