The government has steadily expanded the activities of the Self-Defense Forces since the 1990s as the nation sought to play greater roles in international political and security affairs. Public perceptions toward the SDF have also changed in line with changes in the security environment, espe cially following North Korea's missile and nuclear tests last year. Yet a unique background and history still set the SDF apart from other armed forces.

When were the Self-Defense Forces organized?

The SDF was launched in 1954. But its history began when the National Police Reserve, the predecessor of the Ground Self-Defense Force, formed in 1950 with 75,000 members at the request of the Allied Occupation. Half of its ranks were Imperial Japanese Army veterans.