The government plans to extend the term of Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, the top uniformed officer in the Self-Defense Forces, believing he is best suited for the job amid continued threats from North Korea and other uncertain security situations in the region, government sources said Tuesday.
Already the longest-serving chief of the SDF’s Joint Staff, Kawano, 63, has been in the post since October 2014. His term has been extended two times already beyond his retirement age.
Based on the law governing the SDF, his term was first extended for six months when he reached his retirement age of 62 in November 2016 and the second time for a year through May 27. The third extension is expected to be of a similar length, the sources said.
The Defense Ministry has recently come under fire following allegations of cover-ups regarding activity logs during the SDF’s Iraq mission and other matters. But the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided Kawano “is the only person who can ride through these difficult times,” the sources said.