The United States Marines Corps And The Japan Self-Defense Force:
An Outline Study In Bilaterial Military Relations
SUBJECT AREA National Security
Author: BEINHART, Ernest G. III, Major, USMC
Title: THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS AND THE JAPAN SELF-
DEFENSE FORCE: AN OUTLINE STUDY IN BILATERAL
Date: 28 May 1985
This paper addresses several of the broad issues involved
in the emerging relationship between U.S. Marine Forces in
Japan and the Japan Self-Defense Force. Some of the dilemmas
confronting U.S. and Japanese policymakers are described, and
sufficient political background is provided that the general
reader can gain a sense of the changes now in progress.
Information covering the organization and structure of
forces, both American and Japanese, is presented. A narrative
account of events leading up to the implementation of formal
combined training is set forth.
Key points of the paper are that conditions in Japan are
changing; that this change can be influenced in ways favorable
to the United States; that the Marine Corps has a major role
to play; and that for both selfish and unselfish reasons,
the Marine Corps should allocate increased resources to the
Three articles from Japanese publications, in trans-
lation, are appended.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I -- INTRODUCTION
Why is This Issue Important? An Overview 1
CHAPTER II -- THE JAPAN SELF-DEFENSE FORCE (JSDF)
Organization and Structure of the JSDF 11
Political Environment of the JSDF 20
Japan's Official Defense Policy 27
Recent American Pressures 34
CHAPTER III -- UNITED STATES FORCES IN JAPAN
Organization and Structure of U.S. Forces 41
Development of USMC-JSDF Relations 45
CHAPTER IV -- CONCLUSIONS 78
A -- Sankei Shimbun Translation,
20 October 1982 84
B -- National Defense Translation,
July/August 1983 86
C -- Nihon Keizai Shimbun Translation,
15 April 1984 102
In recent years, units of the United States Marine Corps
(USMC) and the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) have begun to
train together, to sponsor mutual exchange visits, and to
plan for concerted action in the event of aggression against
Japan. Why is this happening? Why is it important? What
larger changes are involved, and how can that process of
change be influenced to best effect?
This paper, prepared as part of the curriculum of the
Marine Corps Command and Staff College, is not intended as a
"research" paper. It is not presented as a scholarly survey
of previously published works, but as an extended essay.
The author's intent in developing this document was to
provide an overview of U.S.-Japan military relations; then,
within that broad perspective, to consider a variety of
narrower issues associated with the continuing presence of
USMC forces in Japan. While outside sources are occasionally
referenced, the opinions and conclusions are the author's
own: they took shape over the course of several years, as
the result of personal involvement in the coordination of
bilateral policy and training.
This paper is intended for the consideration of fellow
students in the Marine Corps Command and Staff College; of
Marines assigned to, or expecting assignment to, units in
Japan; and of anyone else interested in the evolution of
military relations between America and its most important
If the reader puts down this paper with a keener
interest in the growth of USMC-JSDF ties, and a clearer
idea of the complexities involved, the author's intent
will have been realized.
Why is This Issue Important? An Overview
The attitudes of the Japanese and the role of Japan in
world affairs are changing. In the economic sphere, this
fact is obvious; it is less obvious but equally true in other
Change is nothing new for the people or institutions of
modern Japan. It could be argued that no other nation in
history has transformed itself so rapidly and dramatically:
from a self-enclosed feudal state to a regional military
superpower in less than 80 years (1868-1941), and from a
devastated shell of empire to a world economic superpower in
less than 40 years (1945-1984). However, this extra-
ordinary ability of the Japanese people to deal with change
involves national values and characteristics which are often
ministerpreted, underestimated, or overlooked by outsiders.
Today, Japan stands as the bastion of democracy in the
Far East, and serves as the linchpin of American defense
strategy in the pacific. As her foremost trading partner and
the formal guarantor of her security, the United States has
in recent years been strongly urging Japan to expand her
military capabilities. The American argument is that Japan
should assume a military posture in keeping with her economic
might -- that is, that she should "carry her share" in the
free world's defense. Within Japan's political and military
establishment, there now are numerous signs that a signifi-
cant growth will take place.
Nonetheless, the current situation involves a number of
ironies. Article IX of Japan's constitution not only
renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation, but
prohibits the maintenance of land, sea, and air forces. The
constitution was adopted in 1947 at the behest of the U.S.
Occupation authorities; the antiwar provision reflects the
concern of immediate postwar U.S. leaders that Japan's
authoritarian heritage, martial ethic, and abundant national
energies would lead to rearmament. Above all else, American
policymakers wanted to avoid a revival of the military
machine which had, in only a few decades, forced Japanese
rule on most of East Asia.
Now, with Japan accepted as a loyal and democratic ally,
most Americans perceive the Japanese "threat" to be economic.
The complaint is frequently heard that Japan, as its economy
has doubled and redoubled, has been given a "free ride" under
the U.S. defense umbrella. Japan's reluctance to assume an
increased military role is often characterized as economi-
cally motivated and self-serving. The per-capita defense
expenditures of the U.S. and NATO countries are held up for
comparison: according to one argument, if Japan were to make
proportional investments in its own defense, its "unfair"
national competitive advantage would be diminished, as
smaller amounts of GNP would remain for its industrial and
Another argument used by some Americans to urge expan-
sion of the JSDF is the idea (usually vaguely expressed) that
U.S. forces then could be shifted out of Japan, free to fight
somewhere else -- their roles and missions having been
assumed by Japanese counterparts.
While these and similar arguments do contain some
elements of truth, the reality is more complex and less
easily satisfying. They are worth considering, because
they illustrate the complexity of the bilateral military
Within Japan, opposition to military growth is strongest
not in business or industry, but at the grass-roots level.
The primary reasons are not economic, but are associated with
a widespread, lingering uneasiness with all things military.
When Japanese history is considered, this popular distrust
is not difficult to understand. For over two thousand years,
the military caste (samurai) comprised the privileged
elite, in a feudal system which afforded no legal rights to
commoners. Following the 19th Century Meiji reformation,
Japan's first attempts at democracy ended with the militari-
zation of the 1930's, military adventures on the Asian main-
land, and the disastrous Pacific War. In the minds of many
Japanese citizens, the prosperity and democratization of the
postwar period are closely tied to Japan's renunciation of
military force and its avowedly pro-peace international
policies. Negative feelings toward the Self-Defense Force
are still widespread. Because of such feelings, JSDF person-
nel in the Tokyo area, for example, routinely change into
civilian clothes prior to leaving a military compound on
personal business. In any consideration of the JSDF, it is
essential to recognize the ambivalence with which it still is
viewed by a significant percentage of Japanese society.
On another point, it is unclear what final effects a
major military buildup would induce on Japan's overall
position in the world economy. For example, her self-imposed
military restrictions now include a ban on most military
exports. Any fundamental change in her defense posture
could include, as part of a national strategy for military
investment, a lifting of this export ban. If Japanese heavy
industry and high-technology conglomerates were to enter the
world arms trade, they would be extremely well-qualified to
compete: U.S. firms, which now account for approximately 30%
of world arms sales, would face a severe new challenge.
Probably the most myopic argument used by Americans to
urge a Japanese buildup is one which contends that U.S.
forces are merely "protecting" Japan -- to the simple benefit
of the Japanese and at the expense of the United States' own
interests. This is greatly oversimplified.
To the extent that a territorial threat to Japan does
exist, virtually all influential Japanese identify that
threat with the Soviet Union. It is true that the presence
of U.S. forces in Japan is a potent deterrent to Soviet
invasion. It is equally true, however, that U.S.presence
makes Japan an important Soviet target. In any major war
between the military superpowers, whether or not its own
interests were originally threatened, Japan would almost
surely be drawn into the conflict. For a small, densely
populated country, that is no minor consideration.
For American strategists, Japan's most important asset
will probably continue to be her geography. Even if the
JSDF did not exist, Japan would remain -- because of its
location -- the key to America's warfighting capabilities in
the Pacific against the USSR.
Vladivostock, the hub of the Soviet Pacific Fleet and
the USSR's single warm-water Pacific port, is accessible only
through the Soya, Tsugaru, or Tsushima Straits. Soviet
aircraft transiting to Vietnam must pass between Japan and
South Korea, or else travel in a wide arc to the north and
east of the Japanese archipelago. From bases in Japan,
American aircraft could hit Soviet air and naval bases on the
Asian mainland and Sakhalin. These same Japanese bases, and
a wide range of support facilities, are critical to the
defense of South Korea or the Philippines.
In fact, U.S. forces are not being kept in Japan at the
expense of American national interests, but as a forceful
expression of those interests. Their presence is as vital to
the United States as it is to Japan.
When viewed from a Japanese perspective, what exactly is
the threat? If the Soviet Union undertook hostile action
against Japan, what would its objectives be?
There exists a variety of opinions, of course. One key
objective, almost all analysts agree, would be control of the
Soya Straits between Sakhalin and Hokkaido. This could entail
Soviet seizure of part or all of the island of Hokkaido.
However, the single most important strategic gain for
the Soviets would be the elimination or neutralization of
U.S. forces operating from Japan. This could be realized
without firing a shot if the Soviets were able somehow to
split the alliance. In a sustained and serious global
confrontation, deteriorating gradually to a condition of
imminent U.S.-Soviet warfare, it is likely that the USSR
would bring to bear on Japan every conceivable political and
military pressure in an attempt to induce such a split. By
offering to recognize a Japanese declaration of neutrality,
the Soviets would be offering what could be an extremely
attractive "way out" of all that a global war portends. If
Japan's leaders were to accept such an offer, and deny to
U.S. forces the continued use of bases in Japan,the strategic
posture of the USSR would be improved immeasurably.
In such an extreme situation, where would Japan's own
national interests lie? A persistent argument of Japanese
antiwar groups is that Japan stands to lose more from its
military ties to the U.S. than it would lose from an
unresisting neutrality. One idealistic metaphor has
represented Japan's proper role to be the "Switzerland of the
Far East." Relatively moderate nationalist groups could
easily coopt this slogan and alter it to "the Sweden of the
Far East" -- with military power to defend its own, but ony
its own, interests.
As is the case in every democracy, Japanese public
opinion covers the political spectrum. Vocal groups argue
for everything from total disarmament to total rearmament
and the acquisition of an independent nuclear capability.
But a majority of the public generally accepts the status
quo. Instances of Soviet ruthlessness, such as the invasion
of Afghanistan and the attack on KAL Flight 007, have rein-
forced general perceptions of the Soviet threat. The oil
shock of 1973 left a lasting impression of national vulner-
ability. Defense-minded political and military leaders have
repeatedly used these examples to underscore the need for
increased military expenditures. In Japanese society and
politics, the process of consensus-building is central to
every undertaking, and the JSDF continues to make gradual
gains in public acceptance and support.
Of all the possible policy options, future decisions
which lead to a reduction of the JSDF and an eventual state
of unarmed neutrality seem most remote. Such a policy would
run counters to the pervasive Japanese sense of vulnerability,
and to the increasing sense of international assertiveness.
In fact, for the near- and mid-term, it is hard to
envision any drastic change at all in Japan's strongly
pro-U.S. stance. Japan's current leaders are firmly and
publicly committed to the continuation and strengthening of
bilateral military ties. Planning is now underway with U.S.
counterparts to extend JSDF sea control to 1,000 miles over
the primary sea lanes leading into the home islands; this
commitment has been presented as an important form of U.S.-
Japan role-sharing. Within Japan, the division of roles is
frequently compared to that of shield and spear: in the
event of Soviet aggression, the JSDF will serve as the shield
while U.S. forces act as the spear.
Over the long term, as JSDF capabilities increase,
military self-sufficiency will be closer at hand and an
eventual drift toward armed neutrality -- or at least a much
looser alliance -- is not inconceivable. Military policy
over the long term may depend heavily on the quality and
public acceptance of the evolving bilateral military ties.
Of course, these larger issues of strategic direction
and national policy are only indirectly linked to the smaller
question of USMC-JSDF relations. However, they are not
unrelated; and strong military-to-military ties can have
unforeseen, but far-reaching, positive effects on inter-
Moreover, it is easier to agree on common strategic
goals and objectives than it is to build tactical inter-
operability at the unit level -- especially when the units
involved employ different languages, customs and weapons.
Yet that interoperability is vital to the success of the
USMC forces constitute almost 45% of all U.S. forces in
Japan. The presence of III MAF is a concrete indication of
American commitment. The ground combat, service support, and
helicopter units of III MAF are the only Japan-based American
counterparts of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).
Apart from brief, fly-in exercises conducted by the U.S.
Army, young officers and men in the JGSDF will meet and work
with American counterparts through their exposure to Marines,
or not at all.
For many reasons, closer organizational and individual
ties between USMC and JGSDF forces are significant. An
important step is taken by each Marine assigned to Japan who
seeks a deeper understanding of the organization, aspira-
tions, and sensitivities of his host country and his Japanese
THE JAPAN SELF-DEFENSE FORCE (JSDF)
Organization and Structure of the JSDF
The origins of the Japan self-Defense Force lie in the
creation of the 75,000 man National Police Reserve in 1950.
In 1952, the National Police Reserve was renamed the National
Safety Force; and in 1954, with passage of the Defense Agency
Establishment Law, the National Safety Force was incorporated
into the present Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense
The structure of the Defense Agency and the relationship
of the three Self-Defense Forces are as shown in Figure (1).
One conspicuous characteristic of the Japanese system is the
fact that the nation's senior military officer, the Chairman
of the Joint Staff Council (CJSC) shares a parallel relation-
ship with the Chiefs of Staff of the JGSDF, JMSDF, and JASDF.
This means that the CJSC and the Joint Staff Office (JSO)
have no directive authority over the component services;
joint planning and tactical coordination must be done on a
basis of mutual agreement. This unwieldy arrangement was
designed to help ensure the primacy of civilian leadership,
and hinder any illegal consolidation of power by military
leaders. In this respect, the current system is effective;
Click here to view image
however, it does little to overcome the country's long-
standing service rivalries, for to provide coherence to
overall defense planning.
The parallel relationship of the services with JSO
creates significant problems in bilateral affairs as
well. Unlike the CJSC, the Commander, U.S. Forces Japan
(COMUSJAPAN) is vested with command authority ever the U.S.
subunified component commanders. Any agreement between
COMUSJAPAN and JSO is final on the American side; on the
Japanese side, such agreements are only tentative unless GSO,
MSO, and ASO consensus is gained and formal concurrence is
Another complicating aspect is the close proximity of
ultimate political decisionmakers on the Japanese side, and
the long and circuitous route to counterpart decisionmakers
on the American side. If an insuperable obstacle should
arise during joint planning, CJSC and his staff must turn to
the next upper level, which is the Japan Defense Agency --
the GOJ counterpart to the U.S. Department of Defense. On
the American side, COMUSJAPAN (a 3-star officer) must take
his position to CINCPAC (a 4-star officer with a large
staff), who must prepare a position of his own. CINCPAC then
goes to JCS (a group of four-star officers with a very large
staff), who must in turn agree on a common position before
any issue can be considered for presentation to the Depart-
ment of Defense. Given the nature of bureaucracies, this
complicated relationship almost guarantees frustration, and
makes it extremely difficult to tackle major political-
military issues (such as sea-lanes control and division of
defense responsibilities) in a positive, step-by-step manner.
Within the JSDF, the problem of interservice rivalry is
a serious one. The Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) has
been -- and remains -- the most politically influential of
the three branches. However, the current military buildup is
oriented on the concept of expanded responsibility for sea-
lanes defense. This mission is stressed by leaders in
America and Japan because (among other reasons) it is most
politically palatable, and most consistent with the limita-
tions of Article IX. However, sea lanes defense is associ-
ated with air and sea control, as opposed to ground combat
capability: it therefore threatens the JGSDF position in the
To counter this threat to its funding, the JGSDF has
taken the position that a strong ground defense -- especially
in Hokkaido -- is essential to ensure a permissive environ-
ment for JMSDF and JASDF operations. The JMSDF and JASDF
tend to disagree and push for proportionately greater funding
for their own programs. Ian the context of this argument, a
central point of contention has been the Soviets' estimated
U.S. component headquarters are inevitably drawn into
such controversies, due to close and supportive relationships
with their own "green," "navy-blue," or "sky-blue" functional
counterparts. The the 1985 edition of the U.S. Defense
Department publication Soviet Military Power, states that
...to support a military operation against
Japan, the Soviet Far East merchant fleet has
an estimated capacity to transport up to seven
motorized or tank divisions in a single lift
operation if given appropriate conditions of
sea and air superiority.1
This large estimate of Soviet amphibious capability supports
the JGSDF contention that an air and maritime buildup would
be only an empty front, if it were attained at the expense of
ground combat capability.
Problems of interservice "separateness" extend down to
the tactical level. Currently, if deployed for actual
defensive combat, JGSDF tactical units would have only one
JASDF officer per regiment for purposes of air liaison and
forward air control. Against integrated, well-equipped and
highly trained Soviet forces, such inadequate integration of
ground and air assets would prove disastrous.
A requirement for closer service relationships is fully
recognized by senior JSDF officers. General Keitaro Watanabe
(then just appointed as Chief of Staff, JGSDF, and now the
Chairman, Joint Staff Council) told U.S. officers in May
1983 that one of his greatest goals was to increase the
effective cooperation of the JGSDF, JMSDF, and JASDF. In
this regard, the close air-ground-naval integration of Marine
units is of particular interest for Japanese officers.
Tactical divisions of the JSDF service components are
shown in Figures (2) through (4).
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Political Environment of the JSDF
Article IX of the Constitution of Japan states that:
Aspiring sincerely to and international peace
and order, the Japanese people forever renounce
war as a sovereign right of the nation and the
the threat or use of force as a means of settling
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding
paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as
other war potential, will never be maintained.
The right of belligerency of the state will not
This article has been the focal point for one of the
most intense and sweeping political arguments in postwar
Japan. By various factions, its intent has been supported,
opposed, or stretched near the breaking point. The Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), Japan's long-time majority party, has
traditionally supported a flexible interpretation of Article
IX. The LDP also includes a number of advocates of a formal
Constitutional amendment to end restrictions on Japan's
military options. In 1969, the then-Chairman of the Joint
Staff Council articulated the basis for this view when he
The state does not exist because there
is a Constitution. There is a Constitution
because there is a state...If it is absolutely
necessary for the survival of the state, the
Constitution should be interpreted accordingly.
If this cannot be done, the Constitution should
Even today the constitutionality of the JSDF's existence
continues to be hotly argued within Japan, although a declin-
ing minority of the population aspires to a completely
The questions raised by Article IX have been addressed
repeatedly within the Japanese judiciary. In 1959, the Tokyo
district court ruled that the stationing of U.S. forces in
Japan was in violation of Article IX. In a landmark decision
later the same year, the Japanese Supreme Court overturned
that ruling. The Supreme Court held that the Japanese
Constitution "does not renounce the inherent right of a
sovereign nation to self-defense, nor does it demand
defenselessness and nonresistance."4 In 1976, the Sapporo
High Court ruled in another case that the existence of the
JSDF did not violate Article IX. In 1977, the Mito District
Court ruled that while self-defense capability is constitu-
tional, it must not exceed necessary limits.5
Obviously, the question of what is necessary for
adequate self-defense can lead to any number of possible
conclusions. In 1978, in a written policy statement, the
Japan Defense Agency declared that
The limit beyond which defense power must
not be increased under the restrictions set
forth in Article IX...is a relative one that
can change in accordance with various conditions
such as the international situation and the
level of military technology at a given time.6
In 1979, then-Prime Minister Ohira declared that
What forms its root is the perfection and
consolidation of defense power, and our
country's defense power must be what can truly
become deterrent power.7
Soon afterward, Prime Minister Ohira was reported to have
gone so far as to say, during a session of the Upper House of
the Diet, that "a minimum number of nuclear weapons for
self-defense is not something to be prohibited."8
Of course, open advocates of a nuclear-armed Japan
constitute a small political minority. But this position is
held tenaciously by several of the extreme nationalist
groups; and as early as fifteen years ago it was not unheard
of for elected representatives to campaign openly on behalf
of a Japanese nuclear deterrent.9 This has not changed,
despite Japan's ratification of the Nuclear Non-Prolifera-
tion Treaty in 1976.10
The official policy of the Government of Japan (GOJ)
toward nuclear weapons is expressed in its "three non-nuclear
principles": that Japan will not possess, will not manufac-
ture, and will not introduce nuclear weapons into the
country.11 This results in continual difficulties relative
to the presence of U.S. forces, since these principles pro-
hibit the possession of a nuclear warhead aboard any ship or
plane entering Japanese water or airspace. The U.S., in
conformity with its policy worldwide, refuses to confirm or
deny the presence of nuclear weapons anywhere; however, U.S.
spokesmen issue regular public assurances that the U.S.
Government "respects its obligations" under existing treaties
with the Government of Japan.
When pressed on this point by domestic political
opponents, GOJ spokesmen circumvent the challenge by
affirming that: (1) The U.S. is obligated by treaty to make
"prior consultations" with the GOJ, before any nuclear weapon
is brought into Japanese territory; (2) the U.S. has not made
such consultations; (3) therefore, the U.S., ipso facto,
cannot have brought such weapons into Japan. In this oblique
fashion the issue is kept under tenuous control; but it is
the cause of frequent political demonstrations and local
resolutions, and U.S. Navy ships in particular are affected
by strong opposition to port calls in some of Japan's major
The paradox of Japan's international security position
is here particularly poignant; for strategic deterrence
against the Soviet Union, Japan openly depends on the U.S.
nuclear "umbrella." According to the Japan Defense Agency,
Japan's defense capability, coupled with the
presence of U.S. military power involving a
nuclear deterrent based on the Japan-U.S.
Security Treaty, constitutes a stance permitting
the country to cope with any threat...12
Yet its "three non-nuclear principles" prohibit the very
ships and planes which maintain that deterrence from entering
Apart from the question of proper Constitutional limits
to Japan's power, there are lingering questions, at a deeper
level, concerning the basic validity of Article IX and -- for
that matter -- the entire Constitution. Negative feelings in
this regard are not confined to extremist groups. Japan's
current Prime Minister Nakasone wrote in 1978, when he was
the LDP general secretary, that
In the case of an independent, democratic
constitution, those who draft it and those to
whom it is applied must both be groups with a
sense of common identification; and this in
turn must be based on free will. The process
by which the Constitution was drafted was
dictated by the [American] GHQ.
During the occupation it was impossible
not only to enact but even to submit legisla-
tion to a plenary session of the Diet without
permission from GHQ. We were indirectly
threatened with being purged if we made any
complaints. It was under such circumstances
that the present constitution was enacted.13
Another consideration is the Japanese attitude toward
the presence of American troops in Japan. In the 1959
Japan Supreme Court case, the U.S. presence was ruled
constitutional; but despite continued strong GOJ support,
public opinion and opposition political positions have been
mixed. In 1970, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote that
Even highly pro-United States analysts
and politicians, otherwise quite concerned
with Japan's security, are in agreement
concerning the desirability of terminating
the U.S. military presence in Japan.14
...The Japanese expect that by 1975 most
American forces will be out of Japan, and
it may also be expected that the Japanese
will quietly press for the removal of most
American bases by that date.15
Japan has an active, multi-party, parliamentary system
of government, and the shifting alignments and coalitions of
its parties have reflected shifts in national sentiment. The
Japan Socialist Party (JSP) has traditionally advocated a
status of unarmed neutrality, held the JSDF to be unconstitu-
tional, and called for unilateral abrogation of the Japan-
U.S. Security Treaty. The Japan Communist Party (JCP)
supports the maintenance of defense capability in some form,
but also calls for abrogation of the Security Treaty and
disbandment of the JSDF as it is currently constituted. The
"Clean Government Party" (Komeito) has reservations as to the
constitutionality of both the Security Treaty and the JSDF,
but does not seek immediate change and does not support the
concept of unarmed neutrality. The Democratic Socialist
Party (DSP) recognizes the JSDF as constitutional, and
accepts the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty for the time being;
the DSP has gone on record, however, as calling for "the
elimination of the perpetual U.S. military presence in
In 1979, setbacks for these opposition parties and
strong gains by the ruling LDP led to realignments and to
some consolidation of opposition platforms:
Under pressure from the Komeito, the JSP
had to concede that it would not call for an
immediate and unilateral abrogation of the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. It had to accept
the Komeito line that the termination of the
treaty has to be implemented through diplo-
matic negotiations with the USA.17
Since 1979, a gradual movement has continued away from
radical anti-JSDF, anti-Security Treaty positions. As a
result of this "rightward shift" in domestic politics, Japan
is increasingly receptive to the idea of a significant role
in its own defense.
The big question, which has yet to be satisfactorily
answered, is: what role?
Japan's Official Defense Policy
The Government of Japan (GOJ) carefully and eloquently
presents its current position on military issues in a lengthy
"Boeihakusho" (white paper) published annually by the Defense
Agency. Publication began in 1970. The document is trans-
lated into numerous languages for foreign distribution; its
English translation bears the title Defense of Japan.
Defense of Japan attempts to provide philosophical
justification and bolster public support for the existence of
the JSDF and its functions. In the Japanese context, even
patriotism needs to be justified:
Patriotism means attachment to our land.
It is a natural human feeling -- a desire
for the peaceful development of a living
community -- which everyone has. What is
important is how and when to display it.
To do one's best to defend the country from
invasion is the duty of each Japanese and
the awareness that urges us to perform this
duty is the expression of patriotism and the
will to defend the country.
Japan's effort to improve its defense
capability against emergencies presupposes
such willingness of the people to defend
the country. The Self-Defense Forces can
be a power to defend the country only when
they are supported by the people's will to
defend the country. In this sense, con-
siderations regarding the enlightening of
the people in various arenas will be
These lines convey a sense of what the GOJ feels it is
up against: continuing doubt and cynicism, the legacy of
prewar and wartime exhortations; and naive idealism, the
product of postwar pacifism.
Currently, the Defense Agency offers the following GOJ
interpretation of Article IX:
1. A necessary minimum of self-defense capability is
2. "Minimum" limits are subject to change and are
relative to the state of technology and the international
situation. ("However, it is clears that Japan evidently
cannot possess weapons which...are used exclusively for total
destruction of other countries, such as ICBMs and long-range
strategic bombers.") (Emphasis added.)
3. Three conditions must be met to justify the use of
a. "Sudden and unjustified aggression" has been
directed against Japan;
b. There is "no other appropriate means" to deal
with that aggression; and
c. Use of armed strength is confined to the
4. "Minimum force" is not limited in scope to Japanese
territorial land, sea, and air. Geographic scope would vary
with the situation; however, it would be unconstitutional to
dispatch armed forces to foreign territorial land, sea, and
5. Collective self-defense (armed support of a treaty
partner when not under direct attack oneself) is the right of
every sovereign state, including Japan, under international
law. However, because of Aticle IX, Japan must forego this
6. "Exercise of the right of belligerency" is unconsti-
tutional, but the "operation of force" has a different
meaning and is permitted for self-defense.19
Basic Policy for National Defense, as formally set forth
by GOJ, comprises four broad principles:
1. Support for the United Nations and promotion of
international efforts for peace and cooperation;
2. Stabilization of domestic affairs as the "foundation
3. Gradual improvement of effective defense capability
"with due regard to the nation's resources and the prevailing
4. Reliance on Japan-United States security arrange-
ments to deal with external aggression, "pending more
effective functioning of the United Nations in the future in
deterring and repelling such aggression."20
Control of the military by elected political leaders is
Japan gave serious thought to the state of
of affairs which led to and continued through
World War II, and complied with a system of
uncompromising civilian control similar to that
maintained by other democratic nations.
Totally different from the system sustained
under the old Japanese Constitution the SDF
today is strictly under civilian control.21
But further "enlightening of the people" is required:
...in order to lead the civilian control
system to bear fruit, it goes without saying
that continuous efforts are necessary in both
political and administrative operation of the
system. At the same time, it is necessary for
the entire Japanese people to display keen
interest in national defense, while the SDF
personnel themselves are required to show a
correct understanding of civilian control and
demonstrate their behavior accordingly.22
As its basic "Concept of Defense," GOJ stresses two
broad objectives: prior deterrence and, should deterrence
fail, the countering of aggression. Deterrence is provided
for by maintaining a defense capability of "appropriate"
scale, and by "keeping the credibility of security
arrangements with the United States," specifically including
the American nuclear deterrent. If limited aggression should
occur, Japan will drive away the invaders "without help in
principle." In the event of larger-scale aggression, Japan
"will continue strong resistance by every possible means
until it gains cooperation from the United States in
repulsing the enemy."23
In November 1976, the GOJ declared that "in implementing
the defense capability buildup, this is to be done...with the
toal sum of defense-related expenses in each fiscal year not
to exceed for the time being...l% of the GNP of each said
year."24 This 1% cap has been the subject of continuous
controversy ever since, both in domestic forums and in
bilateral dealings with the U.S. It has acquired strong
symbolic value for those opposed to expansion of the Japanese
military, as well as for those trying to encourage such
expansion. There are indications that the GOJ will soon --
in 1985 or 1986 -- exceed for the first time this traditional
In calculations of Japan's ultimate military and foreign
policies, perhaps the most important single variable is the
quality of Japan-U.S. bilateral ties. As the Defense Agency
Effective functioning of the Japan-U.S.
security arrangements under any circumstances
is an absolute necessity for surely guarantee-
ing Japan's security.
In order to maintain the friendly and co-
operative relations between Japan and the
United States, and sustain the credibility of
their security arrangements, it is necessary
for the two nations to seize every opportunity
to hold uninterrupted dialogue, to firmly
establish the relationship of mutual trust
and cooperation, to fulfill their respective
responsibilities, and to strive to secure a
system for the effective functioning of the
The defense ministry has committed itself to budgetary
support ("cost-sharing") for the continued stationing of
U.S. forces in Japan. The major expression of this is the
Facilities Improvement Program (FIP); the FIP has resulted in
major new construction of housing, barracks, and support
facilities for use by U.S. forces. Among other projects, the
GOJ is now constructing 5,000 family housing units in
Okinawa. This housing, with related support facilities, will
enable the USMC to transition into a policy of 3-year accom-
panied tours for all career Marines assigned PCS to Okinawa.
Despite such initiatives, skepticism persists in some
quarters, that the United States would -- or could -- provide
sufficient, timely aid to Japan in a true defense emergency.
This skepticism has been indirectly increased by some U.S.
efforts to bring about larger Japanese defense spending.
Recent American Pressures
In his Fiscal Year 1985 Report to the Congress,
Secretary of Defense Weinberger stated that
The cornerstone of our East Asian defense
policy is our defense partnership with Japan,
based on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and
Security. Prime Minister Suzuki enunciated
the goal for Japanese roles and missions when
he stated in May 1981 that defense of Japan's
territory, its airspace, and its sea-lanes out
to 1,000 miles are legal under Japan's consti-
tution and are, in fact, its national policy.
Prime Minister Nakasone has been even more
forthright in expressing that Japan's respon-
sibilities should be under a national division
of labor with the United States. We will
continue to encourage Japan to achieve within
this decade the force levels it needs to meet
its defense requirements.
We plan to base F-16 aircraft at Misawa
Air Base in Japan. Once deployed, these U.S.
F-16s will provide improved air-to-surface
capabilities to help redress the regional
force imbalance in Northeast Asia.26
As Secretary Weinberger points out, Japan in fact is the
cornerstone of our plans for East Asia. The "encouragement"
he mentions has become a central factor in our military and
foreign policy relationship with Japan. The Japanese public,
and their leaders, are acutely aware that there exists in
America a widespread perception that Japan is doing less than
its "fair share." The military issues have been linked with
overarching economic problems, and there now is a sense of
pressure and urgency which did not previously exist in the
defense debate. In 1983, a bilateral military study was
commissioned to examine specific requirements associated with
Japan's commitment to defend sealanes out to 1,000 nautical
miles. A surge of Japanese books, articles, and television
features began to appear, dealing variously with the Soviet
threat, the overextended capabilities of the U.S., the tech-
nical and strategic questions of sealanes defense, and the
inadequacy of the JSDF.
This American pressure -- or perceived American pressure
-- is having mixed results. Over the long term, the effect
may not be exactly what U.S. policymakers expect or hope for.
Japan's "hawks" -- whatever their feeling toward America
and the alliance -- welcome the new American emphasis,
because it shores up their own position that Japan should be
militarily responsible for her own destiny. Also, American
backing has helped greatly to legitimize, among potential
opponents at home and abroad, the idea of a revitalized
Japanese military. Prime Minister Nakasone has stressed the
American partnership in every discussion of plans to project
Japanese power beyond its own territorial waters. Among the
ASEAN nations and Korea -- Japan's former conquests -- there
has been little protest.
But it would be a mistake to overlook potential nega-
tive effects on America's own long-term interests, of this
cultivation of Japanese power. Apart from irritation at the
tone and context in which the American position has sometimes
been presented, some leaders on the Japanese side have begun
to ask questions about the extent of actual U.S. commitment
to Japan, and even more fundamental questions about the
overall worth of the current security relationship.
When Secretary Weinberger's statement is examined,
several assumptions are apparent: (1) that Japan should
possess weapons systems of the type and amount necessary to
defend 1,000 miles of ocean; (2) that Japan's "defense
requirements" can be agreed upon; and (3) that U.S. offensive
weapons in Japan, such as sophisticated ground-attack air-
craft at Misawa, will lead to an increase in security for
When these points are analyzed, complications quickly
emerge: (1) in order to unilaterally defend the sealanes
out to 1,000 miles against a sophisticated Soviet threat,
including Soviet Naval aviation, there will be a necessity
for JMSDF or JASDF sea-based aviation. Articles in the
public domain have described JMSDF aspirations to acquire its
own aircraft carriers, but this is a possibility that was not
envisioned in the U.S. concept of "role-sharing." Possession
of adequate forces and weapons to "defend itself" and its
sealanes against one of the military superpowers is by
definition enough power for an autonomous policy. (2) Any
determination of Japan's "defense requirements" involves
fixing two key variables: the level of threat and the level
of U.S. support available. If the object of this determina-
tion is to elicit increased Japanese contributions, a clear
paradox emerges: that is, if massive U.S. forces are assumed
to be available, the requirement for Japanese forces will
coprrespondingly decrease. On the other hand, if minimal
U.S. forces are assumed, the challenge to Japan becomes so
overwhelming that -- for many Japanese -- a basic rethinking
of present security commitments seems necessary. That a
"limited" war with the Soviets could be fought at all
(especially one which begins on the high seas and in the air)
seems a dubious proposition, and any assumptions to the
contrary are difficult to support. (3) The F-16's are U.S.
weapons intended for soviet targets. They do help to offset
the Soviet numerical advantage in attack aircraft; but they
are a clear-cut, high-priority target themselves in any
U.S.-Soviet war. Their presence at Misawa serves (among
other things) to further increase the certainty of Japan's
At bottom, the unarticulated, long-term stumbling block
for the U.S. is the question: would a militarily self-
sufficient Japan continue in the same relationship to the
U.S.? Would it permit U.S. forces to use its territory as an
"unsinkable aircraft carrier" from which to launch an
offensive against the Soviet homeland, and to interdict
Soviet ships inbound or outbound from the Sea of Japan?
The usual scenario for a "defense of Japan" is one in
which Japanese interests are threatened: first, Japan-
Soviet relations deteriorate to the point of a Soviet attack
on Japan; Japan resists, holds its ground, and the U.S. then
responds with sufficient force to enable Japan to repel the
invaders. Sometimes the assumed Soviet attack is placed in a
context of simultaneous Soviet aggression in other parts of
the world. That complicates the problem, of course, because
it stresses the limits to U.S. response capability, and
increases the vulnerability of Japan. It is this kind of
scenario which is assumed, when the U.S. argues to Japan that
it must build stronger forces.
But there are other types of scenarios, which have been
too little considered by some U.S. planners, and which lead
to very different conclusions by the Japanese.
The Japanese islands dominate the strategic routes of
Soviet power projection in the Pacific. The presence of
significant U.S. air and naval forces in Japan, adjacent to
those routes and within striking range of vital Soviet
military facilities, is a primary consideration in both U.S.
and Soviet global strategy. Their presence virtually assures
that any major U.S.-Soviet conflict will extend to Japan.
U.S. and Soviet attacks and counterattacks from and against
its territory involve enormous potential consequences for
Japan. This would be true even if the war began elsewhere;
even if Japanese interests were not originally at stake; even
if the war had been started through accident or miscalcu-
At some point, Japanese self-interest may dictate a
reevaluation of the present security relationship from a
cost-benefit point of view. In this sense, benefits are
associated with U.S. reinforcement in the event of primary
aggression against Japan, and with the deterrent effect of
the U.S. nuclear "umbrella" against such primary aggression.
On the other hand, costs are associated with a derivative
attack on Japan, as part of a global U.S.-Soviet war in which
Japan might discover itself an unwilling participant. In
this analysis, benefits would decrease in value as the level
of expected reinforcement, or the credibility of the American
deterrent, goes down; estimates of cost would increase in
direct proportion to foreign policy differences with the
U.S., and the likelihood that Japan might be dragged unwill-
ingly into a confrontation.
Japan's situation is different in a number of ways from
that of the NATO countries. Especially in the context of
global war, the Soviet Union has little to gain from an
invasion of the main islands of Japan, and much to gain from
the neutralization (through military or political means) of
U.S. forces based there. If its own interests were not at
stake, and if it chose to do so, a militarily confident Japan
could reasonably hope to "ride out" an otherwise extremely
destructive global war.
For the time being, among leaders of Japan and the U.S.,
common interests are being served by a military buildup.
Divisions of long-term national interest are not apparent.
But Secretary Weinberger's policy assumes that Japan's
objectives will continue to be those of the United States:
should that prove not to be the case, his successors may
someday gaze ruefully across the Pacific, and wistfully
remember the modestly-equipped but always-supportive Japan of
the 1970's and early 1980's.
UNITED STATES FORCES IN JAPAN
Organization and Structure of U.S. Forces
U.S. military forces in Japan are organized around a sub-
unified command, subordinate to CINCPAC in the joint opera-
tional chain. Commander, U.S. Forces Japan (COMUSJAPAN), a
three-star billet, has in recent years been assigned to an Air
Force Officer. He is triple-hatted as COMUSJAPAN/Commander
U.S. Air Force Japan (CDR USAFJ)/Commander 5th Air Force
(CDR 5AF). COMUSJAPAN's Chief of Staff, a two-star billet
independent of other organizational ties, is assigned to a
Marine Major General. As COMUSJAPAN'S representative in
Okinawa, the Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler
is designated "Okinawa Area Coordinator." In the implementa-
tion of joint matters affecting Okinawa commands, the Okinawa
Area Coordinator serves as local agent for COMUSJAPAN. On
single-service USMC issues, CG MCB Camp Butler is subordinate
to the Naval Forces Commander.
Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan (COMNAVFORJAPAN) is the
subunified component commander for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps
forces in Japan. As such, he responds to taskings from
COMUSJAPAN; however, he does not command any operational
forces, and normally would not command forces even in wartime.
COMNAVFORJAPAN's primary role is to coordinate between
Seventh Fleet operating forces and COMUSJAPAN, and between
those forces and the Japan Self-Defense Force.
Seventh Fleet units are homeported and homebased in
Japan, but they remain under operational control of Commander
Seventh Fleet (COMSEVENTHFLT) and CINCPACFLT. Although
COMUSJAPAN has no operational control over them, he is
responsible -- through COMNAVFORJAPAN -- for legal and
administrative matters concerning the presence of Seventh
Fleet units and personnel in Japan.
The Commanding General of III MAF has two hats, and
responds through two chains. In his operational role of
Commander Task Force 79 (CTF 79), he is directly subordinate
to COMSEVENTHFLT, and coordinates all issues of concern
through Navy channels. As CG III MAF, he employs Marine
Corps channels for matters not related to his Fleet
The Commander, U.S. Army Japan is a three-star officer
with a one-star deputy. He has no operational forces
assigned (although the U.S. Army is now in the process of
phasing in some Special Forces units to Okinawa). His
primary function is to conduct contingency planning for
U.S. Army units which would be deployed to Japan in wartime,
and to maintain and develop a bilateral relationship with the
Basic U.S. command relationships, and their counterpart
relationships for bilateral coordination with the JSDF, are
shown in Figures (5) and (6).
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Development of USMC-JMDF Relations
Although U.S. forces have been based in Japan since
1945, bilateral military-to-military relations are a
relatively recent development. For over 30 years, there
were none at all.
Then, in 1978, a legal basis for coordinated military
planning and training was established. On 27 November of
that year, the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee
(SCC) approved the "Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense
Cooperation." Japan's National Defense Council and Cabinet
gave their formal approval the next day.1
In early 1979, an organizational structure for imple-
menting the "Guidelines" was created: the Joint Planning
Committee (JPC) and the Ground, Air, and Maritime Planning
Subcommittees (GPSC, APSC, and MPSC) (Figure (7)). Each
planning subcommittee later created subordinate, functional
study panels to address bilateral needs and capabilities in
specific areas such as training, logistics, communications,
Membership on the Planning Subcommittees was extended to
the three sub-unified component headquarters on the U.S.
side, and to the headquarters of the three self-defense
Click here to view image
forces on the Japanese side. When this structure was estab-
lished, the question of Marine Corps forces in Japan was not
specifically addressed. Records from that period indicate
that USN/USMC planners did not expect Marine forces to become
involved in any major way in bilateral activities in Japan.
Reasons for this initial reticence to involve USMC
forces seen to stem from concerns in high-level Navy and
Marine headquarters that III MAF (Task Force 79) might be
drawn into planning commitments which would interfere with
its primary mission: that of maintaining itself as an
amphibious ready force available for commitment anywhere in
the Pacific theater. There was concern that existing USMC
obligations for Korea had already infringed on the Seventh
Fleet Commander's freedom of action with respect to CTF 79
options; there apparently was a strong desire to avoid such
entanglements in Japan.
The bottom line was that, during the 1978-79 period,
little emphasis was placed by III MAF or Seventh Fleet
headquarters on direct Marine involvement in the emerging
military-to-military relationships. During this same period,
the three "primary" U.S. services, all with headquarters
close to Tokyo, gave a high priority to this kind of effort.
Remaining records also indicate that -- ironically -- in the
initial days of this developing "bilateralism," the Ground
Self-Defense Force representatives had high hopes for
eventual USMC-JGSDF training.
The U.S. Army sub-unified component commander in Japan
(Commander U.S. Army Japan) is dual-hatted in the Army chain
as Commanding General, IX Corps. His title, therefore, is
usually given as "CG USARJ/IX CORPS" and his headquarters is
referred to as HQ USARJ/IX CORPS.
HQ USARJ/IX CORPS had once controlled a vast range of
U.S. Army units and support facilities. By 1978, however,
there were no Army operational forces remaining in Japan, and
only a thin scattering of support personnel and facilities;
HQ USARJ/IX CORPS had dwindled almost to cadre circumstances.
Despite its emaciated condition, IX Corps retained its
traditional status as a "major command" within the Army
organizational structure, and was commanded by a lieutenant
When the "Guidelines for Defense Cooperation" were
approved, senior officers at HQ USARJ/IX CORPS recognized a
major opportunity to rebuild lost influence, while contri-
buting in important ways to the development of bilateral
relations. Army planners realized that, for the upcoming
military-to-military training and planning process, there
would be a very real need for an American counterpart to the
For these reasons, the U.S. Army fully committed itself
to making a success of the new "bilateralism." These efforts
began to pay off, as the Ground Planning Subcommittee and its
functional study panels took shape. In this regard the
greatest, and obvious, difficulty for HQ USARJ/IX CORPS was
its complete lack of operational units in Japan. Exercises
would have to incorporate U.S. Army troops flown in from
CONUS or Hawaii, or else involve Marines in some capacity.
Under various contingency plans, Army forces are committed to
move to Japan to assist in the ground defense of the country.
As tests of operational readiness, small representative units
were periodically brought to Japan anyway, and conceivably
could serve as the nucleus for short-term bilateral exercises
coordinated by HQ USARJ/IX CORPS. This, anyway, was the
plan; and although some problems were encountered, the Army
was able eventually to conduct several exercises using this
For command post exercises (CPX's), another approach was
also used: participating Japanese officers flew from Japan
to Hawaii or CONUS, where the U.S. Army counterpart units
were permanently based. During the first two years, III MAF
was invited to send officer participants to various HQ
USARJ/IX CORPS-JGSDF meetings; on a few occasions,Marine
officers did attend. This was the exception rather than the
rule, however, and III MAF became increasingly left out of
the expanding bilateral relationship.
One program in which III MAF did get involved was the
"Junior Officer Exchange Program" (JOEP); this had been
developed to provide young officers from each side with an
opportunity to visit a unit on the other side for a short
period (usually a week or less). This program was
"sponsored" by COMUSJAPAN and JSO. The basic idea was good,
and was attractive to almost everyone: selected junior
officers would have the experience of first-hand contact with
their counterparts, would gain professional insight into the
other side's organization and techniques; and would develop
interpersonal bonds, which in the future could lead to
improved unit-to-unit and country-to-country ties.
However, due in large part to a tortuous chain of coor-
dination on both sides, many problems occurred in implemen-
tation. These complications alienated some senior JGSDF
officers, despite their initial enthusiasm toward the USMC.
Years later, in relaxed circumstances, memories would
surface: there would be hesitant descriptions of elaborate
JGSDF preparations, the dispatch of a welcoming party to the
arrival airport, and -- no Marine visitors would show up, or
fewer would arrive than had been planned for, or word would
be received that they would come on another date.
The U.S. Army had a similar program. However, because
of the close proximity of HQ USARJ/IX CORPS to the Ground
Staff Office, good communications, and strong command
emphasis, the Army exchanges were relatively problem-free.
Thus, with the passage of time and the growth of formal
structure, the Army-JGSDF ties became stronger, and the
JGSDF desire for involvement with the Marines became weaker.
There were several reasons far the difficulties experi-
enced by III MAF in making a success of these exchanges.
Most fundamental was the complexity of communication
channels, and the absence of direct coordination. On the
U.S. side, liaison from COMUSJAPAN to III MAF was being
accomplished through a variety of channels, often inconsis-
tently: some communications went to COMNAVFORJAPAN, others
to COMSEVENTHFLT; yet others were sent via MCB Camp Butler,
and occasionally III MAF or 3rd Marine Division was
telephoned directly. Most messages, no matter how minor in
substance, were sent by hard-copy AUTODIN message, with all
the delays involved in drafting, releasing, and transmission,
and subsequent delays for readdressal and a formal reply.
On the Japanese side, JSO would receive a message from
COMUSJAPAN, formally prepare and deliver it to GSO, and
GSO would then have to send it down through the field army
level, division level, and regimental level, to the hosting
battalion. As a result, a simple question from a JGSDF host
unit about the boot size of USMC visitors would set in motion
a complex sequence of formal coordination, whichcould easily
require a week or ten days for a reply -- if a reply came at
Other III MAF difficulties were associated with its
structural turmoil and its necessary emphasis on immediate
operational requirements. III MAF is a major operational
headquarters, whose subordinate units are continually
deployed and preparing to deploy, throughout WESTPAC. Its
subordinate commanders and staff officers are preoccupied
with "real world" obligations, and their priorities are
heavily weighted toward current unit readiness. Flexibility
is essential, because deployment dates and unit schedules
frequently change, in response to changes in the world
situation and variations in shipping availability. This III
MAF posture is neccessary and good, in every respect; but it
does not make for ease of coordination with the JGSDF.
JGSDF units, having no commitments outside the country
and insufficient training opportunities inside the country,
operate on the basis of extremely stable schedules. Action
officers make long-range, meticulous plans which -- once
"blessed" -- are seldom changed. Modifications usually
involve an elaborate, formal approval process and are avoided
if at all possible.
Another factor in the difficulty of III MAF-JGSDF
coordination has been the USMC's 12-month individual
assignment policy. This constant turnover hindered the
development of an effective "corporate memory" within the
various USMC headquarters in Okinawa and Iwakuni. Staff
officers would seldom see their own plans implemented, and
action officers and commanders usually were carrying out the
commitments of their predecessors. During the 1979-81
period, implementation of the new "unit rotation" policy
caused additional turbulence, as "eligible" and "non-
eligible" personnel were shifted between affected units.
The bottom line was that III MAF forces were largely
preoccupied with their real-time operational commitments;
with attaining unit stability; and (at an individual level)
with learning and re-learning the basics during short
The Army situation was almost entirely the opposite,
and was highly compatible with JGSDF needs. Personnel
assigned to HQ USARJ/IX CORPS came for 3-year accompanied
tours. Their headquarters is on the outskirts of Tokyo,
an easy drive from the Ground Staff Office. A large head-
quarters staff was available, with no operational forces
to control and little to do except revise existing con-
tingency plans. The Army could offer personal continuity,
ease of access, long-range scheduling, and -- because of
different command priorities -- assured responsiveness to
the JGSDF'S essentially administrative concerns.
Yet another major difficulty associated with bilateral
ties was the language barrier. HQ USARJ/IX CORPS employs
highly qualified professional interpreters, and JGSDF
officers were able to deal with Army counterparts on their
own terms. However, in direct dealings with III MAF, the
language problem could be overwhelming. No one with a
Japanese language capability was employed at III MAF head-
quarters; on a few occasions, when JGSDF officers telephoned
in through the commercial switchboard, the III MAF action
officers had to summon a female barber from her nearby shop,
to come to the telephone and make sense of the staff-to-staff
"coordination." Two or three members of the 3rd Marine
Division Interrogator-Translator Unit (ITU) at Camp Hansen
had some Japanese capability; however, it was as a secondary
or tertiary language, and they were not brought directly into
the coordination process. (As late as 1984, Japanese was not
a "priority language" for USMC training. Likewise, Japan is
not a designated area for the USMC Foreign Area Officer (FAO)
By late 1980, Seventh Fleet attitudes toward the
desirability of JGSDF-USMC relations were changing sub-
stantially. In response to Soviet buildup in the Northern
Pacific, the U.S. Navy laid new emphasis on the importance of
American "presence" in the area. Multiple carrier battle
group (CVBG) exercises were planned and executed, with
transits of the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk. Priority
emphasis was also given to the development of an "amphibious
presence" in northern Japan. As a basis for this, extensive
bilateral ties would be needed. This recognition spurred new
interest in potential JGSDF-USMC programs.
But the structure for bilateral planning was by now
firmly in place, and the Marine Corps was not part of it.
New openings would have to be created. The then-Seventh
Fleet Marine Officer, Colonel (now Major General) E. J.
Godfrey, worked persistently to establish effective relations
with HQ USARJ/IX CORPS and the JGSDF.
Colonel Godfrey's efforts led to an invitation to
COMSEVENTHFLT (as the operational representative of III MAF/
CTF 79) to become co-chairman of one of the study panels of
the Ground Planning Subcommittee. This was the Combined
Ground Training Study Panel (CGTSP), which had become the
most important forum for planning and discussing bilateral
training issues. Colonel Godfrey also participated in the
development of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between COMSEVENTHFLT,
HQ USARJ/IX CORPS and the Ground Staff Office (GSO). These
three-way agreements would have formalized a bilateral
relationship and provided for USMC participation in JGSDF-US
Army training cycles, and a pooling of the USMC-JGSDF and
U.S. Army-JGSDF officer exchange programs. Colonel Godfrey's
coordination resulted in a personal commitment by key
officers at HQ USARJ/IX CORPS, especially the Army G-3,
Colonel Bokovoy, to represent and support USMC interests in
all bilateral dealings with the JGSDF.
Such a commitment, however, could not assure results
unless a large number of other conditions were met. The
heavy Japanese emphasis on person-to-person relationships;
long-range, detailed planning; and adherence to schedules,
once approved, all mitigated against the success of any
"representatives relationship through HQ USARJ/IX CORPS.
In mid-1981, within a period of a few months, personnel
changes brought in a new Commander Seventh Fleet, a new
seventh Fleet Marine Officer, a new G-3 at HQ USARJ/IX CORPS,
and a new G-3 at the Ground Staff Office.
The new G-3 at HQ USARJ/IX CORPS, Colonel Weurpel, was
much less personally committed than his predecessor to the
growth of USMC-JGSDF ties, and (understandably) placed first
emphasis on developing the U.S. Army-JGSDF relationship. On
the other hand, the new Commander Seventh Fleet (Vice Admiral
Holcomb) placed an even higher priority on getting started in
bilateral ground activities leading to American amphibious
presence in northern Japan. The G-5 of the Ground Staff
Office (Lieutenant General Inamori), who was very much aware
of the problems encountered in JGSDF-USMC dealings to date,
was wary of any commitments at all, unless they had been
coordinated through and approved by HQ USARJ/IX CORPS.
Moreover, the entire subject of American amphibious
training outside Okinawa was still very much a "taboo" on the
Japanese side; a wave of public protest had swept the country
in mid-1981, in connection with assertions by former
Ambassador Reischauer that the U.S. had for a long period
routinely brought nuclear weapons into Japanese waters
despite the restrictions of Article IX. The JGSDF was also
anticipating the first-ever bilateral ground training; strong
opposition was expected, and JGSDF leaders wanted to keep a
"low profile" in every way possible until political waters
were calmer. Therefore, USN/USMC proposals for amphibious
training were politely but forcefully declined.
In August 1981, the first JGSDF-U.S. forces combined
ground training was conducted in the East Fuji Maneuver Area,
just outside Camp Fuji. It was a very small-scale, simple
communications exercise; however, it carried great symbolic
importance, politically and militarily, for the Japanese.
Ironically, this exercise was conducted with communications
personnel from the 3rd Marine Division; but advance planning
and bilateral coordination was done mostly by HQ USARJ/IX
CORPS. Apart from officer exchanges, this would be the only
formal USMC-JGSDF training to occur for more than three
Also in August 1981, the draft three-way memoranda
governing bilateral training and officer exchanges (already
signed by USARJ and GSO) were rejected for legal reasons by
U.S. Navy higher headquarters. This was unexpected by all;
it further alienated the JGSDF action officers who had helped
develop the documents, and Lieutenant General Inamori, who
had signed them.
At that point, the prospects for a constructive USMC-
JGSDF relationship seemed to be plummeting. Within a few
months it was learned that a schedule for proposed bilateral
ground training, for the next two years, had already been
submitted to the Defense Ministry for final political
approval. No events with the USMC were included.
This did not sit well with the Navy-Marine establish-
ment, particularly Vice Admiral Holcomb. But this abrupt end
to short-term aspirations proved to be positive, in that it
focused attention on the true complexity of bilateral issues,
and led to a more realistic evaluation of what was needed and
what was possible.
The New Seventh Fleet Marine Officer, Colonel R. F.
Findlay, with support from COMNAVFORJAPAN staff, analyzed the
overall situation and established new priorities. From that
point on, first priority went to establishing effective
personal relations with JGSDF counterparts. If continuity in
personal relations could be achieved, simpler and more
effective communications channels could be devised. Colonel
Findlay and COMNAVFORJAPAN staff began to make regular visits
to GSO, emphasizing the desire of the USN/USMC for more
effective ties. At the same time, they decided to forego any
further attempts at indirect coordination through HQ USARJ/IX
The original implementing documents for the 1978
"Guidelines" were also studied again. One of the basic
documents was a bilateral 1979 COMUSJAPAN-JSO Memorandum of
Understanding which set forth basic conditions for the plan-
ning and conduct of combined training. It was apparent that
the document had been signed with U.S. Army-JGSDF, U.S.
Navy-JMSDF, and U.S. Air Force-JASDF relationships in mind.
Nonetheless, the document would support the establishment of
a direct, two-party relationship between any one of the U.S.
subunified component headquarters and any one of the Air,
Maritime, or Ground Staff Offices of the JSDF. Since
COMNAVFORJAPAN is the subunified component headquarters which
represents all U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces in Japan, a
"single-service to single-service" relationship between
COMNAVFORJAPAN and the Ground Staff Office (GSO) could be
justified. That approach was adopted.
Both HQ USARJ/IX CORPS and the JGSDF were opposed to
this, however, and for understandable reasons. In two years,
HQ USARJ/IX CORPS had, in effect, gained control over
American access to the JGSDF, and did not want that control
diminished. The Ground Staff Office had accumulated a
solid track record in its dealings with the U.S. Army, and
a dubious record, for reasons already discussed, with the
An equally important reason for GSO resistance was
interservice rivalry within the JSDF. COMNAVFORJAPAN was
viewed as the "blue" counterpart of the JMSDF. When JGSDF
officers considered going through COMNAVFORJAPAN to deal with
III MAF, they rejected the idea of "green" being forced to go
through "blue" to reach "green."
Nonetheless, COMSEVENTHFLT, COMNAVFORJAPAN, AND III MAF
staff officers persisted. As early as October 1981, part of
the Junior Officer Exchange Program was restructured along
service lines. COMUSJAPAN and JSO had run that program in
two parts: "ground," which involved the JGSDF and 3rd Marine
Division; and "air," which involved the 1st Marine Air Wing,
the JASDF (for fixed-wing pilots) and the JGSDF (for heli-
copter pilots). In October, for the first time, ground
exchanges were planned for the coming twelve-month period
under COMNAVFORJAPAN coordination. It soon became clear just
how much detail was involved in a seemingly simple matter
like a bilateral visit, and why the previous complex channels
of coordination had not worked well. Over time, because
COMNAVFORJAPAN was both physically close to Tokyo and easily
accessible by telephone, the COMNAVFORJAPAN staff became
gradually actepted as a point of contact for coordination by
counterparts at the Ground Staff Office. As personal
relationships began to develop between officers at GSO and
officers at COMSEVENTHFLT/COMNAVFORJAPAN, a deeper under-
standing of mutual requirements and limitations came about.
One year later, "air" JOEP exchanges also were split off
from COMUSJAPAN/JSO control. From that point onward,
COMNAVFORJAPAN and III MAF handled JGSDF-USMC pilot and
ground officer exchanges as a single program, and handled
JASDF-USMC exchanges as a second, separate program. In both
cases, the direct coordination of visits led to closer ties
overall, as well as increased efficiency of management.
In 1982, the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force,
Pacific (CG FMFPAC) proposed a fundamental modification of
the structure of the Ground Planning Subcommittee. He
requested that CG, III MAF be included in the GPSC as an
equal member with CG USARJ/IX CORPS. A proviso was that CG
III MAF'S planning status would be that of a fourth subuni-
fied component commander "designee": this was necessary
because only under narrowly specified circumstances would
Marine forces ever be engaged in Japan, in any capacity other
than as CTF-79. CG FMFPAC argued that, nonetheless, adequate
planning for such a possibility should be undertaken.
This was an extremely important initiative, because it
would fundamentally affect the development of bilateral
ties. One basic reason why GSO officers had been reluctant
to consider sensitive combined training with USMC units, was
that only the U.S. Army was their "official counterpart" --
because of the formal relationship provided by the Ground
Planning Subcommittee. In that sense, there had been no
legal basis for anything but observer exchanges with the
Marine Corps. Moreover, the Marine Corps mission is world-
wide and clearly offensive, while the JGSDF is statutorily
defensive and restricted to Japan; the argument had been made
that USMC-JGSDF ties could not be politically justified. The
FMFPAC proposal would change this: it was important more for
its legal and symbolic significance, than for any substantive
planning which was likely to occur.
Naturally, HQ USARJ/IX CORPS strenuously resisted the
addition of III MAF to the GPSC; it stressed the potential
disruption of its "counterpart" relation with the JGSDF, and
emphasized its desire to represent the USMC forces in Japan
HQ USARJ/IX CORPS offered to add USMC members to subordinate
study panels where required.
Many months later, after numerous possibilities had been
studied, CINCPAC directed the inclusion of CG III MAF as a
"Deputy Co-Chairman" of the GPSC, with authority equal to
USARJ/IX CORPS on matters affecting USMC interests. In the
eyes of the Ground Staff Office, this ultimately legitimized
prospects for development of the USMC-JGSDF relationship.
In August 1982, the new Commanding General of III MAF,
Major General R. E. Haebel, visited the Ground Staff Office
for the first time. He called on the G-5 (Lieutenant General
Inamori) and the G-3 (Lieutenant General Takeda), as well as
on the JGSDF Chief of Staff (General Murai) and other service
chiefs. While at the Ground Staff Office, he expressed his
personal desire to build on existing ties and to develop an
organizational relationship between III MAF and the JGSDF.
Although the GSO general officers were politely noncommittal,
they were impressed by his obvious interest and personal
Major General Haebel soon became very deeply involved in
the ongoing COMSEVENTHFLT/COMNAVFORJAPAN efforts. Top-level
III MAF emphasis became a central factor in the drive to
cultivate USMC-JGSDF ties. Things soon began to break open.
In September 1982, for the first time, a group of
officers from the Ground staff Office was invited to visit
the seventh Fleet Amphibious Ready Group, aboard the USS
Peleliu and USS Peoria, when they made a scheduled port call
in Yokosuka. The invitation was delivered to GSO directly
through Navy/Marine channels, and was accepted. 43 staff
officers, mostly field grade and representing all sections of
GSO, received briefings on amphibious command and control
and toured the ships. For most of the JGSDF officers, it was
the first time that they had been around a naval vessel since
cadet days at the National Defense Academy; within GSO, the
visit made a significant positive impression.
Also in September 1982, COMSEVENTHFLT made a formal
assertion that thenceforth COMNAVFORJAPAN, as the subunified
service component headquarters, would assume COMSEVENTHFLT's
place (as co-chairman and USMC representative) in the
Combined Ground Training Study Panel (CGTSP). It was
envisioned that the III MAF G-3 would attend each meeting
with the COMNAVFORJAPAN co-chairman, so that substantive
discussions could be conducted directly with GSO counter-
parts. When not at sea, the Seventh Fleet Marine Officer
would continue to attend as an observer.
Meanwhile, the USMC-JGSDF ground officer exchanges had
gone off well during the August 1981 -- July 1982 period.
For the next l2 months, GSO proposed a major expansion in the
number and scope of exchanges. The acronym JOEP was kept,
but its meaning was changed from "Junior Officer" Exchange
Program to "Japan Observer" Exchange Program; exchanges of
enlisted personnel and field grade officers were included in
the new plans.
In November 1982, for the first time, GSO sent nine
officers (a colonel, two lieutenant colonels, four majors,
and two captains) to visit Marine Corps facilities in CONUS.
This was a diversion of JGSDF funds traditionally spent on
visits to U.S. Army facilities in CONUS. The visit was
arranged entirely through USN/USMC channels, and was a major
success. Upon his return, the senior visiting officer
debriefed not only Lieutenant General Inamori, the G-5, but
also General Murai, the Chief of Staff. USMC operations
received high marks, especially the realism of the 29 Palms
CAX; a subsequent article in the JGSDF Schools Command (Fuji
schools) Journal was devoted to an analysis of the exercise.
That same month, two other important visits occurred.
In mid-November, Major General Haebel visited Hokkaido at the
invitation of the Northern Army Commander, Lieutenant General
Watanabe, with assistance from Lieutenant General Takeda, the
GSO G-3. Major General Haebel received briefings at the
Sapporo headquarters of the Northern Army, then traveled by
JGSDF helicopter around almost the entire periphery of the
island. Visits were made to subordinate Division head-
quarters, and one full day was devoted to examining the area
around the Soya Strait. The JGSDF used this visit to
underscore concerns of its own; carefully prepared articles
appeared in major Japanese newspapers, linking Major General
Haebel's interest with key areas of JGSDF budgetary and
equipment inadequacy (Appendix 1).
In late November, Lieutenant General (now General)
J. K. Davis, CG of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, toured USMC
units in Japan. In a first-of-its-kind visit, he also called
on General Murai, Lieutenant General Takeda, and Lieutenant
General Inamori. Lieutenant General Davis underscored his
support for Major General Haebel's initiatives and expressed
his own hope that a productive JGSDF-USMC relationship could
None of these visits had involved or been coordinated by
HQ USARJ/IX CORPS. The Army staff had grown increasingly
upset at the rapid growth of JGSDF-USMC ties.
A new Commanding General, Lieutenant General Weyand, had
arrived in November, and by early December, HQ USARJ/IX CORPS
was openly and strongly resisting, within high-level U.S.
channels, what it perceived to be Marine encroachments on its
"turf." within the Ground Staff Office, too, there were
indications of a division into "pro-Marine" and "pro-Army"
The situation on the U.S. side became progressively
polarized, with high-level headquarters beginning to take
sides. The interservice standoff was resolved at last in
late December, when Major General Haebel flew to Camp Zama
and personally discussed the situation with Lieutenant
General Weyand. Major General Haebel emphasized his desire
to work in cooperation with the Army, the desirability of a
united American front, and the validity of the direct U.S.
Navy/Marine access to the JGSDF. Lieutenant General Weyand
ultimately concurred, and within a week staff officers from
III MAF, USARJ/IX CORPS, and COMNAVFORJAPAN had prepared and
published a formal agreement to govern the future planning
and coordination of bilateral ground training with the
JGSDF. This agreement recognized the validity of
COMNAVFORJAPAN's role as formal interface between III MAF and
the JGSDF or USARJ, with bilateral coordination as required.
For informal working relationships, direct liaison between
III MAF and the JGSDF or USARJ was authorized and encouraged.
As part of the agreement, COMNAVFORJAPAN delegated its
co-chairmanship of the Combined Ground Training Study Panel
to III MAF: COMNAVFORJAPAN and COMSEVENTHFLT representatives
would continue to attend as observers, but the three
co-chairmen would henceforth all be "green."
By now, the key staff officers within the GSO G-5 had
become strongly supportive of expanded future JGSDF-USMC
involvement. In December 1982, General Murai, the Chief of
staff, authorized as policy the scheduling of bilateral
training with USMC forces on a "separate but equal" basis as
training with Army units. At Lieutenant General Inamori's
suggestion, a meeting of the CGTSP was scheduled for January
1983 in Okinawa, to be hosted by the new co-
chairman -- CG III MAF.
At that meeting, Lieutenant General Inamori formally
announced GSO'S new policy embracing future activities with
the Marines. As a prelude to the meeting, formal honors were
rendered to Lieutenant General Inamori, and after the meet-
ing, III MAF briefings were provided. Later, Major General
Haebel escorted Lieutenant General Inamori to III MAF facili-
ties throughout Okinawa; this included a live-fire shoot at
Camp Hansen and observation of a small-scale amphibious
landing at Camp Schwab. The following day, Lieutenant
General Inamori provided reciprocal briefings and a tour of
JGSDF facilities on Okinawa. Social amenities, including
reciprocal dinners, were included in the visit. Upon his
return to Tokyo, Lieutenant General Inamori debriefed General
Murai extensively on the substance of the trip and on his
favorable impressions of III MAF.
The following month, General Murai himself visited
Okinawa, and Major General Haebel prepared a similar briefing
and tour. At Camp Hansen, General Murai inspected the
personnel and equipment of the Air Contingency Battalion, and
at Camp Schwab he observed a small landing exercise with
fixed-wing and helicopter air support. An evening reception
in General Murai's honor wasd given by Okinawa Governor
Nishime, and Major General Haebel and Major General Phillips
(then CG, MCB Camp Butler) were included. Later the same
month, Major General Haebel again visited Lieutenant General
Watanabe at his headquarters in Sapporo, Hokkaido.
In April 1983, Admiral Yata, the then-Chairman, Joint
Staff Council (CJSC) retired. General Murai was selected to
replace him. Lieutenant General Watanabe was brought from
the Northern Army to became JGSDF Chief of Staff, and was
promoted to General.
In June 1983, the watershed event in the evolution of
USMC-JGSDF relations occurred. For seven months, bilateral
staff planning had envisioned Exercise Valiant Blitz 3-83, a
major amphibious exercise to be conducted in Okinawa, as an
ideal opportunity to further enlarge the scope of the Japan
Observer Exchange Program. Accordingly, extensive prepara-
tions had been made.
One month prior to the exercise, a group of 5 JGSDF
field grade officers was sent to Okinawa under the aegis of
JOEP, to study the preliminary 9th MAB rehearsal and CPX.
Then, for the actual exercise, 42 JGSDF officers were
flown by USMC C-130 from Atsugi to Futenma; 25 more JGSDF
officers joined them in Okinawa. These officers, repre-
senting JGSDF units all over Japan, were given comprehensive
briefings and then divided into groups by occupational
specialty. They were then further divided and integrated as
observers into USMC operational units, from the MAB head-
quarters down to company and platoon level. These JGSDF
officers accompanied their host units as they went through
final briefings, embarked 7th Fleet ships, and put out to
sea. On D-Day the JGSDF officers came ashore with the Marines
in AAV'S, landing craft, and helicopters. They remained with
their units during maneuver ashore and the logistics exercise
which ensued. For the D-Day landing only, an additional
thirty officers from JGSDF units on Okinawa were invited to
observe from fixed bleachers at Kin Blue Beach.
JASDF officers, also participating as observers under
the aegis of the USMC-JASDF JOEP, were fully integrated into
the air command and control facilities at Futenma; there they
watched Marine air controllers direct USMC, USN, and USAF
aircraft which were providing air support throughout Valiant
At Major General Haebel's invitation, General Watanabe
himself came to watch Valiant Blitz. With Major General
Haebel, he observed the landing from the beach, only a few
hundred feet from police lines and chanting local demonstra-
tors. He also observed the ship-to-shore movement from the
air, and flew to the USS Tarawa to see helicopter and AV-8
support operations. As the guest of Admiral Hogg, the new
Commander Seventh Fleet, he had lunch aboard the USS Blue
Ridge. Then, with MGen Haebel, he flew to the Northern
Training Area; there he saw USN and USMC aircraft being
requested and controlled by a Marine forward air controller
(FAC). The day ended with a tour of Marine air control
facilities at Futenma.
Valiant Blitz represented a quantum leap forward in the
scope and nature of bilateral activity. The highly visible
presence of JGSDF officers, including its Chief of Staff, as
observers in an "offensively" oriented Marine Corps exercise
was a polticial and military "first." General Watanabe's
commitment ended the hesitations of mid-level GSO staff.
Most impressive of all was General Watanabe's handling of the
press prior to the event. On the Friday before Valiant Blitz
was conducted, he called a press conference, openly announced
his plans, and further stated that he intended to pursue full
combined training with USMC forces in the future. He subse-
quently has reiterated that intent in various public forums.
In August 1983, almost 50 JGSDF and 50 JASDF officers
were invited to participate in the USS Midway "guest cruise"
-- another small step in chipping away at "green" resistance
to "blue" involvement. Interest and enthusiasm were high.
Also in August 1983, Lieutenant General C. G. Cooper,
the new CG FMFPAC, visited Tokyo and called on General Murai,
General Watanabe, Lieutenant General Takeda, and Lieutenant
General Inoue (Lieutenant General Inamori's replacement as
G-5), as well as the JMSDF Chief of Staff and the JASDF Vice
Chief of Staff. In his calls with the JGSDF generals, he
stressed his support of Major General Haebel's initiatives
and his appreciation for JGSDF efforts.
Eventual multi-service involvement in the U.S. Army-JGSDF
"Yamasakura" CPX series opened up additional opportunities to
develop the JGSDF-USMC defense planning relationship. Signi-
ficant USMC involvement began with the Yamasakura exercise con-
ducted at Ft. Ord, California, in June 1983. It continued with
the next iteration at JGSDF Eastern Army headquarters in
Sendai in November 1983, and at Ft. Lewis, Washington, in
May 1984. A remarkable aspect of USMC involvement in the
Yamasakura CPX series is that originally its participation
was pro forma; it was intended by the American sponsor (HQ
USARJ/IX CORPS) to be more a show of U.S. solidarity than
anything else. However, JGSDF representatives pressed to
have a Seventh Fleet amphibious landing included in the
scenario, followed by a linkup on the ground between USMC and
JGSDF forces. This suggestion was strongly opposed by HQ
USARJ/IX CORPS. However, the Army eventually yielded, and
JGSDF and USMC participants shared the same playing boards in
the actual conduct of the CPX.
In December 1983 and February 1984, two more groups of
selected JGSDF officers visited USMC facilities in CONUS.
The December visit was oriented around a major amphibious
landing exercise at Camp Pendleton (with "counteramphibious"
study objectives), and the February visit was focused on a
combined arms exercise at Twentynine Palms. A total of
twenty JGSDF officers participated, using one-half of GSO's
budget for CONUS visits. (The balance was used for U.S. Army
In February 1984, under authority of the JOEP, a Marine
infantry platoon observed cold-weather training in central
Hokkaido. This evolution was designed as a preparatory step
for company-level combined training to be conducted one year
later at the same location.
In October 1984, the first formal USMC-JGSDF combined
training in three years took place in northeast Hokkaido.
This was an artillery live-fire exercise involving a
battalion (minus) on each side. The exercise was extremely
significant in a number of ways. As recently as January
1983, Hokkaido was considered far too sensitive for USMC
combined training. Because its prefectural and local
governments have been traditionally leftist, and because the
island is so close to the Soviet Union, GSO had felt that
public acceptance would have to be gradually cultivated.
A series of precedents involving less-sensitive USMC-JGSDF
combined-training in Honshu, was envisioned. This proved
unnecessary: with General Watanabe's support, the artillery
FIREX was planned and successfully executed without any
preliminary exercises in Honshu. Moreover, it was conducted
in an exercise area less than 50 miles from the Soviet-
The second major combined exercise in JFY-85 was a
company-level cold weather exercise, also in Hokkaido,
which was successfully conducted in March 1985.
The foregoing history may seem anecdotal and excessively
detailed in its focus. Nonetheless, some important prin-
ciples are clear:
(1) In Japan, personal relationships precede and
underly organizational relationships. Whether it involves a
15-minute office call or a series of meetings to discuss
concrete defense plans, substantive business will not begin
unless personal trust and rapport have been established.
Probably more than any other factor, Major General Haebel's
efforts opened the door to future JGSDF-USMC bilateral
(2) Continuity of coordination and consistency in
policy are essential. The JGSDF operates in a very different
environment -- a far more politically sensitive environment
-- than the USMC. When hard bargaining becomes necessary,
Marine counterparts have to understand those sensitivities,
and make adequate allowances. To smooth the "bumps in the
road", direct coordination, built on long-term personal
relationships, is essential.
(3) Language is a major obstacle. It is probably the
greatest single barrier to the continued growth of bilateral
military relations. To ensure the long-term viability of its
presence in Japan, the USMC needs to place immediate emphasis
on training selected officers and staff NCO's in the Japanese
(4) The JGSDF must plan far into the future. Bilateral
training schedules are finalized for political approval two
years in advance on an annual cycle. A correspondingly well-
thought-out Marine plan must be maintained, managed by the
permanent MAF, Division, and Regimental/Group headquarters;
this plan would mesh the schedules of rotating battalions and
squadrons into the almost unchanging schedules of their JGSDF
(5) The location of III MAF in Okinawa is a major
handicap to the development of bilateral ties. Regular,
large-scale staff-to-staff involvement is simply not
possible. This being the case (and not likely to change),
additional Marine officers on the COMNAVFORJAPAN staff are
needed. An alternative approach would be III MAF represen-
tatives working in Yokosuka or Tokyo on a permanent basis.
Currently, only one USMC major is assigned to COMNAVFORJAPAN:
this is not enough.
(6) Things move slowly in Japan. Consensus is
essential, and emphasis must be placed on the long term.
But patience, understanding, and mutual respect bring
about concrete results.
Japan's unique social organization and disciplined
energies have, in four decades, brought it from ruin to the
verge of world power. There are many paradoxes associated
with this almost unprecedented growth.
The country's institutions are formally democratic, but
its traditions are hierarchial: the underlying principle of
Japanese society is individual obligation, not individual
freedom. Japanese share an intense feeling of national
uniqueness; strong political movements, from pacifism to
nationalism, are connected with this feeling. The cohesive-
ness of Japanese society would support rapid mobilization and
centralized control, if a new consensus were reached. Despite
its enormous industrial, technological and financial power,
Japan remains extremely vulnerable: it is almost totally
dependent on a huge, free flow of imports and exports for its
national survival. In a real emergency, national consensus
would coalesce rapidly.
The Japanese government has relied on U.S. military
protection throughout the postwar period. Now it is promoting
its own military buildup. The U.S. has encouraged this
buildup, to the point of pressuring Japan for greater and more
immediate results. There are significant elements within
Japan which question the validity and worth of military ties
to the U.S. Yet for America's own interests, the preserva-
tion of the U.S.-Japan alliance -- with or without a stronger
JSDF -- is absolutely vital.
Japan's military capabilities and role are certain to
change. The real questions are when, how much, and in what
direction. The answers to those questions are still being
debated among Japanese policymakers. As the Defense Ministry
With its gross national product (GNP)
accounting for around 10% of the global
total today, Japan has become a country
whose moves cause major effects on world
situations. It may well be said that
Japan is required to play a role matching
its position in the international community,
fully recognizing its responsibility as one
of free nations.1
All in all, there are powerful countervailing forces at
work in our bilateral relationship with Japan. Through more
extensive and more supportive military-to-military ties, we
have an opportunity to significantly influence the shape of
Japanese policy. The Japanese generals of the year 2000 are
captains and majors now. The strengthening of personal
friendships, unit-to-unit goodwill, and the commitment to a
shared defense will have far-reaching effects on the strength
and stability of our Pacific alliance.
More than any other American service, the U.S. Marine
Corps is in a position to contribute to this "bilateralism."
It comprises almost one half of total U.S. forces in Japan,
and is the only effective counterpart for the largest and
most politically significant Japanese service -- the JGSDF.
Recent changes in USMC policy will facilitate this process.
The conversion to 3-year accompanied tours in Okinawa and
Iawkuni will provide an entirely new sense of continuity at
the regiment/group headquarters level and above.
There are organizational and attitudinal obstacles to be
overcome, but a strong beginning has been made. A determined
USMC commitment can lead to almost certain results, paying
ever-larger dividends, in the future.
1U.S. Department of Defense, Soviet Military Power
1985, p. 106.
2Yanaga Chitosi, Japanese People and Politics,
3Sinha, Radha, Japan's Options for the 1980's,
4Sinha, op. cit., pp. 199-200.
5Sinha, op. cit., p. 200.
6Sinha, op. cit., p. 201.
7Sinha, op. cit., p. 200.
8Sinha, op. cit., p. 200.
9Brzezinski, Zbigniew, The Fragile Blossom: Crisis
and Change in Japan, p. 100.
1OJapan Defense Agency, Defense of Japan 1984, p. 60.
11Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 60.
12Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 54.
13Sinha, op. cit., p. 202.
14Brzezinski, op. cit., p. 101.
15Brzezinski, op. cit., p. 105.
16Sinha, op. cit., p. 203.
17Sinha, op. cit., p. 204.
18Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 51.
19Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., pp. 58-59.
2OJapan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 60.
21Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., pp. 60-61.
22Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 62.
23Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 63.
24Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 69.
25Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 71.
26Weinberger, Caspar W., Annual Report to the
Congress, Fiscal Year 1985, p. 218.
1Japan Defense Agency, op. cit. , p. 298.
1Japan Defense Agency, op. cit., p. 51.
de Bary, Wm. Theodore, editor. Sources of Japanese
Tradition, Volumes I-II, Columbia University Press,
1958, New York, NY.
An outstanding collection of pivotal original
Japanese documents in translation: highly recommended.
Barnett, Robert W. Beyond War: Japan's Concept of
Comprehensive National Security, Pergamon-Brassey's
International Defense Publishers, Washington, D.C.
A collection of summarized first-person interviews
with influential Japanese on all sides of the Defense
question. Valuable insight. Recommended.
Benedict, Ruth. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns
of Japanese Culture, Charles E. Tuttle, 1946, Tokyo.
Written during World War II, this is a classic
treatment of the Japanese psyche. Recommended.
Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Fragile Blossom: Crisis and
Change in Japan, Harper and Row, 1972, New York, NY.
A useful snapshot of Japanese policy in the early
Comprehensive National Security Study Group. Report on
Comprehensive National Security (tentative translation),
Foreign Press Center, 1980, Tokyo.
An important policy proposal which has had lasting
influence on Japanese defense planners.
Doi, Takeo. The Anatomy of Dependence, Kodansha Inter-
national, 1971, Tokyo.
An analysis of Japanese thinking with respect to
loyalty and passivity, and how it affects personal
and national behavior. Interesting.
Dower, John W., editor. Origins of the Modern Japanese
State: Selected Writings of E. H. Norman, Pantheon
Books, 1975, New York, NY.
A voluminous collection of the writings of one of the
early Western experts on Japan.
Forbis, William H. Japan Today: People, Places, Power,
1975, Charles E. Tuttle, Tokyo.
A brief survey of Japanese attitudes in the mid-
Jansen, Marius B., editor. Changing Japanese Attitudes
Toward Modernization, Charles E. Tuttle, 1965, Tokyo.
Provides historical perspective for the modern
student of Japan.
Japan Culture Institute, Politics and Economics in
Contemporary Japan, 1979, Tokyo.
An interesting collection of essays: only indirectly
related to Defense, but useful for insights into organi-
Japan Defense Agency. Defense of Japan white paper
(Boeihakusho), annual issues commencing 1976,
This is the official source for Japanese Defense
Policy. Most highly recommended for initial readings
by interested students.
Kahn, Herman. The Emerging Japanese Superstate: Challenge
and Response, Prentice-Hall, 1970, Englewood Cliffs,
A fascinating treatment by a recognized expert on
Nakane, Chie. Japanese Society, Penguin Books, 1970,
New York, NY.
Primarily sociological in emphasis: interesting
reading which provides insight into Japanese manners
Reischauer, Edwin O. Japan Past and Present, Charles E.
Tuttle, 1946, 1952, 1964, Tokyo.
An excellent introduction to Japanese society,
including the roles of government and the military,
by the former U.S. Ambassador.
Research Institute for Peace and Security, Asian Security,
annual issues commencing 1979, Tokyo.
An important and influential publication from one
of Japan's leading "Think Tanks."
Sinha, Radha. Japan's Options for the 1980's, Charles E.
Tuttle, 1982, Tokyo.
An incisive, wide-ranging and valuable analysis of
military, economic, and political possibilities.
Tsuneta Yano Memotial Society (Yano-Tsuneta Kinekai), Nippon:
A Charted Survey of Japan, 1981-82, Kokusei-Sha, 1981,
A presentation of Japan in statistical tabulations:
provides unusual perspective of Japanese social
United States Department of Defense. Soviet Military Power
1985, Washington, D.C.
United States Department of State. The United States-Japan
Security Treaty and Related Documents, Official English
and Japanese Texts, reprinted from Treaties and other
International Acts Series, 1960, Washington, D.C.
Weinberger, Caspar W. Annual Report to the Congress, Fiscal
Year 1985, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984.
Yanaga, Chitoshi. Japanese People and Politics, Science
Editions, 1956, New York, NY.
Provides useful insight into Japan's first postwar
decade. Now dated, probably not of interest to the
Mochizuki, Mike M. "Japan's Search for Strategy," Inter-
national Affairs Journal, Center for Science and
International Affairs, Harvard University, Winter
1983-84, Volume 8, Number 3, pages 152-205.
Bennet, David L. Japan's Self-Defense Forces: To What
Purpose?, 1983 Prize essay on U.S.-Japan Relations
U.S.-Japan Culture Center, Washington, D.C.
Brief essay with interesting approach to the
question of Japanese defense imperatives.
20 October 1982
Translation: Major E. G. Beinhart, III
AMERICAN MILITARY LEADER
MARINE DIVISION COMMANDER
TO INSPECT SOYA STRAITS
INDICATES SERIOUS CONSIDERATION OF "NORTHERN DEFENSE"
Government sources on the 19th made it clear that the
Commander of American Marine Forces in Japan will visit
Hokkaido during the middle of next month, and will inspect
the area around the Soya Straits. It will be the first
on-the-ground inspection by a Marine Commander of Soya
Straits, which is said to be the most difficult to defend
among the three straits of Tsushima, Tsugaru, and Soya.
America, as part of its new strategy which gives serious
consideration to the "North," [as indicated by] such things
as Pacific Commander-in-Chief Long making, on the 21st of
this month, a first-ever visit by a [CINCPAC] commander to
the JGSDF Northern Army General Headquarters at Chitose,
Hokkaido, is rapidly beginning to recognize the strategic
importance of Hokkaido; however, this on-the-ground
inspection by the Marine Commander, as part of such a trend,
can be interpreted as indicating that the American military
has serious uneasiness over the warfighting capacity of the
The visit to Hokkaido [will be made by] Major General
Haebel, who is Commander of the American 3rd Marine
Amphibious Force and concurrently Commander of the 3rd Marine
Division. [From] approximately the 10th of November, for a
period of 2 days, [he] will stay in the northern Hokkaido
area. Apart from conducting an analysis of conditions with
regard to the defense of the straits, and exchanging opinions
at the Asahigawa headquarters of the JGSDF 2d Division, which
is charged with the defense of Soya Straits, [Major General
Haebel] will inspect in detail the conditions of the people,
terrain, and road networks in the vicinity of Wakkanai,
refining countermeasures for a situation in which, by some
remote chance, Soviet forces came to make an amphibious
Deploying from their central base in Okinawa, America's
3rd Marine Division (about 20,000 men) has until now mainly
prepared for an emergency in Korea or the Middle East;
however, this inspection of the northern area by Major
General Haebel, as part of the new strategy of "cooperating
as allied countries to engage the Soviet Pacific Fleet before
it can deploy extensively in the Pacific Ocean," reveals that
America is beginning to give extremely serious consideration
In order to bottle up the Soviet Pacific Fleet inside
the track of the Japanese Archipelago, [the question of] how
to seal off the 3 straits of Tsushima, Tsugaru and Soya
becomes the most important issue; however, the American
military viewpoint is that it is more likely [the Soviets]
will aim at the two straits of Tsugaru and Soya, rather than
at Tsushima Strait, where many obstacles are stretched, such
as the limit to Soviet air cover, the keenly watching eyes of
both Japan and South Korea, and the presence of American
military bases on Okinawa even if [the Soviet ships] slip
Under these circumstances, it is natural that a worst-
case situation must be conjectured, in which there is a
capture by Soviet forces of all of Hokkaido, or at least the
capture of that portion of the area which is adjacent to the
straits; however, even within this [worst-case scenario], it
is the unanimous concern of [defense] specialists that it is
the possibility of massive air cover employed from [Soviet]
bases on Sakhalin (KARAFUTO), leading in turn to Soviet
possession of Soya Straits, which presents the greatest
Aircraft carrier battle group exercises, which have
already been conducted 3 times this year in the northern
Pacific and the Sea of Japan; the stationing of F-16 fighter-
bomber aircraft at Misawa Air Base, Aomori Prefecture;
Pacific Forces Commander-in-Chief Long's visit to Misawa Air
Base and the Northern Army General Headquarters; the conduct
at Chitose for the first time of combined air-to-air combat
training; Japan-U.S. combined ground exercises in September
and December--all of these things can be seen as moving to
keep a strong eye on such a state of affairs; however, our
vital Self Defense Forces, ground, sea, and air, have nearly
zero ability to defend the straits--that is close to the
actual state of affairs.
Especially with regard to the JGSDF, which is lagging
farthest behind in modernization, the American side is said
to have been shocked at the actual state of affairs, which
became clearly understood during a series of combined
exercises and related events; the viewpoint is emerging that
in an untenable situation, the American forces should
consider predeploying Marines to the Soya Straits, and in the
remote change of a situation in which Hokkaido has been
occupied, even a counter-amphibious assault.
National Defense Magazine
Japan Defense Agency
Translation: Major E. G. Beinhart, III
NATIONAL DEFENSE INTERVIEW
"GROUND FORCES: THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF NATIONAL DEFENSE"
---Shoring Up Defense Capabilities through Equipment Moderni-
zation and Sufficiency---
JGSDF Chief of Staff Keitaro Watanabe/Nihon Keizai Shimbun
Correspondent Teruhito Akiyama
The Soviet Union: Unbroken Wartime Attitude
Akiyama: Some time ago, at the Supreme Soviet, Secretary
Andropov was selected as Chairman of the Presidium of
the Supreme Soviet. He seized complete control of the
post; however, according to all that we know, internal
and external to the Andropov regime, there are various
conditions of extreme severity and it appears that a
radical change in policy will not be implemented.
And if this is so, the [policy] line of increasing
military power, which has been consistently carried out
up to now, probably will not change now or in the
By extension, it is anticipated that conditions in
the far east will move one step further in the direction
of increasing severity. Things such as the positioning
of troops and armaments in the Northern Territories, or
the invasion of Afghanistan, have excited the feelings
of the Japanese people toward the Soviets, and have had
the effect of amplifying [their] sense of mistrust
toward the Soviets; there are also indications that
ultimately the Soviet Union's methods are a mistake.
General Watanabe, you have served as military attache
to the Soviet Union and as Commander of the Northern
Army; how do you analyze current and future trends of
the Soviet Union?
Watanabe: Among the distinctive features of the Soviet
nation, there are some which I think have been extremely
conspicuous. One of these, as has often been said, is
that from top to bottom, they are "believers in power."
That also is where classical [political] analysis leads
to, and it is a splendid formulation.
It is without question a militaristic society; if you
live there, you really can concur in this because of
such things as the severity toward rank which exists
even in ordinary society, or the way of dealing with
foreign policy problems which has made power its back-
ground. To put it strongly, their attitude toward the
outside--but also toward the inside--amounts to an
extreme sense of awe toward great strength, and it is
also a characteristic when they make concessions.
Because until now there has been no strong nation
other than America, [we] have come to hope for such a
posture [of great strength] by America.
For example, as in the 1962 Cuban Crisis, when the
Soviet Union brought missiles into Cuba, their inability
to prevent a humiliating withdrawal--accepting then-
President Kennedy's powerful demand for removal--was a
frank manifestation of that characteristic, that they
will concede to great strength. That is my theory.
The reverse [of that] is that they ridicule weakness,
and they will employ oppression with absolutely no com-
promise. Such things as the Hungary crisis and the
Czechoslovakian crisis, and today's Poland problem--
those are good examples.
Again, the 1976 MIG-25 incident (in which a Soviet
pilot defected to Japan): it was a deliberate landing
in an independent nation, but since it was Soviet they
questioned whether it had not been shot down, and in
connection with Japan's examination of the aircraft
fuselage, they angrily denounced (us) as an unfriendly
From this viewpoint, for the Soviet Union, nothing is
more important than military strength.
And they are convinced of the usefulness of military
power in situations in which they cannot find political
solutions for political problems. Therefore, actions
associated with a reduction of military power, even
though [sustained military power] is oppressive to the
livelihood of the people, will not be carried out.
This is because, as America's "Committee on the
Present Danger" points out, among the national objec-
tives of the Soviet state, that which has come to
receive highest priority is altering the military
balance in ways that are advantageous to it.
Therefore, in that sense, the course of military
expansion will not change because of the Andropov
regime, and it will continue as national policy in
the present and future as well.
However, to look on the bright side, it appears that
[the Soviets] will have nothing else to rely on, other
than military force.
Another great [national] characteristic, the Soviet
constitution itself, can be viewed as a martial-law
constitution; to be blunt, [the Soviet Union] is a war-
time state. Our aptness to misinterpret them is due to
the fact that we persist in looking at them through the
same eyes that we view the nations of the liberal camp
of Europe and the West.
However, if we closely examine that system, and [take
into account] the fact that the country is already a
wartime state, we immediately understand.
Currently, even a low estimate of Soviet national
defense forces is said to be about 3,700,000 men.
Because American [forces] are just about 2,000,000, if
we compare them, it can be said that the Soviet Union
is a state system which has almost completed mobiliza-
tion. Also, the regulation of consumer goods, and in
addition, what are referred to as the human-rights
issues: people who criticize the system, if they are
well-known among the populace, are exiled from the
country, and those persons whose presence would be
advantageous to foreign nations, such as Sakharov, are
imprisoned within the country.
If we think of these kinds of things as a whole, we
are able to say that the Soviet Union clearly is a
Valiant Blitz: Splendid
Akiyama: There is movement on the western side, however,
especially America. It goes without my saying, that
[America] is planning to strengthen its presence in the
Pacific region. This will not be merely by unilateral
American military exercises; there was Team Spirit '83
with the South Korean military, and since then, Japan-
U.S. combined exercises also are expanding in scope.
Also, the major exercise "Valiant Blitz" was recently
conducted in Okinawa by the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet
and Okinawa-based Marines; in this [exercise], 117
members of the three Self-Defense Forces conducted study
From that point of departure, and encompassing the
problem of actual combined ground training, which
appears to have been delayed until now, in what
direction will Japan-U.S. combined training go, now and
in the future? If there is a concrete plan, please
Watanabe: For the Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces, the
history of combined exercises is a long one, but for the
Ground Self-Defense Force, it ends--when the current CPX
is included--at only the seventh iteration.
I think that combined ground training of the JGSDF
and American [units] has very great significance, in a
sense that is different from combined training of mari-
time and air [units].
As you know, it is an extremely serious action for
a nation to commit its ground [combat] units to the
defense of a foreign country. To say that in a positive
way, the commitment of ground units unquestionably
demonstrates a strong national will toward the defense
of that country.
To take an example, during the administration of
President Carter, America was going to withdraw troops--
ground units--from the Korean peninsula; however, the
problem was that if [those ground units] were completely
withdrawn, America unavoidably would have appeared to
the world to have lost its resolve to defend South
Korea. So the final outcome was that a nucleus of one
division of ground troops was left behind.
In that sense, ground forces serve to demonstrate a
nation's defensive resolve. Moreover, because they are
inseparable from the land, they are the ultimate source
of national defense: they have that meaning also.
That being the case, the implementation by Japanese
and U.S. ground units of CPX's and ground field exer-
cises, in Japan, not only develops harmony in Japan-U.S.
combined operations, and increases the skills of the
JGSDF, but--simply stated--it also makes clear America's
resolve to actually defend Japan.
This means, I think, that [U.S.-Japan combined
exercises] make an extremely important contribution as
a deterrent to aggression. Therefore, as our course for
the present and future, I believe that [these combined
exercises] will come to be more and more substantial and
[will be conducted at] increasingly higher levels.
As a first step, we are examining where and how to
conduct one CPX and one FTX later this year.
Akiyama: On a related subject, what were your impressions
from having observed "Valiant Blitz"?
Watanabe: An amphibious landing is said to be the most
difficult type of [military] operation. That is because
it is conducted by a central core of ground forces,
backed up by naval and air units; the operation requires
such meticulous coordination that a single false step
can lead to annihilation at the hands of the enemy.
They were performing magnificently that kind of
difficult operation. The Marines' ground, naval and
air operations were splendidly coordinated; [they were]
carried out without the slightest deviation from the
time schedule; and seeing the behavior of individual
Marines after the landing, I thought there was just the
kind of self-confidence that you might expect, that they
are the world's strongest [forces]. It gave me the
impression of an extreme strength of spirit.
Akiyama: As has already come out during this conversation,
the Marine Corps has become a central point of emphasis;
but will the conduct of combined exercises by the JGSDF
with the U.S. Marine Corps--on the main islands of
Japan, other than Hokkaido--become the subject of
Watanabe: With regard to the conduct of regular [non-
amphibious] operations on Japanese territory, as the
JGSDF has done in the past: I think that there is a
great significance in the conduct of combined exercises
with the Marine Corps.
Because the Marine Corps actually maintains a
presence in our country, it is closely connected to
the strengthening of our ability to stop [aggression].
However, there is a problem in the conduct of com-
bined amphibious training.
In the event of operations to defend Japanese terri-
tory, if part of our territory has been captured by the
enemy, it cannot be denied that there are circumstances
in which it would be advantageous to conduct a counter-
amphibious operation to recover that territory. How-
ever, the Self-Defense Forces as they exist have no
amphibious role; consequently, we are not able to
conduct that type of training.
Akiyama: You have indicated a policy that the content of
[combined] ground training also will become increasingly
sophisticated. However, these things are still only in
their beginning stages; if [experience] is not accumu-
lated through a great many repetitions, it will never
become possible to attain that high level--isn't that
Watanabe: That is exactly right. Because at present, we are
still at the foundation level. There is a large moun-
tain of problems which still must be solved in order to
attain that high level--things such as the problem of
language study, procedural problems, and communications.
Reevaluation of the Training Cycle
Akiyama: Soon it will be the Budget season. The composition
of the JFY-84 outline [budget] request is being formally
developed now; [could you please discuss] the items of
key importance and the basic policy [they reflect]?
Watanabe: It will be the second year in the JFY-81 mid-term
plan, which is based on the [Japan Defense Agency]
Director General's guidance, and [my] general intent is
to achieve [those] objectives as rapidly as possible--
however, of course, [viewing] the consolidation of
defense assets as a balanced ground force. That is, I
want to achieve a balance between increased standardi-
zation, the full development of combat power, and
With regard to standardization, I want to improve the
coordination between personnel [strength] and equipment
increases, especially in the units of the Northern Army
Next, with regard to improvements in combat power and
modernization, I want to strengthen [the JGSDF's] sup-
porting firepower, [with] such [weapons] as the 203mm
or 155mm self-propelled howitzers, and the FH-70; and
[I want to] increase our mobility [with such weapons as]
the type 74 armored personnel carrier and transport
After that, things such as the modernization of the
air defense missile system are needed; but anyway, since
this is a budget-related discussion, such things as
transport helicopters were included some time ago, and
[those] decisions [are made] at the Defense Agency
Akiyama: With respect to inclusion in the budget, the
modernization of the Air Defense Missile System is
attracting widespread interest. Because there are
negotiations with the Finance Minister, affecting the
results, as a gut-level feeling, or a general idea, the
introduction of the new missile system--or in other
words, the Patriot--with regard to that, how...
Watanabe: The conclusion reached by the Ground Staff Office
is that the Patriot is the most appropriate [system] for
us; but pragmatically, I think that [we must take] as
our objective the realistic pursuit of a mixed system of
Patriot and Improved Hawk missiles.
Akiyama: The JASDF is also considering the same kind of re-
organization of [their] Air Defense Missile System; in
what ways are you promoting coordination with the JASDF?
Watanabe: The question of how [we will] share in this pro-
gram is of course a big issue. But basically, because
it will be a great expense, it will be as follows,
taking into account the desires of both sides:
It will be in accordance with the decisions of the
Director General; but in my [own opinion], I think that
there will be no problem if we just adhere firmly to
basic operation[al concepts]. That is, one of the
important special features of the Patriot is the fact
that it has mobility. If the mobility features enable
us to operate effectively, I do not think [we] will have
a big problem with going back to the simple [question
of] "JASDF" or "JGSDF."
Rather than the absolute number [of missiles] that
will be acquired, the difficult thing will be, instead,
in what manner they will be deployed, and how [we] will
train together [in their use].
Well--with regard to improvements in the standardiza-
tion of [combat] capabilities, this will be a discussion
unconnected with expenditures. However, among the
several primary factors which I discussed a while ago,
as a means of avoiding expenditure--because the budget
is severe--my current thinking on how to improve effi-
ciency is to try changing the training cycle.
What I mean by that is, until now [our] training has
[begun] about the time the cherry blossoms are in bloom
[April]; the training level gradually increased, and we
accomplished the most satisfactory [training] from late
autumn until early winter. For control and supervision
of [that process], [we] conducted large combat-team
evaluations; but if you think about it, the weather in
Japan during that period--stormy seas, heavy snows
falling in winter, and accumulations of ice complicating
matters, especially in Hokkaido--it is a period of low
probability for a large-unit amphibious landing.
In that sense, considering our primary defense
[mission], summer is militarily the most dangerous
[season]; so I think that from JFY-84, to conform with
this, [the JGSDF] will set (its) operational schedule
to shift the peak of training for all units into the
Since JFY-83 is already set according to the existing
schedule, we will commence with the [new] configuration
as soon as feasible; beginning next year, we will take
as our objective the complete transition of unit opera-
tions; we want to manage our unit operations so as to
adjust the period of the highest level of training
[readiness]. We can do this, because it will not take
too much out of our budget.
Akiyama: Will you be able to accomplish that just by
changing the training system? Personnel assignments
will have to be changed--
Watanabe: For the present, I think that we will manage well
enough just by changing the training system. I expect
that we will be conducting individual exercises begin-
ning in early autumn, and [we will be continuing] past
[the end of] the year; [we will] move the highest-level
exercises of the large units into the summertime.
Akiyama: Sufficiency of personnel--this is also an extremely
difficult problem, isn't it? I'm wondering if it isn't
impossible to achieve this [for the Northern Army] with-
out [personnel] rotation from Honshu units, in order to
provide 100% of requirements for the divisions in
Hokkaido? If that is the case, won't it be difficult
to achieve a balanced disposition of forces?
Watanabe: The present strength level is 86.33%, but 100% is
desirable. Because, in order to function the way the
system is designed, there must be 100%. If we could
get relief for even a little of our current personnel
shortfall, we would use those new personnel to complete
the manning of our essential units in Hokkaido.
There is no consideration being given to the idea of
bringing personnel to Hokkaido from mainland units.
That is because a concentration into one powerful front
would be accompanied by a great risk of excessively
weakening our other fronts, due to our passive and
Therefore, all units must possess a certain level of
If we take the example of the Soviet military--their
divisions have categories from I to III. It is similar
in other countries as well; but first, the Category I
divisions are completed manned with close to 100% of
personnel. Category II divisions have complete equip-
ment and about 75% of personnel. Category III divisions
have only a portion of their equipment and personnel.
Among these three, only Category I divisions are able
to fight a war immediately; however, because they have
many reserves, they can quickly take the Category II
divisions up to Category I.
If we were referring to our Self-Defense Force, we
would barely be Category II. Moreover, if resources
were taken to Hokkaido, the other units could end up
going down to Category III--to speak in terms of the
Soviet system. This would be a big drop in combat
And further, because the Soviet military has close to
25,000,000 reserve troops backing it up, it can commit
them if the situation requires; however, we have a Self-
Defense Reserve with no more than 40,000 troops at most.
Besides, even for that, we have no legal authority
for a major mobilization in the manner of the Soviet
Union. On that point, if we study emergency measures,
I think [we will find] that a requirement exists to
somehow maintain divisions which are uniformly capable
of combat operations.
For that reason, if the JGSDF as a whole were to
receive a 1% increase in manpower, the units located in
Hokkaido--the least-manned critical front, at present--
for example the 2d or 5th Division--their tank units,
rather than infantry or technical units, should be
brought up close to 100% strength.
Aiming at the Organization of Divisions with Uniform Combat
Akiyama: In the field of research and development, if we
could turn our eyes to that...
Watanabe: Among work that is now being conducted, important
items include such things as a ground-fired anti-ship
guided missile, a new tank, an armored personnel
carrier, a mid-range anti-tank guided missile, and a
new rapid-firing antiaircraft gun.
Akiyama: I think that the modernization and positioning of
weaponry and equipment is indivisible from operations;
is there a serious concern in the north? That is, will
the emphasis be on Hokkaido, as it is now?
Watanabe: It is unchanged.
It has not changed, but--to further illustrate what
I said before--we will not for that reason take the
approach that only units in Hokkaido should be heavily
structured, and that it is all right to lightly struc-
ture units on the mainland.
To elaborate, I believe that Hokkaido is a serious
concern for us; however, in a purely defensive situa-
tion, the offensive initiative will belong to the enemy.
Therefore, we will organize with uniform combat power so
that we can cope with the enemy wherever he may come.
Akiyama: For that reason, even in the JFY-56 mid-term
defense plan, there are a number of general expressions
referring to serious concern over the Northern Army,
but--there are problems with the reorganization of
divisions. In that regard, in the JFY-59 mid-term plan
and beyond, there will be provisions to take concrete
Watanabe: I am having those studies continued. I do not
know when it will be done; however, I think that we must
conduct that reorganization. Since our country's
divisions, if compared to the various divisions of all
the countries of the world, are remarkably inferior with
respect to firepower, our basic approach is that we want
to move toward a functional division, somehow increasing
But even in those cases, for example, there will be
no significant distinctions in combat power between the
divisions in Hokkaido and the mainland divisions.
Akiyama: To illustrate: if you are reorganizing the armored
division, in effect, publishing new policy--that is, a
reexamination of general principles is closely tied to
the subsequent readjustment of tables of organization.
Won't it be viewed in that way?
Watanabe: As for the JFY-56 mid-term plan, it would be
difficult to go that far. In the outline force list,
only the number of divisions is displayed, as "units
deployed in peacetime regions"; but I think it is
undeniable that those divisions, through modernization,
are becoming progressively better. This is essential
in order to accomplish our mission of responding
vigorously to other nations.
Akiyama: The other day, U.S. Army leaders went to Hokkaido,
and were making various statements. From that, and if,
the increasing number of various military exercises in
the Far East are considered together--not including
Valiant Blitz, however--isn't it accurate to say that
there is a gradual strengthening of the U.S. Army's
tendency to attach serious concern to Asia and the Far
Watanabe: I think it is better to say that U.S. Army policy
is basically unchanged. But it is certain that recogni-
tion is becoming extremely high of the criticality of
Japan, and above all Hokkaido, to the already increas-
ingly important Northeast Asia/Western Pacific area.
If the statements of former CINCPAC Admiral Long and
various other high-ranking commanders are taken
together, I would guess the most important reason for
the concern over Hokkaido is a refusal to permit the
Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk to be made into
Akiyama: Recently, sea lane defense has become a topic of
conversation; what is the role of the JGSDF in sea lane
and straits defense?
Watanabe: When speaking of sea lane defense, there is a
tendency to immediately restrict the discussion to the
defense of Japan's maritime shipping channels [on the
high seas]. However, if considered from a broader
perspective, the stability of resource-supply areas,
the ensured safety of shipping channels [for ships]
en route, and the preservation of [shipping] terminals
on the Japanese mainland--these conditions are
Therefore, because those circumstances which in
reality are necessary to bring about a defense of the
sea lanes, are in short a national defense emergency,
our country should probably make overall defense its
most important concern. Accomplishment of the defense
of our national territory--preserving the terminals is
also included in that mission--I think that is a funda-
mental issue of sea lane defense.
Also, the defense of the straits is the responsi-
bility of the JGSDF; but the most basic thing lies in
the preservation of the shoulders of the strait.
Because to that, solemnly and to the limits of our
existence, physically and mentally, we make an immense
One more role is the function of coastal observation.
Akiyama: I think that a ground-launched antiship missile
will be effective in straits defense; but when will
concrete operational plans be decided on, and approxi-
mately when will it actually become operationally
Watanabe: I think it will be about 1988.
Defense: Painstaking Perfection in Preparations
Akiyama: This has brought up the subject of former Prime
Minister Suzuki's direction to a former JDA Director,
Ito, to give primary consideration to air and maritime
defense--the air/sea "hedgehog" defense [in which sharp
barbs would prevent an enemy's reaching Japanese
territory]. Along the same line, Prime Minister
Nakasone also, when he was Director General of the JDA,
was arguing in favor of it in an earlier Diet session,
in connection with the 4th Defense Buildup Plan
[1972-76], which he managed. Among other things, I
recollect he declared his opinion that "I'm what you
call a Sea/Air Priority advocate." For that reason, it
seemed, he emphasized high-speed ships and missiles.
Basically, isn't he acting as a "hedgehog advocate" as
Prime Minister also? On the occasion of his American
visit in January, when he made the declaration that
"Japan is an unsinkable aircraft carrier," wasn't he
reinforcing that kind of consciousness?
Among Liberal Democratic Party members of the Diet
who are connected with national defense, too--moreover,
among people in general--sea lanes defense is given
extreme emphasis; the argument exists that a priority
concern for air and maritime defense is good, since
Japan is surrounded in 4 directions by the ocean.
Watanabe: If the "hedgehog" theory of defense would seize
upon the attitude that we will block an enemy invading
our country by not yielding even one step of our
nation's ground, and by then repulsing him--that
attitude would be exactly appropriate to the national
character of our country. That would be ideal.
However, to make provisions all around the circum-
ference of our country for a possible defense--that
would require a greatly expanded defense capability.
In economic terms also, I think that would be a much
greater economic burden.
Because national defense is the most fundamental
thing of all, I think it is extremely important that we
constantly, painstakingly try to do what is possible,
to see if we can bring this kind of ideal into reality.
One more aspect of national defense, I think, is
that we absolutely must not take chances. It is danger-
ous to entrust the safety of the country to limited
resources, and for national security we should be
devoting resources up to a limit of maybe 2, 3, or 4
times [what we are giving now].
I am repeating myself; but ground forces are the
ultimate source of security for the state. I am
convinced that to treat this fact lightly, is to be
Akiyama: If we look at the "1982-83 Strategy Outline"
released by England's Institute for International
Strategy Research, it says that personnel costs, as
a budgetary element for the British army, are increas-
ingly expensive; there were indications that in future,
their national defense will come to emphasize a maritime
and air defense.
Watanabe: In simple terms, Japan and Britain are both island
nations adjacent to a continent; however, their situa-
tions are entirely different. That point frequently is
not understood, I think.
As you know, Britain has a buffer zone of numerous
countries--West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and
France, separated by the English Channel; and Norway
and Denmark, separated by the North Sea. Therefore,
the first line of British defense is West Germany and
The main force of their active-duty ground units is
stationed in West Germany, especially, which is the most
important front. As is clear in British national
defense reports, the defense of Britain is--to name
it--a NATO collective defense. Because we have been
considering a defense posture with this as its
foundation, there are problems if we take Britain as
a single country, and compare its defense arrangements
with those of Japan.
In the case of Japan, a large buffer zone like that
of Britain does not exist. Consequently, any enemy
which invades Japan must be fought directly and
immediately, from the commencement of the invasion.
In this respect, Britain has a fundamental difference.
Even if we do not take up the example of the Falk-
lands conflict, just because we say that our country
is surrounded by the sea, an invader cannot make the
occupation and rule of our country an accomplished fact
through air and sea attacks alone. Ultimately, to make
an accomplished fact of the occupation and rule of our
country--which does have ground combat power--more is
To do that, as is clear from past military history,
the attacking side needs three times or more the
defending side's overall combat power, plus strong naval
and air support, and in order to sustain these forces,
greatly expanded supply and rear-area support.
Consequently the strengthening of ground forces, that
alone, demands military strength and preparations from
an adversary; this in turn is closely connected with
forcing him to give up ideas of an invasion. Unlike
Britain, which can consider a continental defense in
association with NATO's collective defense, in Japan's
case--since there is no time interval--the strengthen-
ing of our ground combat power, on a continuing basis,
is absolutely necessary.
Moreover, once this ground defense has been taken
into account, our chances of victory will depend on
"meticulousness of preparations." In particular,
compensating for numerical inferiority in combat power
by exploiting the military advantages of terrain is
extremely critical, to the point of determining success
or failure, in a defensive operation.
However, for us, with our "exclusive defense,"
whether there will be any margin for preparation in
carrying this out--this is completely uncertain.
Normally, if it were a critical place, pillboxes
would have to be built and similar preparations made
in order to obstruct a landing. In addition, these
defense actions would be complete at the outset.
In that respect, if there is no margin of time for
preparation, what can best be done to make up for it?
In the end, substitutes are needed: tanks, instead of
pillboxes, will come to have extreme importance; also,
instead of moveable, heavy guns in fortified positions,
self-propelled howitzers will be critical. For that,
the AH-1S helicopter also, which has maneuverability--
we can expect to gain from its rapidly responsive
In an extremity, these sorts of things will help to
offset the preparation-related problems. In that sense,
for us, such things as tanks, artillery firepower, and
the AH-1S in particular are extremely urgent issues.
No Uneasiness About the Next Generation of Leaders
Akiyama: Last year, for the first time, major generals were
promoted from among those officers who graduated in the
first class of the National Defense Academy. I think
from now on, the change of generations in the top
leadership level of the JSDF will proceed at a rapid
pace. As that occurs, a generation which has been
educated and brought up under the new Constitution will
come to occupy the key positions of the Self-Defense
Force. It is said that the officers of the JSDF have
become "salarymen." From now on, the JSDF--the "soft"
part; in other words, aspects of spirit, or conscious-
ness, things like that--in what ways will it come to
Then, since there are problems of civilian control
which are fundamentally related problems, in your
capacity as JGSDF Chief of Staff, what kind of knowledge
or recognition [do you think] is necessary to defeat
that kind of change in consciousness?
Watanabe: I have been observing them [the new major
generals] for a very long time, and I have absolutely
In the final analysis, things are different from the
military preparatory school and military academy which
raised us before the war; they entered the National
Defense Academy from postwar families, and received
their education in the cold environment of such
surroundings. In our time, we were warmly welcomed when
we entered the military academy; however, they entered
to a different kind of reception. Moreover, the things
we were taught there were things that could not be
learned at other schools. In fact, when I think of
those things, they were always expressed in terms of
the great standard measure of national security; we
received our education in the context of four years of
that kind of daily life.
In the system of values of today's world, it seems to
have become the man with money, and the man with high
status, who are considered impressive; but at the
National Defense Academy that kind of feeling is killed.
What comes from learning that to work with complete
dedication, for the benefit of the country, is truly
important--that is what has been promoted in these most
recent major generals. It is the feeling of flowers
finally blooming. Looking at them, it would take a rare
man to judge that he deserves to be first among them.
For this reason, the question of how Japan's defense
will fare, or perhaps how the field armies under me will
fare--the very first consideration is, how are the
divisions? For my generation this is the most important
thing, so it is something which they have acquired.
Then, one more thing: in a situation in which they
have been given a mission, no matter what, they accom-
plish it without complaint; this includes the kind of
things that are the work of my generation--even that
they can accomplish.
Current situations involving actual warfare are
designated; not just Japan, but various countries around
the world; and are being discussed. That is because a
great war is not being conducted anywhere. Also,
military history from the earliest days is being
studied. If we strengthen ourselves firmly by these
two sources, in the end we will be able to carry on
For example, tenacity toward accomplishment of the
mission--this kind of thing is acquired by a person from
his daily life; and even when such a person goes to the
battlefield, he is more capable of brave behavior than
experienced soldiers; because this has been actually
proven up to now, we do not have to worry, I think.
But they will become the leaders, and rather than
them, what we should be concerned about is the young
unit members. The way in which the new leaders guide
young unit members after they join--from now on, I
think that is an extremely big question.
That is, because the JSDF is in a sense a replica of
the general society, it is reasonable to expect that
things which exist in society will also exist in the
JSDF. For example, there are problems with stimulant
drugs and borrowing from loan sharks, and the drunken
driving problem; but how to deal skillfully with those
problems, that is, how to demonstrate leadership--the
way in which we forcefully involve ourselves in this
work is coming to be an important issue.
My greatest and most important object is to prevent
unit members--including National Defense Academy
graduates and the leaders of the next generation--from
Our job is to achieve the defense of our country with
our lives, in an emergency, because that is our ultimate
purpose. But once they have gradually become "salary-
men," when the moment of need arises, they will have
grown cowardly, and they will be useless for that
purpose. I am providing guidance and direction now, to
the utmost of my ability, so that such a thing does not
Akiyama: It is hardly necessary to say so, but "civilian
control" has become the dominant principle.
Watanabe: But I have confidence in that.
For example, things come out like the problem of a
planned coup d'etat--the prewar military was entangled
in it. To speak of the prewar military: my generation
also was brought up by the prewar military, but our
education concerning military officers was different
than it is now. We were taught that one by one, the
officers constituted the physical frame of the country.
Basically, "You fellows are the central pillars support-
ing the country"--it was in that way that we were
Because of that, as it is often said, there came to
be sporadic interference in politics.
Now, though, that is not the case. The place of
defense forces within the country has been precisely
fixed. After all, defense forces have come into exis-
tence for a single function, and above that, civilian
Therefore, for us, building strong units within
civilian control--that is, within the conditions
bestowed by the people of the country--we will be
building units which have the confidence of the people:
that is our ultimate objective.
So, if someone tried to create a political movement
within the present JSDF, he would be forced out; even
in the severe training of the daily routine, politics
must not take root.
In that regard, I am not worried.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun
15 April 1984
Translation: Joint Public Affairs Office, Headquarters,
U.S. Forces Japan
Combined Ground Forces Training
The JGSDF plans to hold substantial field training
exercises with the USMC twice in JFY 84 (Apr 1984--Mar 1985),
one in autumn and another in winter, as part of the Japan-
U.S. combined training exercises the JGSDF has been staging
with the U.S. Army since 1981. Each time, 100-200 personnel
from the two parties will participate in the exercises, both
of which are to be held in Hokkaido. The purpose is to
elevate the proficiency of the JGSDF. No practice on landing
operations which the USMC excels in will be staged. The
projected autumn exercise will be staged at the Yasubetsu
training grounds featuring firepower drills in which the two
parties practice efficient ways of striking the "enemy" with
tanks and field artillery on a job partition basis, while the
winter exercise is designed for general field drills in snowy
areas but place for the exercise is not decided yet. The
JGSDF hopes to develop combined training exercises with the
USMC regularly in the future for the following reasons:
(1) While the U.S. Army, Japan, has no combat troops, the
USMC maintains a big force of over 25,000 personnel in Japan,
available for combined training exercises with the JGSDF
sparing the trouble of bringing units from the States for the
exercises. (2) The Marines far excel Army members, who come
here from the States for combined training, in combat
capabilities and, therefore, help better the JGSDF enhance
its proficiency. (3) In case Japan takes joint actions with
the U.S. in time of emergency involving Japan, the JGSDF is
supposed to work together first with the USMC rather than
U.S. Army units coming from the States in aid.
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