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People's Daily Online

Japan green-lights MOD amendment to give uniformed SDF officers greater power

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 11:32, June 10, 2015

TOKYO, June 10 -- Japanese House of Councilors on Wednesday approved a Defense Ministry (MOD) related amendment, which will grant uniformed Self-Defense Forces (SDF) officers greater power.

Under the current MOD Establishment Law, the bureaucrats, often referred to as 'the suits', are perceived to have higher status than 'the uniforms'. The suits could assist the defense minister when the minister issues instructions to the Joint Staff Chief, the highest-rank 'uniform' personnel and the chief of each SDF arm.

However, under the amendment, the uniforms will be on equal footing in assisting the minister.

It is widely thought that the uniforms will be able to exert greater influence on the nation's political decisions concerning military matters by the revision. Moreover, it will also weaken civilian control over the SDF, making it difficult to hold the uniforms in check.

The amendment also abolishes the operation and planning bureau of MOD, placing its operational functions under centralized control of the Joint Staff, an organ mainly comprising SDF members.

The amendment has gained approval from the House of Representatives on May 15.

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