09 August 2017

News Story: Boost to SDF services' operational integration eyed amid altered security environment

The government will set a new medium-term plan to integrate the operations of Japan's Air, Ground and Maritime Self-Defense forces as early as next year, a government-related source told the Mainichi Shimbun on Aug. 6.

At the core of the plan will be strengthening Japan's ability to defend its far-flung island territories, and ballistic missile defense. The move to better integrate the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will coincide with the coming revamp of the National Defense Program Guidelines and formulation of the Medium Term Defense Program.

The Joint Staff, which has overall control of SDF operations, draws up an operational program every fiscal year with the aim of unifying command of the forces. However, there has never been a medium-term plan to integrate the services.

With China flexing its muscles on the seas and North Korea continuing its ballistic missile development pace, and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump demanding its allies pick up more of the defense burden, the security environment around Japan has changed significantly. This had spurred calls to create a services integration plan with a longer-term view to coincide with the regular medium-term equipment procurement and force structure revisions.