(Tokyo Shimbun: October 19, 2015 – p. 2)
The government began revising the codes of conduct concerning Self-Defense Forces’ units and their use of weapons to better perform their expanded roles following the enactment of the security legislation. It is also planning to review defense and security plans compiled by the SDF, and Japan-U.S. joint programs.
Rescue duty is expected to become SDF’s first mission in peacekeeping operations since their scope of activities are expanded under the security legislation. The SDF will be tasked with going to the aid of geographically-distant militaries or non-governmental organizations under armed attack. The government is considering adding this duty to missions performed by SDF personnel dispatched to South Sudan for PKO activities soon after the law becomes effective by the end of next March.
The government will also work on plans to rescue Japanese nationals when they are at great danger overseas. The SDF were banned from using weapons for the “purpose of carrying out missions,” but they will be required to do so when they face the task of performing “rescue duty” and “rescuing Japanese citizens.” The Ministry of Defense will develop new roles and standards concerning use of weapons and incorporate them into exercises that SDF units will perform.
The MOD will also work out specifics on joint surveillance operations conducted by Japan and the U.S. and SDF’s peacetime protection drills of a U.S. warship. With China flexing its maritime muscles in the South China Sea, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani spoke positively about joint monitoring operations between Japan and the U.S. in a TV program broadcast on October 14. “We need to have sufficient discussions on this, while closely looking into impacts on our security,” he said.
Japan and the U.S. will strengthen their partnership not only in military exercises but also in arms procurement. On October 1, the Japanese government launched the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency, an MOD external body, as a one-stop office to oversee arms exports and joint development projects with other countries.
Since the enactment of the law, Nakatani has been stressing the importance of “making thorough preparations to avoid acting in a hasty fashion.” “We have to spend ample time discussing the matter with extra caution,” he said. But the government has yet to set specific standards for the use of weapons, claiming that if they are clearly articulated, the SDF activities will be hampered. (Slightly abridged)