Change law to let Japan’s military do job in crisis, says outgoing general
The outgoing head of Japan's Ground Self-Defence Forces has called on the nation's politicians to implement legal changes that will permit the military to do its job when a crisis occurs.
General Eiji Kimizuka, the GSDF chief of staff, was speaking ahead of his retirement on Tuesday and his comments are seen as a rare expression of frustration in the military at the constraints it is required to work under.
Commenting on a promise made by the Liberal Democratic Party before the election for the Upper House of the Japanese parliament in July to reposition the SDF as a national defence force, Kimizuka said there was a need for its operational rules to be clarified.
"While we will leave the naming [of the new force] to public debate and politicians, we need to have a system that will permit the force to go into operation when given a task to which we must take a realistic approach," he said.
The general's comments coincide with the Japan coastguard requesting a substantial increase in its 2014 fiscal budget, which starts in April.
The coastguard, which has been involved in a cat-and-mouse game with Chinese maritime surveillance vessels and aircraft in waters surrounding the disputed Senkaku Islands, has requested an extra 20 billion yen (HK$1.6 billion) in its annual budget. That would bring the budget up to 196.3 billion yen.
The request will permit the coastguard to hire an additional 745 officers and deploy 12 patrol ships to waters around the islands, which China refers to as the Diaoyus, as a permanent security force. New port installations will also be constructed on Ishigaki, the closest Japanese island to the disputed territory.