Japan’s Ministry of Defense is in the process of updating operational rules of engagement for the members of the Japanese Self-Forces (JSDF) deployed abroad, The Japan Times reports.
The revision of the JSDF’s operational code of conduct is a direct result of new security legislation recently passed by the Upper House of the Japanese Diet that includes the right to collective self-defense.
According to The Japan Times, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani held a committee meeting this Monday to discuss details and, among other things, initiate a new training plan to ensure JSDF personnel will be familiar with the new rules of engagement.
What is clear already is that the scope of JSDF operations abroad will widen significantly. For example, during UN peacekeeping operations, Japanese blue helmets will now be allowed to come to the rescue and support troops of other peacekeeping contingents and can engage in “normal” military security operations such as patrolling and vehicle inspections at checkpoints.
The legislation will come into effect in March. Its first practical application will in all likelihood occur in South Sudan, where Japan has dispatched around 350 soldiers who are engaged in engineering projects but also offer medical support to the local population.
New tasks could now include security protection of NGO workers, Red Cross staff, or other UN peacekeepers, The Japan Times notes. However, it seems unlikely that these new tasks will befall an engineering unit and Japan will have to likely dispatch a special infantry unit for those kinds of operations.
Based off the revised U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines, the new legislation now allows JSDF personnel to protect U.S. forces, including American naval ships and also permits logistical support of other nations engaged in fighting.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, special attention will be given to a new joint U.S.-Japanese action plan for the defense of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea claimed by China.
This plan could be based on an anti-access operational concept with Japanese characteristics. As I noted before (See: “This Is Japan’s Best Strategy to Defeat China at Sea”), an anti-access/anti-denial operational concept with Japanese characteristics would take into account Japan’s role as a gatekeeper to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
It would focus on exploiting of Japan’s maritime geographical advantage over China by skillfully deploying the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) along the Ryukyu Islands chain, bottling up the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in the East China Sea until the U.S. Navy and other allied navies could come to the rescue.