Defense Ministry Eyes Massive Military Build-Up in Okinawa Prefecture

Monday, September 20, 2010


Tokyo -- The Defense Ministry leaked to the Japanese media today that it is mulling a major build-up of GSDF troops in Okinawa Prefecture. The notion is that the 2,000 GSDF troops currently deployed in the southernmost prefecture would be boosted by a factor of ten to 20,000 by the year 2020.

The Defense Ministry apparently indicated to Japanese reporters that the "defense of the Senkaku Islands" against the claims of China and Taiwan form the main justification for the projected build-up.

The Defense Ministry also wants to expand the authorized overall strength of the GSDF from the current 155,000 personnel to 168,000. If realized, this would be the first expansion in the authorized size of the GSDF since 1972.

However, the actual size of the current GSDF is about 140,000 personnel, well below its approved strength.

The Defense Ministry's decision to leak these ideas to the Japanese media at this particular juncture suggests that they wish to capitalize on the immediate Japan-China diplomatic crisis in order to push their budget requests through a Diet that has been much more focused on paring back government expenditures.

Another point to keep an eye on is that Japan and the United States have previously been planning to hold a large joint military exercise in December which will be based on the premise that hostile forces have captured a remote Japanese island and that the American forces and SDF are tasked with retaking it.

The military exercise has been considered politically controversial since it was first revealed, but in light of the ongoing crisis it will no doubt be seen in an even more provocative light if it occurs as scheduled, especially if Tokyo and Beijing cannot, in the interval, find an escape from their current confrontation.

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