JMSDF (Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force)
Japan is an island country surrounded by
water. This means that the threat to Japan always comes from the sea. Japan
also relies heavily on other countries for the supply of natural resources
that are indispensable to national existence. Over 90 percent of
imports are transported through sea routes. Taking into account the factors
of geographical and economic features, the main mission of Japanese Maritime
Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is to defend the island country from a maritime
invasion and to secure the safety of maritime traffic around Japan.
In order to defend Japan from the maritime
invasion and to secure the safety of maritime traffic around Japan, the
JMSDF conducts various kinds of operations. Operations include: patrol,
escort, and defense of key ports and straits, with its 130 ships and 200
aircraft. The self-defense Fleet takes charge of overall maritime operations
around Japan, and each Regional District force conducts maritime operations
and logistic support, in each assigned area in close cooperation with the
self-defense Fleet. Amphibious assault, missile attack by submarines or
aircraft, laying mines and attack by surface ships can be considered a
direct attack against Japan and the interference of its maritime traffic,
the JMSDF executes Anti Submarine, Anti Air, Anti Surface, Mine Laying
and other operations depending on the threat.
A series of operations that range from
searching to sinking submarines is called Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW).
The modern submarines’ improved capabilities in performances, quietness,
offensiveness, as well as detecting nuclear submarines, which are semi-permanently
submergible, bring further threat to the security of maritime traffic to
Japan. To cope with these circumstances, the JMSDF has steadily focused
on modernizing its weaponry and improving the skills of crew involved in
ASW, engaging in its mission with full morale.
The object of Anti Air Warfare (AAW) is
defending surface groups and ships against an attack from the air. Flight
performances and offensive capability of aircraft have remarkably improved
in recent years, and most of the surface ships and submarines of the Japanese
defense force mount Anti Surface missiles. In today’s world, a threat from
the air against surface ships has become extremely dangerous and complicated.
Accordingly, in terms of AAW, it is necessary
to form the multi-layered air defense system composed of the guns and missiles
as well as to avoid missile attack through electronic counter measures.
To improve these AAW capabilities, the JMSDF has embarked on introduction
of the new Aegis (guided missile frigates) type escort ships since 1988.
Recently, surface ships have tended to
mount long range SSMs (Surface to Surface Missile), and ship’s tactics
are shifting from exchanging fire by guns to launching SSMs from a distance.
Offensive capabilities against the surface forces are vital to attack hostile
ships that intend to assault Japan, to defend our vessels from the attack
of enemy ships mounting SSM, and to secure the safety of maritime traffic
Mine Warfare is divided into Mine Countermeasure
Operation; which aims at removing mines laid by enemies, and Mining Operation;
which aims at laying mines to protect Japan from an enemy’s landing invasion
and coastal defense. The JMSDF’s capability of Mine Countermeasure Operation
is highly ranked among the leading countries as a result of its actual
disposing mines at the end of the Pacific War, and still more making efforts
to improve its capability coping with the highly advanced mines. The Overseas
Minesweeper Force, dispatched to the Persian Gulf in 1991, achieved brilliant
success under the harsh natural environment, and was highly evaluated at
home and abroad. In order to deter landing inroad and passing through the
channel by enemy forces, the mining operation is also conducted on the
occasion of making minefields on the shore or key channel where enemy landing
invasions will be expected.
The JMSDF has removed numerous mines laid
in Japanese waters and ports during the World War II and is still engaged
in minesweeping operations which are active to this very day.
Electronic Warfare is defined as operations
to detect and make reverse use of the enemy’s magnetic waves while detecting
the enemy and securing Japan’s effective use of magnetic waves for itself.
In Electronic Warfare, there are three measures. First is electronic support
measure (ESM), which are ships equipped with the ability of electronic
detection and missile alarm systems. The second measure is that of electronic
counter measure (ECM), which are ships equipped with electronic jamming
and chaff rocket launcher systems. The third measure is electronic counter-counter
measure (ECCM), which are surface ships equipped with various radar equipment
capable of avoiding the enemy’s own electronic countermeasure.
For Japan, based on its exclusively defense-oriented
policy, it is extremely important to carry out constant surveillance over
Japanese territory and its surrounding airspace and waters. The JMSDF carries
out constant warning and surveillance operations over vessels moving in
the waters surrounding Japan, through patrol aircraft and vessels, and
engages in collecting information on movements and the types of equipment
carried by foreign vessels.
In case of emergency, transporting the
SDF personnel, equipment, and materials to the shore in the operational
area and outlying islands is one of the most important missions of the
JMSDF. The JMSDF Landing Ships broadly contribute to the stability of the
national life through rescuing refugees resided in outlying islands and
ferrying goods to the site on the occasion of a disaster. Landing ships
were dispatched to Cambodia to support the Engineer Battalion of Japan
Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations.
In case of emergency, it is important to
search and rescue the crew of aircraft or submarines in distress from the
viewpoint of respecting for their lives and maintaining their morale. The
JMSDF possesses a rescue amphibian ship, US-1A, for the maritime rescue
operations, rescue helos for the aerial rescue in the vicinity of the air
base and submarine rescue vessel for rescuing submarines.
In order to complete the JMSDF’s mission
through handling modern equipment, superb knowledge and skills on the basis
of strong physical strength and strong teamwork on the basis of mutual
trust are necessary. The JMSDF’s educational system aims at acquiring knowledge
and skills willingly, training mind and body, and mastering seamanship.
Additionally it shoulders a broad part of responsibility to foster the
well-balanced persons to be talented with ranging from basic mental attitude
as servicemen and servicewomen of the JMSDF, the ability to operate languages
to obtaining various qualifications.
The skills for navigation, flight, and
operating weapons to execute its missions are called “Service” in the JMSDF
Service education and training are implemented at the 1st to 4th Service
Schools. Furthermore, JMSDF training is conducted in the cycle of training
periods. A training period, involving rotation of crew, overhaul, and repair
of vessels, is divided into a few phases to upgrade operational proficiency
stage by stage. The JMSDF conducts an Annual Exercise every autumn with
the participation of most of its vessels and aircraft.
Cooperation with U.S. Forces
Under the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements,
Japan’s Self Defense Force is to conduct a number of cooperative operations
with the U.S. Forces in case of an emergency. The JMSDF usually conducts
the Japan-U.S. combined exercise not only to promote closer communication
and to keep harmonious relations between the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF, but
also to improve the level of tactical skill. In addition, every year, the
JMSDF dispatches its escort ships, submarines, and ASW aircraft to the
United States to brush up its proficiency through making use of the US
Navy’s training installations.
Contribution to Society
The JMSDF dispatches its personnel to
relief work in close contact with the authorities concerned to protect
human life and individual property when there are natural disasters
such as typhoons, torrential rain, earthquakes, rescue of people, ships
and aircraft in distress, emergency transportation of patients, and relief
supplies. Especially, with respect to rescuing ships and aircraft in distress,
a certain number of rescue ships and aircraft are constantly standing by
ready to go immediately from the naval and air base. Therefore, the JMSDF
can quickly respond to carry out its air transportation of emergency patients
from outlying islands, isolated areas, or the ships on the ocean.
The JMSDF has cooperated in Japan’s Antarctic
region observation since 1965. Today, the JDS (Japanese Defense Ship) icebreaker
SHIRASE has embarked helicopters in service transporting observation personnel,
materials and provisions between Japan and Japan’s Showa base in the Antarctic.
The JMSDF has conducted an aerial observation
of the ice floes by its aircraft every year since 1957. The observation
covers the sea area off the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, the Straits of
Nemuro and the southeastern sea area of Kushiro through P-3C (Reconnaissance
aircraft) for five months from the end of December to the middle of May
every year. The outcomes of observations are reported speedily to each
section involved in meteorological authorities and therefore, it greatly
contributes to preventing human life from disaster.
The JMSDF has cooperated in aerial surveys
for drawing maps at the request of the Geography Survey Institute of the
Ministry of Construction since 1960. The surveyors get on the JMSDF’s aircraft,
UC-90 (Reconnaissance aircraft) to make a survey from the aircraft.
The JMSDF conducts a variety of public
relations activities to inform the people of the JMSDF’s present status.
These activities are aimed at increasing the people’s understanding of
and interest in the JMSDF through conducting musical concerts performed
by the SDF bands, experience of voyage and flights, and participation in
Japan is a country that is surrounded by
the vast expanse of the sea. It is imperative that the JMSDF keeps a sharp
eye out on it’s neighbors. Today, Japan is receiving a great deal of attention
not only form the United States, who wish goodwill to Japan, but also China,
which in the past few years has shot a few missiles very close to Japan’s
coast. The U.S. Navy quickly responded to China’s threats. However, questions
were raised. Will the world’s next hot spot be in Japan due to an act of
Chinese aggression? Maybe. Know this, because of the high proficiency
of the JMSDF, the threat to Japan, and her territories, is significantly