Ready or Not, Japan to Ease Rules on Foreign Intervention

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Japan Ministry of Defense

Members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force practice infantry tactics at a base in Japan.

TOKYO – Japanese leaders are preparing to ease a decades-long prohibition against the use of combat troops overseas. That’s one result of last week’s terrorist raid in Algeria, in which at least nine Japanese citizens were killed.

But it will take much more than a change in legal statutes before Japanese self-defense forces – capable though they may be – are ready to intervene in a terrorist or military incident far from home.

“The fundamental ability of Japanese troops is good. But their skills are not necessarily the best for these kinds of missions,” says Garren Mulloy, an associate professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Daito Bunka University, who has studied the Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF).

About 4,500 soldiers are assigned to the JSDF’s Central Readiness Force (CRF), which has primary responsibility for responding to terrorist attacks or military emergencies. The unit includes paratroopers, Rangers and some 300 Special Forces soldiers. The latter receive training from the U.S. Army’s elite Green Berets and Delta Force commandos.

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Though well-trained and well-equipped, the CRF troops are geared primarily for fighting a conventional war, on Japanese home soil, says Mulloy. That’s far different from, say, rescuing hostages in the Algerian desert or defending a compound in downtown Mogadishu.

“One of the things that politicians don’t understand — and many military leaders, as well — is the extraordinary complexity of any hostage-type situation, and the constrained, inter-agency environment in which (Japanese) forces would be required to operate. It requires different skills and a very different mind set,” says Mulloy, a former British Army officer who has worked with special forces units from several countries.

The raid at the In Amenas gas plant, one of the worst terrorist attacks in years, came as a shock in Japan, which even today remains largely insulated from such incidents. Nine Japanese workers were executed by terrorists, or killed during a rescue attempt by Algerian forces; one is still listed as missing. Seven others survived. Altogether, 38 workers from nine countries were killed.

Japan’s newly elected government was criticized for not doing enough to protect its citizens, monitor their condition or bring the victims and survivors home quickly.

But the criticism seems hardly fair. Japan’s pacifist Constitution and strict Self Defense Forces Law severely limit what JSDF troops are allowed to do overseas. The CRF, for example, is tasked with evacuating Japanese citizens in natural disasters, armed conflicts or other emergencies; but they may do so only by air or sea – not by land – and only if there is no risk that the troops themselves could be drawn into conflict.  Should trouble arise, the troops may use weapons only in self-defense. Mount an armed rescue of Japanese citizens? Out of the question.

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The conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which returned to power in a landslide vote last month, plans to introduce a bill in the national Diet as early as Monday that would ease some of those restrictions. It seems likely to pass. For the first time since World War II, Japanese ground troops would be authorized to use force to protect the safety and well-being of Japanese citizens overseas.

Those changes are overdue, says Tetsuo Kotani, a national security specialist with the Japan Institute of International Affairs, in Tokyo.

“A nation’s first responsibility is to protect its citizens. So we have to increase our capability to do that. We have to expect that similar cases (to the Algeria attack) can happen at any time. If the law is changed, (troops) could be dispatched wherever they are needed,” says Kotani.

Though Japanese troops have taken part in U.N. peacekeeping missions since the mid-1990s, they too have been largely restricted from using force.  Japan withdrew its contingent from the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights last month lest they come under fire from the growing unrest in neighboring Syria.

Though Japan’s supposed swing to the right has been largely overstated, opinion polls show that public acceptance of the military has increased in recent years. That’s due in large part to increasing tensions with China and the JSDF’s swift response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. More than 100,000 troops deployed to search for victims and aid survivors, and CRF helicopters famously – if futilely – battled the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, dowsing the crippled power plant with buckets of seawater.

(MORE: Support For Japan’s Military Reaches Post-War High)

Along with changing the Self Defense Force Law, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to revise or reinterpret the Constitution to make it easier to use the JSDF in other contingencies. He has also proposed a modest increase in defense spending – 2.6 percent – for next year.

Mulloy says it wouldn’t cost much to begin training the JSDF for rescue missions overseas, but it would require a significant change in mindset. Troops would have to be trained for fluency in a variety of languages – English and Arabic are just a start – and learn to operate with foreign militaries, intelligence services and police forces.

“You don’t actually need a huge increase in budget or size,” Mulloy says. “But what you need is a concentration of specialists, and to train very intensely in a variety of very specific scenarios. If you are doing an extraction in an urban area, how do you get your people in and out of a heavily populated area with traffic jams? What if you have casualties? Do you use civilian vehicles or military vehicles?  What’s the legal situation? If you are dealing with a desert scenario like Algeria, it’s something very different. How do you deal with the local military? Where is the nearest airport? Can you get helicopters in?  If you take your own helicopters into a desert environment, are they equipped with dust filters? It’s all very simple stuff, but you have to understand what questions you have to ask even before you start.”


The bigger question is, does the bill being introduced strip away and/or modify the human rights and democratic values provided by the current Japanese constitution? Does it give the cabinet emergency powers to override everything else? Does it greatly regulate what a Japanese citizen can express in public? These changes if they do exist in the bill have far greater ramifications than letting their troops stage a rescue operation overseas.


Japan WWII horrific crimes by 731 Unit never was prosecuted!  Japan never apologized,  We demand apology from Japanese Emperor for what 731 unit had done!

below is info from wikipedia!

In 1932, General Shirō Ishii (石井四郎 Ishii Shirō), chief medical officer of the Japanese Army and protégé of Army Minister Sadao Araki was placed in command of the Army Epidemic Prevention Research Laboratory. Ishii organized a secret research group, the "Tōgō Unit", for the conduct of various chemical and biological investigations in Manchuria. Ishii had proposed the creation of a Japanese biological and chemical research unit in 1930, after a two-year study trip abroad, on the grounds that Western powers were developing their own programs. One of Ishii´s main supporters inside the army was Colonel Chikahiko Koizumi, who later became Japan's Health Minister from 1941 to 1945. Koizumi had joined a secret poison gas research committee back in 1915, during World War I, when he and other Japanese army officers were impressed by the successful German use of chlorine gas at the second battle of Ypres, where the Allies suffered 15,000 casualties as a result of the chemical attack.[11]

A special project code-named Maruta used human beings for experiments. Test subjects were gathered from the surrounding population and were sometimes referred to euphemistically as "logs" (丸太 maruta?).[1] This term originated as a joke on the part of the staff because the official cover story for the facility given to the local authorities was that it was a lumber mill.[1] In an account by a man who worked as a "junior uniformed civilian employee" of the Japanese Army in Unit 731, the term Maruta came from German, meaning medical experiment, used in such contexts as, "How many logs fell?"[15]

The test subjects were selected to give a wide cross section of the population and included common criminals, captured bandits and anti-Japanese partisans, political prisoners, and also people rounded up by the Kempetai for alleged "suspicious activities". They included infants, the elderly, and pregnant women.


Prisoners of war were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia.[1][16] Vivisections were performed on prisoners after infecting them with various diseases. Scientists performed invasive surgery on prisoners, removing organs to study the effects of disease on the human body. These were conducted while the patients were alive because it was feared that the decomposition process would affect the results.[1][17] The infected and vivisected prisoners included men, women, children, and infants.[18]

Prisoners had limbs amputated in order to study blood loss.[1] Those limbs that were removed were sometimes re-attached to the opposite sides of the body.[1] Some prisoners' limbs were frozen and amputated, while others had limbs frozen then thawed to study the effects of the resultant untreated gangrene and rotting.

Some prisoners had their stomachs surgically removed and the esophagus reattached to the intestines.[1] Parts of the brain, lungs, liver, etc. were removed from some prisoners.[1][16][19]

In 2007, the Japanese army surgeon Ken Yuasa testified to the Japan Times that, "I was afraid during my first vivisection, but the second time around, it was much easier. By the third time, I was willing to do it." He believes at least 1,000 people, including surgeons, were involved in vivisections over mainland China.[20]

[edit]Germ warfare attacks

Prisoners were injected with inoculations of disease, disguised as vaccinations, to study their effects.[1] To study the effects of untreated venereal diseases, male and female prisoners were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhea, then studied.[1] Prisoners were infested with fleas in order to acquire large quantities of disease-carrying fleas for the purposes of studying the viability of germ warfare[citation needed].

Plague fleas, infected clothing, and infected supplies encased in bombs were dropped on various targets. The resulting cholera, anthrax, and plague were estimated to have killed around 400,000 Chinese civilians.[1] Tularemia was tested on Chinese civilians.[21]

Unit 731 and its affiliated units (Unit 1644, Unit 100 et cetera) were involved in research, development, and experimental deployment of epidemic-creating biowarfare weapons in assaults against the Chinese populace (both civilian and military) throughout World War II. Plague-infested fleas, bred in the laboratories of Unit 731 and Unit 1644, were spread by low-flying airplanes upon Chinese cities, coastal Ningbo in 1940, and Changde, Hunan Province, in 1941. This military aerial spraying killed thousands of people with bubonic plagueepidemics.[22]

[edit]Weapons testing

Human targets were used to test grenades positioned at various distances and in different positions. Flame throwers were tested on humans. Humans were tied to stakes and used as targets to test germ-releasing bombs, chemical weapons, and explosive bombs.[23][24]

[edit]Other experiments

In other tests, subjects were deprived of food and water to determine the length of time until death; placed into high-pressure chambers until death; experimented upon to determine the relationship between temperature, burns, and human survival; placed into centrifuges and spun until death; injected with animal blood; exposed to lethal doses of x-rays; subjected to various chemical weapons inside gas chambers; injected with sea water to determine if it could be a substitute for saline; and burned or buried alive.[25]

Destruction of evidence

With the Russian invasion of Manchukuo and Mengjiang in August 1945, the unit had to abandon their work in haste. The members and their families fled to Japan.

Ishii ordered every member of the group "to take the secret to the grave", threatening to find them if they failed, and prohibiting any of them from going into public work back in Japan. Potassium cyanide vials were issued for use in the event that the remaining personnel were captured.[1]

Skeleton crews of Ishii's Japanese troops blew the compound up in the final days of the war to destroy evidence of their activities, but most were so well constructed that they survived somewhat intact.

[edit]American grant of immunity

After Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, Douglas MacArthur became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, rebuilding Japan during the Allied occupation. MacArthur secretly granted immunity to the physicians of Unit 731 in exchange for providing America, but not the other wartime allies, with their research on biological warfare.[10] American occupation authorities monitored the activities of former unit members, including reading and censoring their mail.[33] The U.S. believed that the research data was valuable. The U.S. did not want other nations, particularly the Soviet Union, to acquire data on biological weapons.[34]

The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal heard only one reference to Japanese experiments with "poisonous serums" on Chinese civilians. This took place in August 1946 and was instigated by David Sutton, assistant to the Chinese prosecutor. The Japanese defense counselor argued that the claim was vague and uncorroborated and it was dismissed by the tribunal president, Sir William Webb, for lack of evidence. The subject was not pursued further by Sutton, who was likely aware of Unit 731's activities. His reference to it at the trial is believed to have been accidental.


Japan would send troops to Africa to rescue Japanese hostages? I don't think so. Move along, nothing to see here.


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