November 10, 2022
TOKYO – The Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard plan to conduct a joint drill simulating an armed attack on the Senkaku Islands for the first time, according to government sources.
The joint MSDF-JCG exercise will be conducted before the end of the fiscal year as part of efforts to strengthen cooperation between the services. After the exercise, the government plans to compile guidelines on procedures and other matters concerning the JCG’s involvement in the event of an armed attack, the sources said.
The exercise is intended to ensure a seamless response between the MSDF and the JCG in waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture and elsewhere in the event of an emergency.
The government aims to enhance defense capabilities by significantly increasing the related budgets of the JCG and Self-Defense Forces. The government also plans to establish a cooperative framework between the services.
The JCG — an external bureau of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry — and the MSDF share surveillance information, but they have different systems of command.
The joint MSDF-JCG training exercises conducted so far have been limited to scenarios that do not involve an armed attack situation, such as maritime patrols in which the SDF is responsible for maintaining security.
However, the Liberal Democratic Party and others have stressed the need to conduct realistic drills in anticipation of an emergency.
According to the sources, the upcoming drill will involve the mobilization of an MSDF destroyer assuming an attack such as a missile launch by an enemy vessel during a separate stand-off between a JCG patrol vessel and a law enforcement unit of an enemy country.
The JCG is likely to provide logistical support in the event of an emergency, transporting evacuees and ensuring the safety of fishing boats and other civilian vessels.
Article 80 of the Self-Defense Forces Law states that the prime minister can bring the JCG under the control of the defense minister if the SDF is mobilized in the event of an armed attack. However, guidelines for such scenarios have yet to be formulated.
According to the sources, the government is considering compiling such guidelines amid a situation in which cooperation between the China Coast Guard and the military has been increasing.
In 2018, the CCG came under the command of the Armed Police Force, an organization under the direct control of the Central Military Commission, the Chinese military’s command organ.
CCG vessels that navigate in waters surrounding the Senkakus are backed up by Chinese Navy.
“It seems they’re taking all possible measures to prepare for a clash,” a senior SDF official said.