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2008年8月18日 (月)


(Aug. 18, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Review fund allocation among SDF branches

防衛大綱改定 陸海空の予算配分を見直せ(818日付・読売社説)

To make the Self-Defense Forces a "functioning organization," it is essential to review how funding is allocated among the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces, given that the budget share for each has been almost fixed for many years.


The government's planned revision at the end of next year of the National Defense Program Outline, which stipulates basic guidelines for security policy, will provide a good opportunity for such a review. The government should set up an expert panel at an early date to kick-start fundamental discussions on defining the course of the SDF for the next 10 years.


The way the SDF's funds have been budgeted among the three branches over the last 20 years was almost fixed, with the GSDF receiving 41-45 percent of the money, the MSDF 27-29 percent and the ASDF 26-31 percent.


During the Cold War, the SDF pushed ahead with the formation of GSDF, MSDF and ASDF units and the procurement of key weaponry mainly to counter a possible landing and invasion of Soviet troops. Within this context, four GSDF divisions were deployed in Hokkaido and tanks and artillery were regarded as important weaponry.


After the Cold War, the National Defense Program Outline was revised twice--in 1995 and 2004--to deal with a change in the nation's security situation--namely the elimination of threats posed by the Soviet Union and the emergence of new threats, such as terrorism and missiles.



Shifting needs

The two revisions of the defense outline promoted the streamlining of units and reduction of weapons, but stopped short of redistributing funding among the three SDF branches. Sectionalism between the branches as well as protectionist movements among officials of each branch wanting to keep their organization intact reportedly served as obstacles to changing the budget distribution.


Japan's defense budget has been slightly reduced, standing now at 4.78 trillion yen per year. To use the limited budget effectively, redistribution of funds among the three branches is unavoidable.


It is not reasonable to allocate money among the three branches in almost the same way as during the Cold War years. For now, it is advisable to discuss reducing the GSDF budget, while increasing the MSDF and ASDF budgets.


Under the current defense outline, the GSDF was reduced to 155,000 troops and the numbers of tanks and artillery pieces were each reduced to 600.



Further change required


Further reductions must be discussed, however. And a reduction in the size of the GSDF means the reorganization and streamlining of units, including integration of some of the 157 GSDF camps across the nation.


On the other hand, the GSDF's antiterrorism measures and international peacekeeping activities should be expanded and strengthened.


The collision earlier this year between an Aegis-equipped destroyer and a fishing boat served to underscore a chronic shortage of seagoing personnel in the MSDF. It may merit consideration to increase the size of the MSDF.


The ASDF's transport role in international missions, such as the airlifting of goods and personnel to Iraq, has increased in significance. It is an urgent task to introduce next generation transport planes as soon as possible and strengthen the C-130 transport plane unit.


One major stated task in reforming the Defense Ministry is the unification of divisions responsible for procurement in internal bureaus of the ministry and each of the SDF staff offices into a single entity. If these divisions are unified, it will weed out sectionalism, making it easier to change the distribution of SDF funds, according to those pushing such ministry reforms.


If that is one of the purposes of ministry reform, it is all the more reasonable to directly tackle the redistribution of SDF funds than the organizational reform.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 18, 2008)

20088180149  読売新聞)


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