Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

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Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
陸上自衛隊 (Rikujō Jieitai)
Flag of JSDF.svg

Ground Staff Office
Northern Army
North Eastern Army
Eastern Army
Central Army
Western Army
Central Readiness Force
JGSDF Reserve
JGSDF Reserve Candidate

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF; Japanese: 陸上自衛隊; Rikujō Jieitai?), is the main branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the de facto army of Japan.

The largest of the three services of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is tasked with maintaining internal security in Japan and operates under the command of the chief of the ground staff, based in the city of Ichigaya, Tokyo. The present chief of the ground staff is General Eiji Kimizuka (Japanese: 君塚 栄治). The JGSDF numbered around 150,000 soldiers as of 2008.[1]

The JGSDF was created on July 1, 1954. Up until the end of the Cold War, its primary concern was maintaining internal security in Japan and countering a possible Soviet invasion of Hokkaido.


Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration in 1945, and, in compliance with Article 9, the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy were dismantled. Both were replaced by the United States Armed Forces occupation force, which assumed responsibility for the defense of Japan.

On the outbreak of the Korean War, many U.S. units were transferred to Korea, and Japan was perceived as lacking defenses. Encouraged by the American occupation authorities, in July 1950 the Japanese government authorized the establishment of a National Police Reserve, consisting of 75,000 men equipped with light infantry weapons.[citation needed] Under the terms of Japan's various peace treaties and the Mutual Security Assistance Pact (ratified in 1952), American forces stationed in Japan were responsible for confronting external aggression against Japan while Japanese forces, both ground and maritime, would deal with internal threats and natural disasters. Accordingly, in mid-1952 the National Police Reserve was expanded to 110,000 men and renamed the National Safety Forces.

Japan continued to improve its defensive capabilities. On July 1, 1954, the National Security Board was reorganized as the Defense Agency, and the National Security Force was reorganized afterwards as the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The enabling legislation for this was the 1954 Self-Defense Forces Act [Act No. 165 of 1954].

For a long period, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force possessed a dubious ability to hold off a Soviet invasion of Hokkaido. Zbigniew Brzezinski observed in 1972 that it seemed optimized to fight ‘a Soviet invasion conducted on American patterns of a quarter of a century ago.’[2] While the force is now an efficient army of 150,000,[1] its apparent importance had, until recently, seemingly declined with the end of the Cold War, and attempts to reorient the forces as a whole to new post Cold War missions have been tangled in a series of internal political disputes.


JGSDF Chief of Staff Eiji Kimizuka, speaks with a U.S. Marine officer aboard the USS Essex (LHD-2), in March 2011.
JGSDF Middle Army headquarters in Itami, Japan

Regionally the JGSDF is organised into five armies, the Northern Army, North Eastern Army, Eastern Army, Central Army, and Western Army.

Tactical organization[edit]

The GSDF consists of the following tactical units:

JGSDF divisions and brigades are combined arms units with infantry, armored, and artillery units, combat support units and logistical support units. They are regionally independent and permanent entities. The divisions strength varies from 7,000 to 9,000 personnel. The brigades are smaller with 3,000 to 4,000 personnel.

Special Forces[edit]

Special Forces units consist of the following:


The JGSDF has two reserve components: the rapid-reaction reserve component (即応予備自衛官制度) and the main reserve component (一般予備自衛官制度). Members of the rapid-reaction component train 30 days a year. Members of the main reserve train five days a year. As of December 2007, there were 8,425 members of the rapid-reaction reserve component and 22,404 members of the main reserve component.[3]

Operational Structure of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 2011


Ranks are listed with the lower rank at right.

Officer & Warrant Officer
Type A
JGSDF General insignia (a).svgJGSDF Lieutenant General insignia (a).svgJGSDF Major General insignia (a).svgJGSDF Colonel insignia (a).svgJGSDF Lieutenant Colonel insignia (a).svgJGSDF Major insignia (a).svgJGSDF Captain insignia (a).svgJGSDF First Lieutenant insignia (a).svgJGSDF Second Lieutenant insignia (a).svgJGSDF Warrant Officer insignia (a).svg
Type B
JGSDF General insignia (b).svgJGSDF Lieutenant General insignia (b).svgJGSDF Major General insignia (b).svgJGSDF Colonel insignia (b).svgJGSDF Lieutenant Colonel insignia (b).svgJGSDF Major insignia (b).svgJGSDF Captain insignia (b).svgJGSDF First Lieutenant insignia (b).svgJGSDF Second Lieutenant insignia (b).svgJGSDF Warrant Officer insignia (b).svg
JGSDF General insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Lieutenant General insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Major General insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Colonel insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Lieutenant Colonel insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Major insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Captain insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF First Lieutenant insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Second Lieutenant insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Warrant Officer insignia (miniature).svg
Type A
JGSDF Sergeant Major insignia (a).svgJGSDF Master Sergeant insignia (a).svgJGSDF Sergeant First Class insignia (a).svgJGSDF Sergeant insignia (a).svgJGSDF Leading Private insignia (a).svgJGSDF Private First Class insignia (a).svgJGSDF Private insignia (a).svg
Type B
JGSDF Sergeant Major insignia (b).svgJGSDF Master Sergeant insignia (b).svgJGSDF Sergeant First Class insignia (b).svgJGSDF Sergeant insignia (b).svgJGSDF Leading Private insignia (b).svgJGSDF Private First Class insignia (b).svgJGSDF Private insignia (b).svg
JGSDF Sergeant Major insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Master Sergeant insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Sergeant First Class insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Sergeant insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Leading Private insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Private First Class insignia (miniature).svgJGSDF Private insignia (miniature).svg

Regional organization[edit]

Disposition of JGSDF combat units


Other Units[edit]


JGSDF soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Regiment train with U.S. Army soldiers in a bilateral exercise at Fort Lewis' Leschi Town in October 2008.

In 1989, basic training for lower-secondary and upper-secondary academy graduates began in the training brigade and lasted approximately three months. Specialized enlisted and non-commissioned officer (NCO) candidate courses were available in branch schools and qualified NCOs could enter an eight-to-twelve-week officer candidate program. Senior NCOs and graduates of an eighty-week NCO pilot course were eligible to enter officer candidate schools, as were graduates of the National Defense Academy at Yokosuka and graduates of all four-year universities. Advanced technical, flight, medical and command and staff officer courses were also run by the JGSDF. Like the maritime and air forces, the JGSDF ran a youth cadet program offering technical training to lower-secondary school graduates below military age in return for a promise of enlistment.

Because of population density and urbanization on the Japanese islands, only limited areas are available for large-scale training, and, even in these areas, noise restrictions are extensive. The JGSDF has adapted to these conditions by conducting command post exercises, map maneuvers, investing in simulators and other training programs, as well as conducting live fire exercises overseas at locations such as the Yakima Training Center in the United States.

Current equipment[edit]


Type 1053built by Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesType10MBT.jpg
Type 90Type 90 first mod(90式戦車 初期生産型)

Type 90 mod kai (90式戦車 近代化改修型)

341built by Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesJapanese Type 90 Tank - 2.jpg
Type 74Type 74 mod E (74式戦車 E型)
Type 74 mod F (74式戦車 F型)

Type 74 mod G/Kai (74式戦車 G型/近代化改修型)

373-built by Mitsubishi Heavy IndustriesJGSDF Type74 tank 20120527-01.JPG

Infantry fighting vehicles[edit]

Type 89 Infantry Fighting Vehicle69 Built 120 orderedType89 FV.jpg

Self-propelled artillery[edit]

M110 howitzer91203mm Self-Propelled Howitzer M110A2.JPG
M270 MLRS99Multiple Launch Rocket System.jpg
Type 99 155 mm self-propelled howitzer105Yoka002.JPG

Towed artillery[edit]

FH-70492Howitzer FH70 03.jpg


Armored vehicles[edit]

Armored personnel carriers[edit]

Air defense vehicles[edit]

ATGMs and ASMs[edit]


Other vehicles[edit]

Small arms[edit]

Special Forces small arms[edit]


Future equipment[edit]

Aircraft inventory[edit]

The JGSDF operates 469 aircraft, including 458 helicopters.[11]

Bell UH-1Utility helicopterUH-1H
Built by FujiJGSDF UH-1J 20120520-01.JPG
UH-60 Black HawkTransport helicopterUH-60JA39 +Most built by MitsubishiJGSDF UH-60JA 20090822-02.JPG
Boeing CH-47 ChinookTransport helicopterCH-47J
Built by KawasakiCH-47JA 20090822 Yokota AFB-02.JPG
Bell AH-1 CobraAttack helicopterAH-1S90Built by FujiAH-1S Cobra.jpg
Boeing AH-64 ApacheAttack helicopterAH-64DJP11Built by FujiJGSDF AH-64D 20120108-01.JPG
Kawasaki OH-1Scout/Attack helicopterOH-138Under deliveryOH-1 JGSDF 20080518 4.jpg
MD Helicopters MD 500Scout helicopterOH-6D193Built by Kawasaki. Being slowly phased outHughes OH-6.jpg
Enstrom 480Trainer helicopterTH-480B2030 planned, Under delivery[12]G-LADD-Enstrom480.jpg
Eurocopter EC 225VIP helicopterEC 225LP3Replacing the AS332L[13][14]Eurocopter EC 225 JGSDF JG1021 20120108-2.JPG
Fuji FFOSUnmanned observation helicopter[15] Flying Forward Observation System. Primarily used as a forward observation platform for medium-range field artillery.[16]遠隔操縦観測システム 無人機.jpg
Beechcraft Super King AirUtility transportLR-26LR-2.JPG
Fuji FFRSUnmanned reconnaissance helicopterFlying Forward Reconnaissance System. Upgraded version of FFOS, for use by forward units.FFRS.JPG
Mitsubishi MU-2LiaisonLR-120LR-1.JPG
Boeing Insitu ScanEagleReconnaissance UAV1Delivered by Insitu Pacific[17]
Yamaha RMAXUnmanned observation helicopter[18]

Past equipment[edit]

Small arms[edit]



Anti-tank guided missiles[edit]

Anti-aircraft guns[edit]

Other armored fighting vehicles[edit]

Light and Utility Vehicles[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b IISS Military Balance 2008, Routledge, London, 2008, p.384
  2. ^ Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Fragile Blossom (Harper, 1972) p.95, in James H. Buck, ‘The Japanese Military in the 1980s,’ in James H. Buck (ed.), The Modern Japanese Military System, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills/London, 1975, p.220
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Category:JGSDF Type 82 (CCV) Wikimedia Commons
  5. ^ http://www.military-today.com/apc/type_87.htm
  6. ^ ARG. "Type 96 Armored Personnel Carrier". Military-Today.com. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  7. ^ http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/12%E5%BC%8F%E5%9C%B0%E5%AF%BE%E8%89%A6%E8%AA%98%E5%B0%8E%E5%BC%BE Japanese Wikipedia entry on the Type 12 SSM, Accessed 9th July 2013.
  8. ^ "TRDI Department of Guided Weapon Systems Development". Mod.go.jp. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  9. ^ "New Multipurpose Helicopter UH-X Ordered". Kawasaki Heavy Industries. March 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ Japan could be interested to purchase Oshkosh MRAP M-ATV or Bushmaster 4x4 armoured vehicles - Armyrecognition.com, 11 December 2013
  11. ^ "資料17 主要航空機の保有数・性能諸元". Clearing.mod.go.jp. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  12. ^ "Enstrom delivers first helicopter to JGSDF". Shephard Group. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  13. ^ "Eurocopter Canada - News 04/07/06". Eurocopter.ca. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  14. ^ EADS Press Release - Japan Defense Agency Received First EC225 In VIP Configuration For The Japanese Emperor’s Royal Flight Service[dead link]
  15. ^ "Fuji FFOS (Japan), Unmanned helicopters - Rotary-wing - Military". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  16. ^ GSDF Fuji School 57th Open Day 2011 [Part Two] Japan Security Watch, Aug 21, 2011
  17. ^ Insitu Pacific Delivers ScanEagle UAS for the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force - Insitu.com, May 14, 2013
  18. ^ "Yamaha RMAX (Japan), Unmanned helicopters - Rotary-wing - Civil". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  19. ^ a b Licensed by Howa.
  20. ^ Small number of M3s are held in reserve by various JGSDF special forces units.
  21. ^ Type 60 Armored Personnel Carrier (Military-Today.com)
  22. ^ The rise of the Land Cruiser (Go4x4.eu)
  23. ^ 2FQ-15 The Old Land Cruiser Company website
  24. ^ http://www.brian894x4.com/MilitaryFQ15.html Toyota FQ-10 / FQ-15 / HQ-15 (195?-196?), MILITARY TOYOTAS
  25. ^ Fuji LM-1 Nikko kamov.net


External links[edit]