Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
For the Imperial Japanese Army (1871–1947), please see that article.
For the Ministry of the Military (Ritsuryō) (701–1871), please see that article.
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 (陸上自衛隊 Rikujō Jieitai?), or JGSDF, is the army of Japan. The largest of the three services of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the Ground Self-Defense Force operates under the command of the chief of the ground staff, based in the city of Ichigaya, Tokyo. The present chief of ground staff is General Yoshifumi Hibako. The JGSDF numbers around 148,000[1] soldiers.



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

The National Security Board was created in 1952. The National Security Board oversaw police reserve forces, Maritime Guard and Maritime Safety Agency minesweeping corps, and were reorganized by the National Security Force. These changes were influenced by the Korean War.

The building of the defense ability advanced, and, on July 1, 1954, the National Security Board was reorganized by the Defense Agency, and the National Security Force and the garrison were reorganized afterwards by the Ground Self-Defense Force, the Marine Self Defense Force, the Air Self-Defense Force.

For a long period, the effectiveness of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to hold off a Soviet invasion of Hokkaido was in doubt, as 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 148,000,[1] its apparent importance has 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 Middle Army headquarters in Itami, Japan

Tactical organization

The GSDF consists of the following tactical units:

  • one armored division (7th),
  • eight infantry divisions, each with three or four battalion-sized infantry regiments,
  • five infantry brigades,
  • one airborne brigade,
  • four combined (training) brigades,
  • one training brigade,
  • one artillery brigade,
  • two air defense brigades,
  • four engineer brigades,
  • one helicopter brigade with twenty-four squadrons and two anti-tank helicopter platoons.

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

Special Forces

Special Forces units consist of the following:


The JGSDF has two reserve components: rapid-reaction reserve component (即応予備自衛官制度) and 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

Regional organization

Disposition of JGSDF combat units


Other Units

  • Other Units and Organizations
    • Material Control Command
    • Ground Research & Development Command
    • Signal Brigade
    • Military Police
    • Military Intelligence Command
    • Intelligence Security Command
    • Ground Staff College
    • Ground Officer Candidate School
    • Others


Soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Regiment of JGSDF training with American Soldiers in a bilateral exercise at Fort Lewis' Leschi Town.

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 four-year all 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 restrictive. 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


Infantry fighting vehicles

Self-propelled artillery

Towed artillery


Armored vehicles

Armored personnel carriers

  • Type 73 Armored Personnel Carrier (340)  Japan
  • Type 96 Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (322)  Japan [4]

Air defense vehicles

ATGMs and ASMs


Other vehicles

Small arms

Future equipment

  • NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle - Successor to the Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle and the Biological Reconnaissance Vehicle.[5]

Aircraft inventory

The JGSDF operates 469 aircraft, including 458 helicopters.[6]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States Utility transport LR-2 6
Bell UH-1  United States Utility helicopter UH-1H
146 Built by Fuji(118 UH-1J in service by April 2010)
Bell AH-1 Cobra  United States Attack helicopter AH-1S 84 Built by Fuji
Boeing AH-64 Apache  United States Attack helicopter AH-64DJP 10 Built by Fuji, 62 planned, further procurement cancelled
Boeing CH-47 Chinook  United States Transport helicopter CH-47J
54 Built by Kawasaki
Enstrom 480  United States Trainer helicopter TH-480B 1 30 planned, Under delivery[7]
Eurocopter EC 225  France VIP helicopter EC 225LP 3 Replacing the AS332L[8][9]
Fuji FFOS  Japan Unmanned observation helicopter [10]
Kawasaki OH-1  Japan Scout/Attack helicopter OH-1 34 Under delivery
MD Helicopters MD 500  Japan Scout helicopter OH-6D 111 Built by Kawasaki. Being slowly phased out
Mitsubishi MU-2  Japan Liaison LR-1 5
UH-60 Black Hawk  United States Transport helicopter UH-60JA 29 Built by Mitsubishi
Yamaha RMAX  Japan Unmanned observation helicopter [11]

Past equipment

Small arms



Anti-tank guided missiles

Anti-aircraft guns

Other armored fighting vehicles

  • Type 60 Armored Personnel Carrier  Japan
  • Type 60 Self-propelled 106 mm Recoilless Rifle  Japan

See also


  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. ^ ARG. "Type 96 Armored Personnel Carrier". Military-Today.com. http://www.military-today.com/apc/type_96_apc.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  5. ^ "TRDI Department of Guided Weapon Systems Development". Mod.go.jp. http://www.mod.go.jp/trdi/en/programs/ground/ground.html. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  6. ^ "資料17 主要航空機の保有数・性能諸元". Clearing.mod.go.jp. http://www.clearing.mod.go.jp/hakusho_data/2009/2009/html/ls229000.html. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  7. ^ "Enstrom delivers first helicopter to JGSDF". Shephard Group. http://www.shephard.co.uk/news/rotorhub/enstrom-delivers-first-helicopter-to-jgsdf/8562/. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  8. ^ "Eurocopter Canada - News 04/07/06". Eurocopter.ca. http://www.eurocopter.ca/asp/cmNews060407-2.asp. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  9. ^ EADS Press Release - Japan Defense Agency Received First EC225 In VIP Configuration For The Japanese Emperor’s Royal Flight Service[dead link]
  10. ^ "Fuji FFOS (Japan), Unmanned helicopters - Rotary-wing - Military". Jane's Information Group. http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Helicopter-Markets-and-Systems/Fuji-FFOS-Japan.html. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  11. ^ "Yamaha RMAX (Japan), Unmanned helicopters - Rotary-wing - Civil". Jane's Information Group. http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Helicopter-Markets-and-Systems/Yamaha-RMAX-Japan.html. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  12. ^ a b Licensed by Howa.
  13. ^ Small number of M3s are held in reserve by various JGSDF special forces units.


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