Buried deep in an article by China’s Global Times is a single, curious line about the soon-to-be released defense report. The article quotes DPJ Parliamentary Vice Minister for Defense Akihisa Nagashima, commenting on the report.
Nagashima listed five core aspects of the new outline (including) transforming some of the Ground Self Defense Force into marines…(Link)
This mirrors a similar call earlier this year by a former LDP Minister of Defense to create a Japanese Marine Corps–for defensive purposes, of course. So, there you have Japan’s two largest political parties, the ruling DPJ and the #2 LDP, both calling for Japanese Marines. Critical mass on the issue seems to have been achieved.
The idea that the DPJ is soft on China is pretty much refuted by such a proposal. The conventional wisdom is that a Japanese Marine Corps would be a defensive Marine Corps. The JMC would take back Japanese territory (i.e., small islands on the periphery) that would have been conquered by a neighboring power. This blog doubts the Japanese political elites have Taiwan, or even South Korea in mind. That leaves…the 800 pound gorilla in the room. If the DPJ truly trusted China, it wouldn’t worry about having to retake islands from it. It doesn’t.
The creation of such a unit could have interesting implications. If Japan were to create an amphibious unit with expeditionary capability, the U.S. – Japanese alliance would not necessarily need the U.S. Marine Corps base at Futenma.
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch