GSDF troops building ice sculpture. Creative Commons photo, Flckr user MJTR.

According to Kyodo, the GSDF may see a 9% increase in troop strength, going from 155,000 to 168,000.

The plan may be incorporated in a new national defense program to be implemented in the fiscal year ending March 2012, Kyodo said, citing unnamed people in the ministry and the Self- Defense Forces. (Link)

Where is the money to fund this expansion coming from? And why the Ground Self Defense Forces? Why not add more ships to the MSDF, or planes to the ASDF? The GSDF is the service least likely to engage in combat. When a potential adversary looks at the Japanese defense forces and decides, “No, that’s going to be too hard,” it’s not the GSDF that deters them, it’s the Air and Maritime Self Defense Forces.

Comparison purposes (active duty strength only):

Chinese Army: 2,225,000

North Korean People’s Army: 1,106,000

United States Army: 480,000

Russian Army: 321,000

Brazilian Army: 235,000

Japanese Army: 155,000

British Army: 113,000

Update #1: reader Thomas at The Blirg writes in with numbers for the Swiss Army:

Switzerland: 135,000 (+77,000 reserves)

Update #2: This is apparently the original Kyodo article, and spells it all out a bit better.

The plan would also run counter to efforts by other major countries to reduce ground forces and place more emphasis on naval and air forces to prevent enemy invasions.

The ministry is considering the matter in response to a request from the Ground Staff Office, which believes that an increase in GSDF personnel is necessary to reinforce the defense of southwestern Japanese islands as the Chinese Navy becomes more active in the area, the sources said.

The idea is linked to the GSDF’s plan to increase troop deployments to islands in Okinawa Prefecture — where defensive readiness is considered weak — to deal with contingencies related to the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

The current GSDF deployment on Okinawa Island itself involves around 2,000 personnel, but there are initiatives calling for 20,000 troops to be deployed in the area, including smaller islands, by 2020, according to the sources. (Link)

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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 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch