Type 99 Self-Propelled Howitzer. Via Globalsecurity.org.


This blog has been following Japan’s status as signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The short version: Japan agreed to do away with all cluster munitions in its inventory, and must be rid of them entirely within 8 years.

But how many does Japan have? Well, now we know the answer: 14,011.

The Ground Self-Defense Force possesses 12,263 cluster bombs, while the Air Self-Defense Force accounts for the remaining 1,748, the government paper said. The Maritime Self-Defense Force does not possess any cluster bombs.

Japan has ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which immediately bans signatories from using the bombs and requires them to dispose of their stockpiles in eight years.

The government will decide how to terminate the existing bombs after studying methods and costs, according to the paper, which was approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan in response to an inquiry from House of Councillors lawmaker Keiko Itokazu. (Link)

Well, there is one quick way to dispose of them: give them to the Americans, who will then use them to kill the Taliban. But my guess is that option may fly against the spirit of the Convention.

The number of cluster munitions in the GSDF’s inventory, more than 12,000, seems pretty high for a country that allegedly does not have large stocks of munitions lying around. This suggests that the number is for a variety of platforms, not just Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) as this blog originally suggested. Japan also uses 155mm and 203mm artillery, and many of these rounds could be ICM, or Improved Conventional Munitions, aka cluster munitions.

Expect this ban on cluster munitions to spur development of battlefield UAVs for the Self-Defense Forces, as well as guided artillery projectiles. This would have happened anyway, eventually, but the SDF will now need a greater ability to locate the enemy and call in precise fires to make up for the loss of cluster munitions.

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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