ASDF C-130 transport unloads cargo at Matsushima Air Base. ASDF photo.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said today that the MoD is planning on reducing the presence of the Air and Maritime Self Defense Forces in the earthquake-affected area.

“The MSDF and ASDF will have to return to their original roles in intelligence-gathering and surveillance as the need for them to transport supplies and rescue people is slightly changing,” Kitazawa told a news conference.

But regarding the Ground Self-Defense Force troops engaged in providing support to the victims and searching for missing people, Kitazawa said, “I will not let disaster-hit victims lose the sense of security provided by having uniformed SDF personnel near them.”

The Self-Defense Forces have been spearheading the earthquake relief effort, operating at their highest tempo ever. The ASDF committed 21,600 of 45,000 total ADSF personnel and 481 of 805 aircraft to the effort. The MSDF committed 14,100 of 46,000 total MSDF personnel and at one point 60% of the total fleet.

ASDF aircraft are expensive to fly, and now that the roads have been reopened there is less of a need for air transport. As for the MSDF, ships are probably running low on supplies and fuel, and embarked helicopters probably need service — many were sent to sea on only 24 hours’ warning.

And, as Surveillance To Go Nowhere notes, “a lot of the SDF soldiers are just tired”.

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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 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch