While many celebrations are being cancelled this year – it remains to be seen just how the fireworks industry will survive a year of rampant ‘self-restraint’ – the Ministry of Defense is continuing with its plans to go ahead with the Military Air Review. According to the Sankei, the uniformed leadership within the Ministry are unhappy at having the Review drawing funds from the post-disaster restoration efforts. It’s not hard to understand why:

“Concentrate on the Disaster and Nuclear Power Plant”: Uniformed MoD Staff on Military Air Review Preparations

The troops on display at the 2008 Military Air Review

The troops on display at the 2008 Military Air Review (Source: sonic_blue_impulse)

The Ministry of Defense held a meeting on preparation work for this fall’s Military Air Review. In response to the recent disaster, some within the SDF’s leadership complained that “manpower and base facilities should be concentrated on disaster relief and crisis management.”

The previous Air Review was held in October 2009, and this year’s is planned for October at ASDF Hyakuri Air Base (Ibaraki Prefecture). In February, a directed from the ASDF Chief of Staff requested the dispatch of members from all units to prepare for the event. After the earthquake the dispatched members returned to their units, but returned to Hyakuri Air Base under the same plans in the middle of April.

At the start of May, when bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defense asked Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa to decide whether the Air Review would be held, Kitazawa replied “We should keep to the plans.”  Following this, on the 20th, the ASDF distributed a directive presenting detailed plans for the event to all units.

According to the plans, there will be less than 60 planes on display or being exhibited, compared to the 82 involved in the last event, but with plans for visitors up to around 8,500 compared to the previous event’s 7,000.

The ASDF still has over 11,000 personnel involved in the disaster relief efforts continuing to deliver supplies and help in the search for the missing. Should the situation at Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant worsen requiring the repeated dispatched of ASDF and fire crews, Hyakuri Air Base would become the staging point.

While there are usually around 1,800 SDF personnel at Hyakuri Air Base, from August it will be necessary to increase security personnel by around 1,000 troops, increasing the burden on personnel from all ASDF units.

The cost of the previous event, including venue construction, and so on, but excluding fuel,came to around ¥640,000,000. Meanwhile, the cost of restoring ASDF Matsushima Air Base (in Miyagi Prefecture), which hit by the disaster, will require ¥800,000,000 from the FY2011 First Supplementary Budget. The repairs of the water-damaged F2 fighters will also cost several tens of billions of yen. Many are saying that the money that would be used on the Air Review should be left for the restoration and reconstruction work.

The first Military Air Review took place in 1998 and since has been held on a rotating basis with the GSDF and MSDF Reviews once every 3 years. The Prime Minister attends to inspect the force. Alongside fighter aircraft, other acts such as the Blue Impulse aerobatic team also take part.

[H/T @ashigaru, @cro_pel, @JS_Susumu, @Kaname147 for their translation help]

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
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