The Japanese Military's Greatest Enemy Isn't China



Michael Peck

Security, Asia

But a shrinking population...

In a nation whose population is so elderly that robot children substitute for the real thing, it’s not surprising to find a lack of young people to join the military.

But Japan is finding that robots are no substitute for people to maintain its military.


The Japan Self-Defense Force has been unable to meet its recruiting goals since 2014. As of March 2018, it was almost 10 percent below its budgeted strength of 247,154 personnel. Enlisted personnel, who tend to be younger, were 26 percent below their budgeted level.


“Empty recruiting tables and disinterested audiences are becoming more common for the JSDF as the country’s demographic troubles and robust economy have created what some defense insiders call a ‘silent crisis’ for military recruiting,” according to the Japan Times. “Amid a rock-bottom birthrate, the number of Japanese age 18 to 26 — the core of the recruitment pool — has shrunk to 11 million from 17 million in 1994. That group is forecast to shrink to 7.8 million over the next 30 years.”


Hideshi Tokuchi, a former vice-minister of defense, warns that lack of manpower will have consequences. “The manpower shortage will affect operational efficiency. It is a headache. There is more to do with fewer people and I don’t think there is any easy solution.”


Conscription is barred by Japan's constitution, so the military is trying to compensate by raising the maximum age for new recruits as well as recruiting more women. Females only make up about 6 percent of the JSDF, compared to 15 percent in the United States and 10 percent in Britain.


Japan's problems are hardly unique. Birth rates are falling in Russia (down 10.7 percent last year) and in Europe, while even the U.S. birth rate has fallen to a thirty-year low. In many nations, the allure of a lucrative civilian career outshines the splendor of a military uniform.


However, Japan does labor under the burden of the past. Military service has not been popular in post-World War II Japan, still haunted by the specters of fascism and atomic bombs. The Japanese constitution, shaped by the American occupation, outlaws war, while the Imperial military became a “Self-Defense Force.”


Japan's personnel crisis raises an interesting question: how many soldiers does a nation need to recruit to maintain its military power? Before World Wars I and II, France was acutely aware that Germany had a larger population to maintain a larger army. Thus the Maginot Line, which has gone down in history as folly, though it actually was a rational attempt to use concrete and steel to compensate for a lack of flesh.


To some extent, Japan is shielded from the worst of military demographics. It is not likely to fight a land war in Asia, or commit its troops to massive overseas campaigns like the United States in Iraq. Any conflict with China would likely be a naval-air struggle involving ships and airplanes, with perhaps a couple of brigades of marines to seize or defend island bases. This sort of warfare requires limited numbers of skilled personnel to operate and maintain aircraft and ships.


And, perhaps a nation so enamored of robots will develop combat automatons to do the dirty work. But unless the nature of warfare really changes, Japan will still need enough young people to keep its military machine going.



译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46285.html   译者:Jessica.Wu

The MM.9 hours ago

Japan WILL be the first to introduce robot soldiers in the battle field !



Perry12 hours ago

WHY did they write this article: Australia Population for 2018 is over 24 million and Canada Population for 2018 estimated population of 36.95 million. Both Countries has way more land than they Japanese.



Adrian15 hours ago

There is No Japanese Military as per their MacArthur written, Constitution.



Mikey Likes It14 hours ago

I guess the writer is unfamiliar with the fact that Japan committed troops to Iraq in 2004. I saw them going North on MSR Jackson while my unit was heading south on our last day in country.



stephen11 hours ago

Too many people in the world anyway. Everyone complains about "global warming", then go nments try to encourage population growth.



KD12 hours ago

The world is vastly overpopulated.



Robert7 hours ago

I have been to Japan during the late 1960s and my impression was that 90% of the country has no population, very similar to how Hawaii is. All the mountainous areas have no homes and all the cities are hugely overpopulated and situated along the coastlines of the islands there, just exactly like in Hawaii. Thus Japan is now actually going to have an improvement in the living standards now that there will be less people. More and more people is NOT a good thing. If it were then (red) China and India would be wonderful places to live and THEY AREN'T! StocktonRob



Rodger Olsen13 hours ago

They need use the systems that Russia used to reverse their population trend. Most of it was cash grants for children, monthly stipends and inexpensive housing. A few years ago, when I was living part time in Russia, one family in our apartment block, moved into a new home with money that paid for the grants they got from their last two children.

However, the tactic that I liked the most was the "go home and make a baby" days. Workers in many places were told to leave work early (or just to say home) and make a baby. I don't know exactly how many babies were conceived, but they had lot of happy employees.



m13 hours ago

very simple: PAY MORE MONEY. Wanting a person to risk their lives AND at a lower than private jobs pay pushes a person's loyalty to their country too much. If a stable and wealthy country wants itself protected, then pay its soldiers!



nam13 hours ago

Japan should work with other nations to form alliance like NATO (Korea, Philippine, India, Vietnam, etc.) According to history, China has been big issue for every body.



Bob11 hours ago

Pushy neighbors, uncertainty for the future, and disagreements world wide certainly don't make married couples want to have children. Taiwan is facing the same situation.  Economics is one of the biggest birth control factors in educated countries.



Stephen2 days ago

If Japan starts using fighting robots, then it will become a hacking war.




Japan has 140 million people on a tiny set of real estate. There should be a campaign to reduce the human population. China, India, Europe, and North America should do the same.



Floyd14 hours ago

Elephant in the room causing low birth rates= feminism



J N12 hours ago

Spending too much money on the military will ensure the country to go into debt. The US spends over 30% of its GDP on the military. No other countries in the World comes even close. Russia, China, India, Saudi spends well less than 10% of its GDP. European Union spends about 2%. Japan about 1%. US has to finance it's military through continuous selling of US Treasury to foreign nations. So technically US is militarily strong but only at the mercy of foreign powers.



Dallas14 hours ago

There is a recession right around the corner. When it happens military recruitment will skyrocket.



Rian14 hours ago

People across the globe are tired of fighting constant wars. We just want to live peaceful and happy lives. Governments make wars and problem where problems don't exist and expect it's citizens to fight and die for them...and foot the bill for it too. Wei tired of fighting wars for politicians and rich men, so go fight them yourselves.


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