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    Defense Agency to remain Defense Agency

    The proposal to elevate the Japan Defense Agency to ministry level will not be presented to the Diet during this session:

    Within the government and the ruling coalition, there is a growing perception that it is necessary to conduct more extensive inquiries into the collusion scandal revolving around procurement at the Defense Facilities Administration Agency and to see the matter through to discussion in the Diet.

    Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi made a statement about the bill to elevate the JDA to ministerial status at noon on 13 February: “We’re cooperating in the LDP and the Komeito and want to keep an eye on the situation. It’s not a discussion to have in haste or in a panic.” He indicated that he is not adamant about submitting the bill during this Diet session. He was responding to a question from the press corp at the Prime Minister’s residence. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe also related at a morning press conference that “we want to continue to examine, as the government, how the collaboration between the ruling parties should be organized.”

    Defense certainly warrants a body at the highest level of government operations, but I can see the point that the last thing Japan needs is yet another ministry that engages in bid-rigging and revolving-door shenanigans.

    4 Responses to “Defense Agency to remain Defense Agency”

    1. tanoki says:

      The last thing Japan needs now is to promote national defense to the ministerial level. Japan needs to sort out its own constitutional conundrums first, and part of me thinks that the reason the Japan Defense Agency didn’t get promoted this time was for that very reason–because they would have to answer to all of the pacifist, constitutional strict-constructionalists if they placed a higher priority on defense. Personally, I think Japan would be well-served by a Self-Defense Force that operated in substance and name more as an army, but either way, the Diet (and the Japanese people as a whole) need to come to some sort of consensus on what kind of nation they want to enter the 21st century with and stick by it.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yes, but they also need to bear China, the DPRK, and the whole WOT in mind. Not to say that there aren’t problems to work out–only that you may not be able to get a tidy consensus on everything before the window of time in which moving will be most effective has passed.

    3. monocrat says:

      Out of curiosity: What would be the legal difference between a defense ministry and agency? Isn’t the head of the agency already Cabinet-level?

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Most agencies are sub-organizations to federal ministries. The JDA isn’t, so it falls directly under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister, and there’s no Minister of Defense. It was set up that way to limit the autonomy of the military administration after World War II. You can read more at Global Security:

      The Defense Agency and the SDF both comprise the same defense organization. However, the term Defense Agency is used to denote an administrative organization responsible for the management, operation, etc., of the GSDF, MSDF and ASDF, while the term SDF is used to mean armed organizations that conduct unit activities for the defense of the nation and for other purposes. The SDF are under control of the civilian Defense Agency, subordinate to the prime minister. Unlike MITI or MOF, JDA is not a full-fledged ministry. Rather, it is an agency, a part of the Prime Minister’s Office. Not only is it of lower bureaucratic standing, therefore, but it has less control over its own fate than do full ministries. Thus, of the 10 bureaucratic appointments to JDA, at least four are assigned from other ministries. This situation is the result of a deliberate effort to ensure continued civilian control.

      That description, referring as it does to MITI rather than METI, is obviously a few years old, but nothing has changed about the JDA. Well, there’s been a move to redesignate the Self-Defense Force the Self-Defense Army.

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