From the Japan Times:
Nearly 80 percent of residents polled in Iraq's Al-Muthanna Province have backed Japan's decision to extend by one year its humanitarian and reconstruction mission in the area, according to a local newspaper survey.
Update: This makes the GSDF deployment much more popular among the Iraqis being helped than it is among the Japanese people. Another set of elections are coming up in Japan on January 30, so I expect to hear more about evil American attacks on poor Iraqi grandmothers and children from the usual motley crew of Communists, Democratic Socialists, and Democrats (they have their own Democrat Party here, unrelated to the US Democrat Party).
Defense Agency Plans For Chinese Invasion
Again, from the Japan Times:
The Defense Agency has prepared a plan to defend the southern remote islands off Kyushu and Okinawa from possible invasion amid rising security concerns about China, according to documents obtained Saturday by Kyodo News.
The agency compiled the plan in November on the assumption of an invasion of the islands located within a 1,000-km zone between the southern end of Kyushu and Taiwan.
Thousands of islands are scattered in the area. The Senkaku Islands, claimed by both Japan and China, are among them.
The plan calls for a dispatch of 55,000 troops from the Ground Self-Defense Force as well as planes, warships and submarines from the main islands in the event the remote islands are attacked.
"China has been expanding its scope of activities as seen in the case of an incursion of Japanese territorial waters (by a Chinese nuclear submarine) in November. We need to monitor its moves," the official said.
Under the plan, patrol planes of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the airborne warning and control system of the Air Self-Defense Force would collect information on the remote islands.
Fighters, submarines and destroyers dispatched from the Kyushu and Chugoku regions would be divided into two groups to prevent aggressors from landing on the islands or block their supply routes.
The GSDF [Ground Self-Defense Forces] would mobilize its Western Army Infantry Regiment based in Nagasaki Prefecture, which consists of specially trained soldiers in charge of defending remote islands, and members of a planned rapid deployment force. They would descend onto the islands from the air.
I have a hard time seeing the Japanese retaking an island from the Chinese if the Chinese have decided to stay. Of course, it is possible the Japanese plan relies on unstated support from the US 7th Fleet, which considerably changes the odds.
According to Global Security, the Chinese navy possibly has nine destroyer flotillas, seven submarine flotillas, and five amphibious flotillas with two marine brigades. The Japanese Maritime SDF has about nine destroyer flotillas and two submarine flotillas, though I have no idea how Japanese flotillas and Chinese flotillas compare,
The Japanese MSDF are also primarily trained and equipped for defense; most of their fleet and aircraft are designed to hunt subs and interdict aircraft, not perform assaults. They don't have aircraft carriers, so their ability to project sea power is limited. However, the change in plans at the Defense Agency may very well herald a change in force structure.
(Of course, the MSDF seems to be very well designed to gather naval intelligence for the US 7th Fleet ... )