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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Japan's Central Readiness Force

Long-time reader and longer-time friend, Matthew recently sent me a request for this blog.

He says: "I watch movies and see news here in America or other western nations that show commando response forces and often wonder:

What rapid response/commando forces does Japan have at its beck and call?  Is it something similar to what the west has or is it something more similar to the Indian commando force that had trouble coordinating and responding to the terrorist attack several years ago in Mumbai...?

Something for you to ponder, too...and maybe find out....? ;-)"

Well Matthew, seeing as how you are loyal and lazy friend - plus you added a smiling winking emoticon, I did a bit of research and discovered that yes, Japan does indeed have a special division set up to handle such concerns. In fact... there's a national division and an international division.

The Central Readiness Force (Chūō Sokuō Shūdan -  中央即応集団) was established on March 28, 2007 to provide a rapid reaction force to deal with terrorism, domestic disturbances and overseas peacekeeping.

The CRF has consolidated Japan's 1st Airborne Brigade, the 1st Helicopter Brigade, the Japanese Special Operations Group and the 101st NBC Protection Unit into a single force meant to conduct operations in domestic and foreign soil.

Consisting of some 3,200 people, the CRF force also has a 'Rapid Division' unit (at its headquarters) contained within it it consisting of several hundred troops ready to respond quickly as the situation dictates. The division also has its own helicopters.

The 'Rapid Division' gets to a crisis quickly and, in the case of an overseas mission, will quickly determine the best course of action for Japanese aid that won't embarrass the country while still providing the best aid or support. 

Some unnecessary background for Matthew:
The CRF is headquartered at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Camp Asaka in Nerima, Tokyo.
Two divisions: Domestic Operations; and International Operations;
Personnel are stationed throughout Japan (based on 2011 data):
  • Camp Asaka (HeadQuarters), 230 personnel - includes the 'Rapid Division'; 
  • 1st Airborne Brigade - Camp Narashino, Narashino, Chiba with 1,900 personnel;
  • Central Readiness Force Regiment - Camp Utsunomiya, Utsunomiya, Tochigi with 700 personal;
  • Japanese Special Forces Group - Camp Narashino, Narashino, Chiba with 300 personnel;
  • 1st Helicopter Brigade - Camp Kisarazu, Kisarazu, Chiba with 900 personnel;
  • Central NBC Weapon Defense Unit - Camp Ōmiya, Ōmiya-ku, Saitama with 155 personnel;
  • NBC Countermeasure Medical Unit - Camp Asaka, Asaka, Saitama with 70 personnel;
  • International Peace Cooperation Activities Training Unit - Camp Komakado, Gotemba,  Shizuoka with 80 personnel
DUTIES/ROLEThe JGSDF unit at headquarters has the capability of responding to any situation in either Japanese or foreign soil. The unit can also be Japan's response to any combat operations in further peacekeeping missions as a rapid reaction force as a part of the Japanese government's National Defense Program Guidelines over the need to improve the JGSDF's capabilities to deal with new defense issues such as foreign peacekeeping operations and anti-terrorist operations.

LEADERS (surname first)

  • Commander (Lieutenant General) Hidaka Masahiro (日高政広);
  • Deputy Commander for Domestic Operations (Major General) - Nishi Hironori (西浩徳);
  • Deputy Commander for International Operations (Major General) - Iwamura Kimihito (岩村公史);
  • Chief of Staff (Colonel) - Col. Kawai Shigeki (河井繁樹);
  • Vice Chief of Staff (two officers with rank of Colonel) - Nakadai Mitsuhiko (中臺充彦) and Aoki Shin-ichi (青木伸一)
PAST EXPERIENCES - The CRF was first deployed to combat wildfires in the forests of the Yamanashi Prefecture on April 29, 2007 with the 1st Helicopter Brigade.
 - Six officers from the CRF were deployed to Nepal as part of the UNMIS mission on March 30, 2007 as part of their first CRF peacekeeping mission.
 - The CRF was deployed to assist in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in humanitarian relief efforts, as well as to combat radiation problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

There are two official patches for the CRF personnel. For those involved in Domestic issues, they wear the patch shown at the very top of this article.

For those working globally, the patch directly below, is worn.    

Under future plans to unify cooperation between Japan and the United States, the Central Readiness Force's (CRF) headquarters will eventually be transferred out to Camp Zama  - a US Army post situated in the cities of Zama-shi and Sagamihara-shi in Kanegawa-ken (Kanegawa Prefecture)  about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Tokyo. This move is supposed to allow for greater cooperation and interoperability between the US military and the JSDF.

Okay Matthew... you asked, you got it.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Ask and ye shall receive!

    I bow down to your awesomeness - just don't bonk my konk if you bow back!

    1. Would you believe that I have NEVER cracked heads with anyone while bowing?! It's true. I have that internal calculator that allows me to stand far enough away when bowing!
      And... I certainly bow back in your general direction.
      Thanks for the inspiration!
      I'm working on my robot blog now...