Unit to Escort Japanese Nationals Overseas in Times of Emergency

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Tokyo, Berlin (6/6 – 50)

The Defense Agency Ground Staff Office in Japan has established a “guide unit” or an escort service in the Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Airborne Brigade (headquartered at Funabashi City, Chiba Prefecture). Its task is to transport and escort overseas Japanese nationals in such emergency situations as a conflict and a natural disaster in a foreign country.

The service is staffed with about 100 personnel. In the event of a dispute or coup breaking out in a foreign country, the government will dispatch the Self-Defense Force (SDF) aircraft or transport vessels with escort personnel aboard to airports or seaports there to evacuate Japanese nationals to Japan or neighboring countries. Dispatched SDF personnel will then guide and escort Japanese citizens and foreign nationals waiting to embark on SDF aircraft or vessels at airports or seaports after departure procedures.

The established team consists of personnel selected from among GSDF units, including the airborne infantry unit, which is reputed to be the GSDF’s most proficient, crack service. Its members are allowed to carry and use small firearms, such as automatic rifles and machine guns.

 The team will be dispatched only when the safety of transportation is ensured, according to the government. The unit will carry out its first full-scale training within the current fiscal year with the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s transport vessel Osumi and the Air Self-Defense Force’s C-130 transport aircraft, anticipating such emergency situations as being attacked at airports or other places on their escort mission.