Japan Coast Guard

The Japan Coast Guard (海上保安庁, Kaijō Hoan-chō) is the Japanese coast guard. Comprising about 12,000 personnel, it is under the oversight of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and is responsible for the protection of the coastline of Japan. It was founded in 1948 as the Maritime Safety Agency.

Japan Coast Guard
Kaijō Hoan-chō
Japan Coast Guard ensign
Agency overview
Formed1948 (as the Maritime Safety Agency)
April 2000 (as the Japan Coast Guard)
Preceding agency
  • Maritime Safety Agency
Annual budget210,601,000,000 yen[1]
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Operations jurisdictionJapan
Legal jurisdictionJapanese Maritime Zone, International Waters
Primary governing bodyGovernment of Japan
Secondary governing bodyMinistry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
HeadquartersTokyo, Japan
Agency executive
Official Websites in Japanese and English

The motto of the Japan Coast Guard is "Righteous Benevolence" (正義仁愛).


The mission of the JCG is to ensure security and safety at sea as below:

As stipulated in Article 25 of the Japan Coast Guard Law, the JCG is not a military but a civilian organization. In the case of emergency situation, the JCG may be incorporated under the direction of the Minister of Defense as stipulated in Article 80 of the Self-Defense Forces Law.


National Headquarters

The Japan Coast Guard is led by a Commandant and two Vice Commandants. Lower ranking officers include the director general, directors and inspector generals.

Organization (as of April 1, 2009)

  • Commandant
    • Vice Commandant
    • Vice Commandant for Operations
  • Administrative Inspector General
  • Administration Department
  • Coast Guard Research Center
  • Equipment and Technology Department
  • Guard and Rescue Department
  • Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department
  • Maritime Traffic Department
  • Coast Guard Academy (Kure)
  • Coast Guard School (Maizuru)
  • Moji Branch school (Kitakyushu)
  • Miyagi Branch school (Iwanuma)

The Japan Coast Guard Academy is a 4-year-training institution, located in Kure, Hiroshima prefecture, established within the Coast Guard for the purpose of training students to become officers. Graduates are given a bachelor's degree upon graduation. About 40 cadets graduate from the academy each year.

Operational units

Regional organization

The JCG has divided the nation into eleven regions to facilitate its coast guard operations. Each region maintains a Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, under which there are various Coast Guard Offices, Coast Guard Stations, Air Stations, Hydrographic Observatory, and Traffic Advisory Service Centers.

Special units

The JCG maintains three national-level elite units for each specialized fields:

Special Rescue Team (SRT) (特殊救難隊, Tokushu-kyūnan-tai).
Rescue swimmers and public safety diving team. Regional counterparts are Mobile Pararescue Officers (機動救難士, Kidō-kyūnan-shi).[3]
National Strike Team (NST) (機動防除隊, Kidō-bōjo-tai)
Offshore oil spill and chemical hazard response team. The Japanese counterpart of the National Strike Force (NSF) of the USCG.[3]
Special Security Team (SST) (特殊警備隊, Tokushu-keibi-tai)
Counter-terrorism tactical team. Regional counterparts are Special Riot Squads (特別警備隊, Tokubetsu-keibi-tai).[3]



Immediately after its creation, the MSA operated the second-hand ships of the former Japanese Navy, but it was only allowed to use smaller and slower vessels.[4] The designations of PL, PM, PS and PC were used to classify ships as being: Patrol Ship – Large, Medium, Small and "Craft" = very small. From FY1949 the construction of new ships began. Because GHQ instructed the service to model its ships after those of the USCG, the 700-ton PL Daiou-class was based on Cactus-class buoy tenders, the 450-ton PM Awaji-class patrol vessel was based on Thetis-class patrol boats, the 270-ton PS Kuma-class patrol vessel was based on Active-class patrol boats, and the 23-meter PC Hatsunami-class patrol craft used a USCG 75-foot patrol boat as a model. However, these copies of American ship types were found wanting as they neither suited the actual operational work of the MSA nor the sea conditions around Japan.[5]

As a result, when the Treaty of San Francisco came into force, MSA's own patrol ship's design work began. The PL type patrol vessels increased in size to the 900-ton Nojima-class patrol vessel, PS type patrol vessels differentiated into the 350-ton PS Tokachi-class patrol vessel and the 130-ton PS Hidaka-class patrol vessel. Later, the 350-ton class PS's were reclassified as PM type.[6]

In the late 1970s, it was clear that the new international rules on national exclusive economic zones would demand a considerable increase in the size of the Maritime Safety Agency fleets. To cope with this dramatic increase in workload, the 1,000-ton PL Shiretoko-class patrol vessels, 500-ton PM Teshio-class patrol vessels and 30-meter PC Murakumo-class patrol craft were built in large quantities. In addition, the Japan MSA also began protecting shipping operations by deploying air-sea rescue helicopters on-board PLHs.[7]

Since the 1980s, criminal ships had advanced into Japan's ocean spaces and were showing high speeds, also North Korean armed trawlers began to appear. For this reason, the MSA designed and built the 180-ton PS Mihashi-class patrol vessels that combined both ocean-going capability and high-speed performance. In addition, upping the speed of PL and PM type patrol vessels became important and this has also been achieved. As a final measure, by equipping JCG ships with remote control turrets incorporating automatic tracking functions applied to the ship's machine cannon, precise shooting became possible.[8]


The JCG operates 455 watercraft, these include the following:

  • Patrol vessels: 121
  • Patrol craft: 234
  • Special guard and rescue craft: 63
  • Hydrographic survey vessels: 13
  • Aids to navigation evaluation vessels: 1
  • Buoy tenders: 2
  • Aids to navigation tenders: 18
  • Training boats: 3


The JCG operates 74 aircraft, these include:

  • Fixed Wing: 27
  • Helicopters: 46


The JCG does not have any Emergency vehicle but civilian vans for transporting goods and personnel.[9]


As described above, the JCG is not a military but a civilian organization, so the rules on the use of weapons are based on those of police officers, not self-defense officers.

Vessel-mounted weapons

Because the Allied countries wanted to maintain the disarmament of Japan, the weapons allowed to be carried by the MSA were restricted to only small arms in the earliest days. However, following the outbreak of the Korean War, the need to strengthen the security capability of Japan became necessary, and starting in 1954, the installation of larger guns on MSA ships began.[8]

Initially ships of the MSA were permitted to carry Mark 22 3"/50 caliber gun for large vessels (PL type), Bofors 40 mm L/60 guns for medium and small size ships (PM and PS type), and Oerlikon 20 mm L/70 guns were mounted on small patrol boats (ARB type and auxiliary submarine chasers). Actually, however, the number of 40 mm guns was insufficient, and many of the PS type had 20 mm guns installed instead.[8]

From the 1970s, substitution of these old guns began. The 3-inch guns were retired by 1979, as their age was progressing. Also from FY1978 an Oerlikon 35 mm L/90 gun was substituted on ships replacing the Bofors 40 mm L/60 gun, and from the FY1979 ships forward, the JM61-M 20 mm rotary cannons were installed on MSA ships in lieu of the earlier Oerlikon 20 mm guns.[8]

In the beginning, only a few of the 35 mm guns had a limited remote control function, most of these guns were manually controlled. Then, full-scale remote operation and automatic tracking function were included in the guns mounted on the PLH Shikishima introduced in 1989. In addition, the 20 mm gun systems were added to the standard equipment list as JM61-RFS, and they have been mounted on many patrol vessels. And in order to counter the heavily armed North Korean naval trawlers in the event of an engagement, most recently PLs have been equipped with a 40 mm L/70 gun or 30 mm chain gun remotely controlled with an optical director.[8]

Personal weapons

In the earliest days, MSA officers were issued WWII Nambu Type 14 semi-auto pistols and M1 rifles. Starting in the 1960s, the old semi-auto Nambu pistols were replaced by newly built M60 revolvers. More recently some security units of the JCG have been equipped with modern Smith & Wesson Model 5906 TSW pistols.[8]

Starting in the late 1960s, the M1 rifle was replaced, and sailors of the JCG were issued: Howa Type 64 rifles; and from 1990, their weapons were updated again to the Howa Type 89 rifles. In addition to these automatic rifles, SST is equipped with Heckler & Koch MP5A5/SD6 submachine guns. The Howa M1500 has been adopted as a sniper rifle, and the SST has also adopted anti-materiel rifles manufactured by the McMillan Firearms.[8]


In the Empire of Japan, coast guard operations were mandated for the Imperial Japanese Navy. But the Navy was dissolved with the surrender of Japan, and the ability of maintaining maritime order was declined seriously. Dense trade and smuggling had increased dramatically, even pirates had come to appear. Consultation between the Japanese government who wanted to restore public security capacity as soon as possible and the Allied countries wanting to maintain disarmament of Japan faced difficulties, but in 1946, an "Illegal Immigration Control Headquarters" was established in the Ministry of Transport, as cholera was transmitted to Kyushu by smugglers from the Korean Peninsula and was concerned to cause severe infection explosion.[10][11]

Meanwhile, the GHQ/SCAP also recognized the deficiencies of the Japanese coast guard system, and in March 1946, USCG Captain Frank M. Meals was invited to consider the situation. Captain Meals suggested the establishment of a comprehensive coast guard organization based on the USCG. In response to this, MSA was established as an external station of the Ministry of Transportation in 1948.[11] Its English name was changed to Japan Coast Guard in April 2000.[12] In 1952 the Coastal Safety Agency was created with ships supplied by the US and spun off in 1954 as the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

Minesweeping operations

Immediately after the end of the war, a large number of aerial mines laid by the US military were left in the waters around Japan, and the duty of clearing them became an important mission of the MSA. For this mission, minesweepers of the former IJN were incorporated into the MSA, and later, transferred to the Safety Security Force, ancestor of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.[13]

In addition to activities in Japan's waters, in 1950, two flotillas of minesweepers were sent to the Korean Peninsula under the United Nations flag during the Korean War.[14]

Battle of Amami-Ōshima

On December 22, 2001, JCG ships intercepted a Chinese-flagged vessel believed to be North Korean in origin, in the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone between Kyushu and China. When the vessel failed to respond, she was fired upon by the JCG and an exchange of gunfire resulted. The unidentified vessel sank in the Chinese EEZ with all hands.[15] The ship, later salvaged by the JCG, was found to be carrying weapons and spy equipment.[16] The wreck and its contents were put on display at the Japanese Coast Guard Museum at Yokohama.[17]

JCG museums

See also



  • Asanaga, Youichirou; Ōtsuka, Yukitaka (1995). Japan Maritime Safety Agency - their vessels and aviation. Seizando-shoten publishing co.,ltd. ISBN 4-425-77041-2.
  • Maritime Safety Agency (1979). 30 years history of Japan Coast Guard. Maritime Safety Agency Foundation. ASIN B000J8HCXQ.
  • Komine, Takao (2005). SST - the Japan Coast Guard Special Forces. Namiki Shobo. ISBN 4-89063-193-3.


  • Hasegawa, Hiroyasu (2010). "The Difference of Speculation in Japan-U.S.Government Around Establishment of the Japan Coast Guard" (PDF). Crisis & risk management review. Crisis & Risk Management Society of Japan (18): 11–20.
  • Nakanomyo, Masami (October 2015). "History of shipboard guns on JCG's patrol vessels". Ships of the World. Kaijin-sha (825): 168–173.
  • Miyake, Norio (November 2009). "Japan Coast Guard: Past, present, and future". Ships of the World. Kaijin-sha (714): 97–105.
  • Yoneda, Kenji (July 2016). "JCG's special teams facing a new phase". Ships of the World. Kaijin-sha (840): 152–157.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.