CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are considering new female training units to accommodate an influx of female recruits that is expected to continue to climb in the coming years, Japanese media reported this week.

The island nation is finding it increasingly difficult to accept female recruits with its existing units stretched to capacity, the Jiji Press news agency reported, citing sources with knowledge of the deliberations.

As a result, the Self-Defense Forces are considering the addition of new units across the country to accommodate recruits in all three service branches.

Japanese defense officials did not respond to requests seeking comment this week.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force is considering a new training unit at its base in Sasebo, Nagasaki prefecture, sometime between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, Jiji Press said. The JMSDF has requested just shy of $6 million for fiscal 2019, which starts in April, to build female barracks there.

Of the four JMSDF recruit-training bases, female training occurs only at Yokosuka in Kanagawa prefecture, Jiji said. That base was designed to accept about 120 female recruits in a typical year but this year that number rose to 219.

Its rolls are expected to surpass 240 in fiscal 2019, which is considered its absolute limit.

Once the Sasebo barracks are completed, the number of female recruits at Yokosuka is expected to drop to around 200 per year.

The Air Self-Defense Force conducts recruit training at its Kumagaya base in Saitama prefecture and Hofu Minami in Yamaguchi prefecture, Jiji reported. Women train only at Hofu Minami, but officials are considering expanding that training to Kumagaya.

The Ground Self-Defense Force mainly holds female recruit training at Camp Asaka in Saitama prefecture, Jiji said. It too is considering the formation of a new unit to relieve the pressure on Asaka, but further details were unavailable.

The Self-Defense Forces have gone from 144 female servicemembers in its inaugural year, 1954, to more than 15,000 as of March 2018, or 6.5 percent of the total force, according to its website. That number is up 1.6 percent since 2008 and continues to climb, the Defense Ministry’s 2018 white paper added.

The ministry plans to eliminate quotas and raise the number of female servicemembers to more than 9 percent by 2030.

Some jobs in the Japan Self-Defense Forces have typically been closed to female servicemembers.

A new initiative in April 2017 expanded career options for women but JMSDF submarine duty, JGSDF biological and chemical weapon defense and JGSDF tunnel units are still closed to women due to the equipment used and the lack of compliance with the Maternal Health Act.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now