Japan's defense forces to use helmet cams on missions
By THE JAPAN NEWS/YOMIURI Published: October 22, 2016
Following the enactment of the security-related laws that authorize Self-Defense Force members to carry out new duties such as rescue missions in South Sudan, the Defense Ministry plans to record images of the members' activities as they conduct the new missions, according to sources.
The security-related laws have expanded the scope of SDF activities. However, in the event that a weapon is used by an SDF member as part of a mission, there is a possibility that their actions will be subject to later scrutiny, in particular as to whether they have followed protocol. The ministry hopes to verify SDF activities by maintaining objective images.
The government will decide by mid-November on the assignment of new missions to Ground Self-Defense Force members, due to be dispatched to South Sudan as early as November to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations, after conducting careful analyses of the security situation in the country. The ministry plans to provide small wearable cameras to these GSDF members.
Members will be able to record their activities from their own point of view after attaching the cameras, mainly to their helmets.
The ministry previously used such cameras to record the activities of a helicopter crew sent to areas affected by Typhoon No. 10 this year. A senior ministry official said that it would be the ministry's first deployment of such cameras outside Japan.
The enactment of the security-related laws in March authorized SDF members to conduct new duties such as rescue missions and joint protection of billeting areas.
The GSDF's 9th Division in Aomori is scheduled to be dispatched to South Sudan in November or later. The division has been trained for new missions.
If the division is officially tasked with these new missions, it is believed that its members will be able to use weapons against mobs and other persons deemed to be interfering with their missions.
The ministry decided that there is a need to verify division member activity due to the potential for scenarios in which those on the front line are forced to exercise their own judgment as to whether they should fire weapons, according to sources.
The ministry has also been examining the use of the cameras to transmit live images of on-the-ground activities to the ministry in Tokyo or to other facilities so that the SDF's top executives can issue direct commands to troops.