JGSDF, Marines discuss legal support for amphibious operations
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan Ground Self-Defense Force judge advocates met with U.S. Marine judge advocates Oct. 31 to discuss military legal topics during a bilateral training event on Camp Foster.
The discussion topics included basic military justice, cyber operations, operational law and legal support for amphibious operations.
“This conference was designed to allow us (Marines) to have a face-to-face engagement with our Japanese legal counterparts,” said Col. Peter S. Rubin, the staff judge advocate for Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “Our collective goal is to promote and sustain the cooperative relationship between the Marine Corps and JGSDF, learn from each other, and become more effective legal practitioners.”
The Marines are with III Marine Expeditionary Force and MCIPAC Offices of the Staff Judge Advocate, and the JGSDF judge advocates are members of the 15th Brigade, Western Army of the JGSDF, and the Ground Staff Office of the JGSDF.
The conference took place as JGSDF leaders begin planning for the establishment of an amphibious capability.
It is important for the JGSDF officers to understand their many responsibilities during the conduct of amphibious operations, so that the process of creating an amphibious unit will flow smoothly, according to Capt. Jordan M. Gwiazdon, an operational law attorney for III MEF.
The Marines discussed the role of judge advocates during amphibious operations, including the judge advocate’s role during operational planning, detainee handling and training service members about the rules of engagement.
“Even the lowest-ranking individual can have the biggest influence on the battlefield,” said Gwiazdon. “It’s important that every service member understands the ROE and that JGSDF judge advocates understand their importance.”
As the meeting progressed, the JGSDF judge advocates described the plan for their future amphibious force, highlighting the importance of current planning and preparation.
The JGSDF is expected to establish a complete amphibious component in the future, according to Col. Shoji Katsui, the deputy staff judge advocate for the JGSDF. It is a big step for the JGSDF, moving them closer to creating the new unit.
It was a sincere privilege for the Marine judge advocates to have the chance to meet with and assist the JGSDF judge advocates as they work through the complexities associated with amphibious operations, according to Rubin. The JGSDF understands the vital role that judge advocates play in the operational context, and following the conference, they can better recognize, analyze, and resolve legal issues associated with amphibious operations.
Each discussion period ended with a question and answer session that displayed differences between each militaries’ legal process.
“Japan will need to amend its constitution if there will ever be anything similar to a court martial,” said Katsui. “Currently, military members being prosecuted are tried in civilian court and (JGSDF lawyers) help defend them.”
As the conference ended, the closing comments carried the theme of joint operations, continued partnership and appreciation.
“We are very appreciative of (the Marines’) hospitality,” said Katsui. “We hope to complete more successful training with you, our friends and allies.”