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; known by its initials as: MSA.

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

Japan Coast Guard
Kaijō Hoan-chō
Japan Coast Guard racing stripe
Ensign of the Japanese Coast Guard
Japan Coast Guard ensign
Agency overview
Formed1948 (As Maritime Safety Agency)
April 2000 (As 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 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.

Main building of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Kasumigaseki, under which the Japan Coast Guard operates, and where it is headquartered

Operational units

Regional organization

Japan Coast Guard regions
A map of the division of jurisdiction between the 11 JCG regions

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

Special Rescue Team officer abseiling from AS332 helicopter
A SRT officer abseiling from an AS332L1 helicopter.

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 Kidō-kyūnan-shi (機動救難士).[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 Tokubetsu-keibi-tai (特別警備隊).[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
Japan Coast Guard PL51 Hida 2

Hida (PL-51)


The JCG operates 74 aircraft, these include:

  • Fixed Wing: 27
  • Helicopters: 46


Vehicle of Japan Coast Guard(Kagoshima)
A "Onebox Car" using as a Patrol Car of Japan Coast Guard in Kagoshima.

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 1970's forward, substitution of these old guns began. The 3-inch guns were retired by 1979, as their age was progressing. Also from FY1978 a 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 1960's, 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.

Notable events

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]
Spy Ship Incident in the Southwest Sea of Kyūshū
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]

See also


  1. ^ a b http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/e/english.pdf
  2. ^ INC., SANKEI DIGITAL. 【きょうの人】「我が国の領土・領海を守り抜く」海上保安庁長官 中島敏(なかじま・さとし)さん(60). 産経ニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Yoneda 2016.
  4. ^ Asanaga & Ōtsuka 1995, pp. 47-51.
  5. ^ Asanaga & Ōtsuka 1995, pp. 51-60.
  6. ^ Asanaga & Ōtsuka 1995, pp. 63-91.
  7. ^ Asanaga & Ōtsuka 1995, pp. 120-143.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Nakanomyo 2015.
  9. ^ Komine 2005.
  10. ^ Maritime Safety Agency 1979, pp. 5-6.
  11. ^ a b Hasegawa 2010.
  12. ^ New Fighting Power! Retrieved on April 25, 2008.
  13. ^ Maritime Safety Agency 1979, pp. 6-28.
  14. ^ Maritime Safety Agency 1979, pp. 22-23.
  15. ^ 国境を守る海上保安庁. (in Japanese)
  16. ^ 北朝鮮 工作船. (in Japanese)
  17. ^ 海上保安資料館 横浜館-Japan Coast Guard Museum YOKOHAMA-. (in Japanese)
  18. ^ Advanced Land Observing Satellite "DAICHI" (ALOS) (JAXA webpage)


  • 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.

External links

Coordinates: 35°40′33″N 139°45′00″E / 35.67583°N 139.75000°E

Advanced Land Observation Satellite

Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS), also called Daichi (a Japanese word meaning "land"), is a 4-ton Japanese satellite launched in 2006. After five years of service, the satellite lost power and ceased communication with Earth, but remains in orbit.

Facility (Japan)

A facility (施設等機関, Shisetsu-tō Kikan) is a collective term for Japanese organizations such as test and research laboratories, inspection and certification institutes, educational and training facilities, medical and rehabilitation facilities, reformatory and internment facilities, and work facilities that are established under the Cabinet Office or other governmental organizations (ministries, commissions and agencies) set forth in Article 3, paragraph 2 of the National Government Organization Act. It is distinguished from an extraordinary organ. The classification was created on 1 July 1985 when an amendment to the National Government Organization Act was put into effect.

Hideyo Hanazumi

Hideyo Hanazumi (花角 英世, Hanazumi Hideyo, born 22 May 1958) is a Japanese politician serving as the Governor of Niigata Prefecture, following his election in June 2018. Prior to his election, Hanazumi served as a vice commandant in the Japan Coast Guard and as Vice Governor of Niigata.

Japan Coast Guard Academy

The Japan Coast Guard Academy (海上保安大学校, Kaijō Ho'an Daigakkō) is a university-level academy established within the Japan Coast Guard for the purpose of training students to become officers. It is located in Kure, Hiroshima prefecture.

Students have the status of public employees. They do not pay tuition; moreover, they receive a salary (in 2003, the amount was 138,000 yen per month).

Technically it cannot award degrees of its own to its graduates because it is not in jurisdiction of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). A MEXT affiliate, the National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation does instead.

Japan Coast Guard Museum

The Japan Coast Guard Museum is a museum dedicated to the Japanese Coast Guard in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. It is located on the grounds of the Japan Coast Guard Academy.

Japan Coast Guard Museum Yokohama

The Japan Coast Guard Museum Yokohama (海上保安資料館 横浜館, Kaijō hoan shiryōkan Yokohama-kan) is a museum in Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, dedicated to maritime security and the Japan Coast Guard. It opened on 10 December 2004.

Kaiyō No.1-class oceanographic research ship

The Kaiyō No. 1-class oceanographic research ship (第一海洋型海洋観測船,, Daiichi Kaiyō-gata Kaiyō-kansokusen) was a class of oceanographic research ship/weather ship of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), serving during World War II. The IJN official designation was 200-ton oceanographic research ship (二〇〇瓲海洋観測船,, 200-ton Kaiyō-kansokusen).

List of Japan Coast Guard vessels and aircraft

List of Japan Coast Guard vessels and aircraft.

List of Japanese flags

This is a list of Japanese flags, past and present. Historically, each daimyō had his own flag. (See sashimono and uma-jirushi.)

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Abbr.; MMEA; Malay: Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia – APMM); formally known as Malaysia Coast Guard for international identification, is the coast guard organisation of Malaysia, and principal government agency tasked with maintaining law and order, and coordinating search and rescue operations in the Malaysian Maritime Zone and on the high seas.

The Agency and its members are part of the Malaysian Federal Civil Agency and report directly to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The MMEA however, can be integrated under Malaysian Armed Forces command during an emergency, special crisis, or wartime.The agency maintains close ties with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG).

Miho-Yonago Airport

Miho Airbase (美保飛行場) (IATA: YGJ, ICAO: RJOH), also known as Yonago Airport is a Japan Air Defense Force (JASDF) base located 11km northwest of Yonago in Tottori Prefecture. It is owned and operated by JASDF and shares the runway with civil activities.

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (国土交通省, Kokudo-kōtsū-shō), abbreviated MLIT, is a ministry of the Japanese government. It is responsible for one-third of all the laws and orders in Japan, and is the largest Japanese ministry in terms of employees, as well as the second-largest executive agency of the Japanese government after the Ministry of Defense. The ministry oversees four external agencies including the Japan Coast Guard and the Japan Tourism Agency.

Nanpō Islands

The Nanpō Islands (南方諸島, Nanpō Shotō) is a collective term for the groups of islands that are located to the south of the main islands of the Japanese archipelago. They extend from the Izu Peninsula west of Tokyo Bay southward for about 1,200 km (750 mi), to within 500 km (310 mi) of the Mariana Islands. The Nanpō Islands are all administered by Tokyo Metropolis.

The Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department of the Japan Coast Guard defines the Nanpō Shotō as follows:

Nanpō Shotō (Nanpō Islands)

Izu Shotō (Izu Islands)

Ogasawara Guntō (Bonin Islands)

Mukojima Rettō

Chichijima Rettō

Hahajima Rettō

Kazan Rettō (Volcano Islands)

Kita Iwo Jima (North Iwo Jima)

Iwo Jima

Minami Iwo Jima (South Iwo Jima)



MinamitorishimaThe Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, a government agency that is responsible for standardization of place names, does not use the term Nanpō Shotō, although it has agreed with the Japan Coast Guard over the names and extents of the subgroups of the Nanpō Shotō.


The Okinotorishima (沖ノ鳥島, Okinotori-shima) is a coral reef with two rocks enlarged with tetrapod-cement structures. It is administered by Japan with a total shoal area of 8,482 m2 (2.096 acres) and land area 9.44 square metres (101.6 sq ft). Its dry land area is mostly made up by three concrete encasings and there is a 100 by 50 m (330 by 160 ft) stilt platform in the lagoon housing a research station. There is a third complete artificial tetrapod-cement islet. It is located on the Palau–Kyushu Ridge in the Philippine Sea, 534 km (332 mi) southeast of Okidaitōjima and 567 km (352 mi) west-southwest of South Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands or 1,740 km (1,080 mi) south of Tokyo, Japan. The atoll is the southernmost part of Japan and the only Japanese territory in the tropics.

Japan claims the atoll is significant enough for Japan to have a 200 nautical mile (370.4 km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the atoll, but China, South Korea, and Taiwan dispute the Japanese EEZ, saying that the atoll does not meet the definition of an island under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Patrol boat

A patrol boat (also referred to as a patrol craft, patrol ship or patrol vessel) is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defence duties. There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, police force or customs and may be intended for marine (blue water) or estuarine or river ("brown water") environments. They are commonly found engaged in various border protection roles, including anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement. They are also often called upon to participate in rescue operations. Vessels of this type include the original yacht (from Dutch/Low German jacht meaning hunting or hunt), a light, fast-sailing vessel used by the Dutch navy to pursue pirates and other transgressors around and into shallow waters.

Sokuten-class auxiliary minelayer (1913)

The Sokuten class auxiliary minelayer (測天型敷設特務艇,, Sokuten-gata Fusetsu-Tokumutei) was a class of minelayers of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), serving during the 1910s and World War II. They were called the Sokuten class from their nameship. And, they were called Toshima class after the Sokuten retired. Also, by the book, the Natsushima was included to this class. This article handles the Natsushima and Sokuten class collectively, because they do not have a big difference. Their official class name was not mentioned in the IJN official documents.

Special Security Team

The Special Security Team (特殊警備隊, Tokushu-keibi-tai) is a counter terrorism tactical unit of the Japan Coast Guard, based at the Osaka Special Security Station (大阪特殊警備基地). The acronym of its Kanji name has already been used by other units, the abbreviation "SST" is used for this team.

Sōya (icebreaker)

Sōya (宗谷) is a Japanese icebreaker that serves as a museum ship in Tokyo after a long and storied service spanning some of the 20th century's historic events. It is named for Sōya Subprefecture in Hokkaido.

Tategami-class salvage tugboat

The Tategami-class salvage tugboats (立神型救難船兼曳船,, Tategami-gata Kyūnansen-ken-eisen) were a class of rescue ship/tugboat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), serving during World War II. The Miura-class (三浦型) was a wartime variant which introduced measures to simplify production. The official IJN designation for all vessels was 800-ton salvage tugboat (八〇〇瓲救難船兼曳船,, 800-ton Kyūnansen-ken-eisen).

North America
South America


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