National Police Reserve

The Origin of Japan’s Self Defense Forces

Based upon years of research undertaken in the US Occupation archives, this book provides a history of Japan’s National Police Reserve (NPR), the precursor of today’s Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF). It is the first ever comprehensive and exclusively focused history of the force in any language. The book examines the domestic and international origins of the force, the American constabulary model upon which it was based, the NPR's character and operation, and its evolution into the GSDF. This volume provides numerous insights and fresh perspectives on the character of the NPR, the origins of the SDF, the US Occupation of Japan and Cold War era US-Japan relations.

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Thomas French, Ph.D. (2010), Southampton University, is Associate Professor of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University. He has published articles and policy papers on Northeast Asian security and the Self Defence Forces and is a regular contributor to ISN/ETH’s Security Watch.
List of Tables and Figures
A Note on the Text


I:The NPR in the Literature and Archives
Secondary Literature
Archival Sources

II. The JCP and the Domestic Context of the Creation of the NPR: 1945-1950
The JCP 1945-1950: ‘Peaceful Revolution’ to ‘Military Policy’
Japanese Conceptions of Internal Security and the Desire for a Constabulary

III. The International Context of the Creation of the NPR: 1945-1950
The International Political Context
Competing American Visions of Japanese Security
US Constabularies Before the NPR
The Korean War and the Birth of the NPR

IV. The Organisational Character of the NPR
Training and Examinations
Deployment and Logistics
The Capabilities of the NPR
The Internal Security Role Envisaged for the NPR
The NPR's Links with the Civil Police
The NPR and Former Officers I

V. The Operational Aspects of the NPR
The Living Conditions of Members of the NPR
The Legal Position of the NPR
The JCP 1950-1952: The ‘Military Policy’ in Action, Attempts at Violent Revolution in Japan
The JCP and the NPR
Disaster Relief

VI. The Evolution of the NPR
The Chinese Intervention and the Fall of MacArthur
The Push for Heavy Armament and Expansion
The NPR and Former Officers II
The NSF, SDF and Japanese Resistance
Continuities in the NSF and SDF


I. The ‘Constabulary Letter’, 2 October 1945
II. Yoshida to MacArthur, Letter on Police Reform/Recentralisation, 6 August 1949
III. Macarthur to Yoshida, Letter Authorising the Creation of the NPR, 8 July 1950
IV. Stalin’s New Year’s Message to the Japanese People, 31 December 1951
V. Japanese Policy Document: ‘Initial Steps for Re-armament Program’, 3 February 1951


Those interested in Japanese security, the Occupation of Japan, the Cold War in East Asia, US-Japan relations, and the Self Defense Force's creation, character and evolution.
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