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The Japanese military is severely limited by Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that renounces force as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits the creation of an army, navy, and air force. The exact limits of Article 9 is a controversial issue in Japan, but it has been interpreted as allowing for self-defense forces. As a result, Japan's USD $42.6 billion/year budget makes it the fourth largest military spender in the world, after the big three -- Unites Stated, Russia and China. 
Self-Defense Forces numbered about 246,400 in 1992: Ground Self-Defense Force 156,000, Maritime Self-Defense Force 44,400, and Air Self-Defense Force 46,000. Reserves 48,400.
Military branches: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Army), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Air Force)
Equipment: Ground Self-Defense Force: medium tanks, reconnaissance vehicles, armored personnel carriers, towed and self-propelled howitzers, mortars, single rocket and multiple rocket launchers, air defense guns, surface-to-surface missiles, antitank missiles, fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters, and transport helicopters. Maritime Self-Defense Force: submarines, guided missile destroyers, frigates with helicopters, frigates, patrol and coastal combatants, mine warfare ships, amphibious ships, auxiliaries, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters. Air SelfDefense Force: ground attack aircraft, fighters, reconnaissance aircraft, airborne early warning aircraft, transport aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, air-to-air missiles, and air-defense control and warning units.
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 30,259,247 (2000 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 26,139,516 (2000 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 771,452 (2000 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $42.9 billion (FY98/99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.9% (FY98/99) Japan keeps direct defense expenses at about 1 percent of GNP for political reasons.
Foreign Military Treaty: Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with United States (1960); can be revoked on one-year's notice by either party and is updated by minutes periodically.
Police Forces: Independent municipal and local police forces, all under supervision of National Police Agency in 1993. National Rural Police at prefectural level.
List of military figures
Military history of Japan, Imperial Japanese Army