Related Rule
Practice Relating to Rule 3. Definition of Combatants
The Report on the Practice of Japan states that the Japanese Government understands that Japanese Self-Defence Forces (Jieitai) are categorized as armed forces as referred to in Article 4 of the 1949 Geneva Convention III. Therefore, in the event that a member of the Self-Defence Forces becomes a prisoner, he/she should be treated as a prisoner of war under international law. The report specifies that only self-defence officials (Jieikan) who perform duties in the three Self-Defence Forces (ground, marine and air) and hold ranks possess the status of combatants. 
Report on the Practice of Japan, 1998, Chapter 1.1, referring to Statement by a member of the Japanese government in the House of Representatives Cabinet Committee, 30 October 1986.