Defense Minister's Remarks

The Defense Agency has become the "Ministry of Defense" on January, 2007

Speech by Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma

January 9, 2007

Speech by Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma

Today, the Defense Agency has become the "Ministry of Defense."

I have been officially appointed as the first Defense Minister. I will supervise the Self-Defense Forces as the competent minister for national defense under Prime Minister Abe, the supreme commander in chief.

To ensure definite security toward the future, the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces are committed to carving out a new history.

In recent years, the missions of the Self-Defense Forces have been not only the defense of our nation, but its missions have expanded into response to disasters inside and outside Japan, international peace cooperation and more. And there has also been a dramatic increase in the actual activities performed. Since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, a total of approximately 2.73 million Self-Defense Force personnel have been dispatched to engage in disaster relief missions. While overseas, roughly 30,000 Self-Defense Force personnel have been engaged in around 20 international peace cooperation activities such as PKO. I am aware that the transition to the Ministry of Defense of today is the result that the importance of its role has been rising in the national administration and in addition, the understanding of and trust in the Self-Defense Forces among the people have increased through these activities.

I believe that the upgrading of the Defense Agency to a ministry has great significance in that an administrative organization responsible for the most fundamental mission of a nation, i.e. "national defense", truly takes charge of defense policies. I also believe that by the transition to the Ministry and the upgrading of international peace cooperation and other activities to primary missions, we clearly signify both at home and abroad that our nation will actively address national defense and international peace, and our personnel who work in harsh environments will devote themselves to their duties with greater awareness and pride.

Today, I have instructed our personnel across the nation that it is necessary to break away to a policy-making ministry in both name and deed, to ensure the preservation of stricter discipline, to maintain the excellent tradition of the Self-Defense Forces and do more. My intention is that to meet the expectations of the people, all personnel will take this opportunity of the transition to the Ministry to brace themselves further and unite more firmly in one body to push forward their duties vigorously in central and local places, or various places of the world.

Also, as I have stated thus far, the bases of defense policies such as "exclusively defense-oriented policy," "moderate defense capability buildup," "prohibition of overseas deployment of troops," "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" and "not becoming a military power" are not matters that should be changed by the transition to the Ministry, and I will continue to firmly maintain civilian control.

The surrounding security environment of our nation is continuously in a severe situation such as the issue of ballistic missile launches and announcement of a nuclear test conducted by North Korea. The birth of the Ministry of Defense is by no means a goal; rather, it marks a start of new policy challenges. It is the intention of the Ministry of Defense to be more active in dealing with various issues, including addressing the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, ballistic missile defense, the reorganization of the ministry and efforts for international peace cooperation activities.

The Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces are committed to doing their utmost for the peace and stability of the world as well as for the future of our nation and its people.