Defense Minister's Remarks

Inauguration Speech by Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (August 4, 2008)

(Provisional Translation)

August 4, 2008

I have just been assigned to the post of the Minister of Defense. I am honored to assume this noble mission of defense of Japan, which is a fundamental factor for the existence of our nation. At the same time, I fully recognize the importance of my mission and responsibilities. I will devote all my power to keeping the peace and independence of our country, fulfilling our responsibilities and roles expected by the international community and living up to the mandate of the people of Japan.

At the time of my appointment as Defense Minister, Prime Minister Fukuda instructed me on the basic policies for carrying out my duties. Now, I would like to explain the key issues based on his instructions.

What I have to mention firstly is the reform of the MOD, an urgent issue associated with the current status of the Ministry. It is an extremely serious situation that the MOD and SDF have significantly lost public confidence due to a series of misconducts and accidents that has occurred
d since last year. At the same time, I think that each member of the MOD and SDF had a hard time due to what had occurred in the organization which he or she belongs to.

This issue had been discussed at the Council for Reforming the Ministry of Defense, established at the Prime Minister's Office. On July 15, the Council; submitted its report which laid out the basic directions to revitalize the MOD and SDF. I would like to make the utmost effort to realize the measures compiled in the report at the earliest possible time.

The Prime Minister has also instructed me to raise the morale of the SDF, which is apt to be lower due to occurrence of the misconducts and accidents, to strive to improve the system and to create an organization that can ensure the security of the country. While reflecting what we should reflect and improving what we should improve, I would like to create the new MOD and SDF in which its members can proudly and vigorously engage in their duties.

From now on, I will earnestly strive to realize the reform based on the report by following the instructions by the Prime Minister and taking over the strong will and proactive efforts towards the reform from my predecessor, the former Minister Ishiba.

Next, I would like to express my opinions concerning the major issues to be tackled by the MOD.

Currently, Japan is facing various challenges such as new threats and diverse situations including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as international terrorist activities. Meanwhile, the security environment around our country remains severe, given the nuclear and missile issues of North Korea and the military buildup of China.

The MOD must appropriately address such a security environment, while retaining the basic defense policies including the exclusively defense-oriented policy and not becoming a military power.

For that purpose, I will first of all strive to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements and ensure close cooperative relations with the United States based on it. The realignment of US forces in Japan will contribute to easing the burdens borne by the local communities and local residents concerned, while appropriately responding to the change of the security environment and maintaining the deterrence. While sincerely listening to the voices of local people, we need to steadily advance the realignment. I would like to make every effort for the realignment, while taking appropriate measures based on the U.S. Forces Realignment Special Measures Law, working in cooperation with ministers concerned and gaining cooperation of the local communities and residents concerned. Furthermore, in order to ensure that Japan and the United States can appropriately address various challenges in a diverse security environment and maintain the deterrence, I would like to make efforts to ensure common recognition shared by the two countries, advance reviews on their roles, missions and capabilities, and thereby further enhance the effectiveness of the Japan-US alliance.

Secondly, I will ensure that the SDF will continue to engage in international peace cooperation activities in a proactive manner and on our own initiative, as a responsible member of the international community. The SDF's activities for UN peace-keeping operations has been highly evaluated by the international community because of their high proficiency and thorough disciplines.

The replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean by the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the airlift activities in Iraq by the Air Self-Defense Force have played an important role in Japan's engagement as a peaceful nation in the fight against terrorism and for the reconstruction of Iraq, which are important challenges in the international society. In particular, the handling of the activities in the Indian Ocean is expected to be a major issue at the Diet, etc., since the existing Replenishment Support Special Measures Law will expire in the coming January. Moreover, in July next year, we will also face the expiration of the Law Concerning the Special Measures on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq. Japan needs to decide on our own initiative on the future commitment to the fight against terrorism and the reconstruction assistance in Iraq. I would like to continue to make efforts to gain the understanding of the people for the SDF's overseas activities.

Thirdly, I would like to improve defense capabilities that can effectively respond to new threats and diverse situations, by means such as enhancing effectiveness of the operation of the ballistic missile defense system. I will proceed with appropriate reviews on what defense capabilities will meet the needs of the times.

Fourthly, I will further strengthen the crisis management system, in order to more promptly and appropriately respond to diverse emergencies such as terrorist attacks and large-scale disasters. Prompt responses by the SDF upon the outbreak of the Iwate-Miyagi Inland Earthquake on June 14 this year and other natural disasters have earned voices of gratitude from the afflicted persons. I will make further efforts to secure safety and reassurance of the people, in order to live up to the expectations and the trust of the people.

Fifthly, I will advance bilateral defense exchanges with other countries including China and South Korea, as well as multilateral security dialogues including the organization of international conferences to promote confidence-building with other countries.

As I have pointed out at the opening of this speech, the importance of our mission to keep the peace and safety of the people and our grave responsibilities for it will remain unchanged in the future. I strongly believe that the Japanese people are hoping that we will raise our morale, improve our systems and thereby devote ourselves to our fundamental duties of maintaining the safety and peace of the people, even under the circumstances where a series of misconducts and accidents has occurred.

I hereby swear to dedicate myself wholeheartedly together with all MOD and SDF members to the noble mission of defending our country. I strongly hope at the same time that each MOD and SDF member will work harder in the duties assigned to him or her. This concludes my inauguration speech as the Minister of Defense.

Yoshimasa Hayashi
Minister of Defense