Defense Minister's Remarks

Instructions by Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa (December 22, 2009)

(Provisional Translation)

The original text is in Japanese.

December 22, 2009

To all of you, members of the Self-Defense Forces working at bases and camps, engaged in training and missions on the seas and outside the country, I will now give instructions concerning the prevention of the recurrence of accidents and the enforcement of discipline.

On the eighth of this month, an accident occurred in which an SH-60J patrol helicopter assigned to the 22nd Fleet Air Wing of the Maritime Self-Defense Force went down off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture. Although we were able to rescue one of three crew members who were on board, the other two, to our utmost regret, died in the line of duty. When I consider the feelings of the bereaved families, my heart is filled with unbearable sorrow. I offer my heartfelt prayers for the repose of the souls of the two men.

As the Minister of Defense, who is in charge of the administration of the Self-Defense Forces, I extremely regret that, just in the last several weeks, accidents involving the Self-Defense Forces have occurred in addition to this one as follows; two F-15 fighter incidents of falling parts and one F-15 landing with the landing gear in its gear box, as well as the collision incidents between two destroyers. At the same time, I have taken profoundly and seriously the fact that the Self-Defense Forces, whose mission is to protect the lives and properties of the people, have caused such incidents that endangered them, and I keenly feel my responsibility towards the people.

Most recently, I was instructed by Prime Minister Hatoyama to brace myself in the execution of my duties given the accidents involving the Self-Defense Forces that have been recently occurring frequently.

In my inaugural speech, I stated, "The trust of the people is the foundation of the Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces."

Regarding our mission of defending our country, the understanding and cooperation of the people is essential, and this is a task that cannot be fulfilled without the trust and expectations of the people. Hence, our predecessors have accumulated without any complaints tireless efforts under the most difficult circumstances to create today's Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces. Today, we enjoy the deep trust and expectations of many of the Japanese people and the international community. At the same time, we are dedicating all our strength to the mission of defending our country to further live up to these trust and expectations. The recent series of accidents have marred such trust and expectations; we must by all means prevent the recurrence of accidents and regain the trust of the people.

Through my inspections of various units, and attendance at various events and occasions of the Self-Defense Forces after taking up my post as the Minister of Defense, I have come into contact with the gallant figure of SDF members who are earnestly striving to fulfill their duties, and have felt a deep sense of trustworthiness and pride in them.

I trust you all. Nevertheless, you must renew your awareness of the fact that you are always in close to danger in places where you are engaged in training or your duties. I want you to take the occasion of this series of accidents to consider the fact that a moment's lax attention may have an immeasurable impact on you, your family and the people.

I ask each and every one of you, SDF members, to brace yourselves again, maintain your intensity and sense of duty, renew your noble resolve of self-restraint, and therewith tackle your missions.

At the same time, the responsibility of the senior members is also highly important. Although it goes without saying that the self-awareness of each and every member is of the utmost importance in order for all the members to engage in training and their missions with unfailing concentration, I want all senior members, who command the approximately 270,000 members of the Self-Defense Forces at their respective levels to renew their awareness of the high importance of directing and supervising their subordinates properly in order to prevent unfortunate accidents. I want senior members to strive to manage the units in such a way that they can go forth unflinchingly in their work, while units reexamine how to proceed with their daily work.

On my part, I am determined to undertake the establishment of an environment that allows you, the SDF members, to engage in training or execute your duties with high morale, and to ensure with all my might the prevention of recurrences of such unfortunate accidents with the recognition that I am responsible for each and every accident.

I would like to take this occasion also to mention disciplinary incidents. Disciplinary incidents, just like accidents, mar the trust and expectations of the people, and we must prevent occurrence of them. Even you, SDF members, who faithfully observe regulations day by day, may have occasions when you harbor the thought that it may be alright, since you do it just once or, you do it just by yourself. In such an instance, I strongly urge you not to compromise your self-discipline, and think again that your actions may bring misery to your beloved families. I am convinced that the SDF members can be proud of their dignity, since they are faithfully keeping discipline in their own beliefs. When we welcome the new year and bid farewell to this year, especially, I ask you to reflect on yourselves and strive to maintain self-control.

The accidents and disciplinary incidents that I have talked about so far cannot be prevented from recurring just by instructions and guidance given from the central offices. It is of the utmost importance that central offices and local units take truly effective countermeasures to prevent their recurrence in a united manner where central offices understand the situation in the local units and listen to the variety of voices from them. Therefore, I intend to take points and think together with you, the SDF members who work at central offices and local units all over the country and devote all my power to create and thoroughly take better countermeasures.

Finally, I will mention a few words that I want each and every SDF member including senior members at all levels to keep close to your hearts. It is: "overcoming oneself," or the "spirit of self control." It is necessary to have the resolute courage to overcome oneself and reject at all times wrongdoing, carelessness and lax attention. That should lead to self discipline, and the total elimination of unfortunate accidents and disciplinary incidents.

I strongly hope that you, the SDF members, will have this spirit of self control and will renew reflections on yourselves, and at the same time not shrink from but continue to execute your duties with confidence and pride. With that, I conclude my instructions.

22 December 2009
Toshimi Kitazawa, Minister of Defense