Defense Minister's Remarks

New Year's Address by Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa  (January 4, 2010)

(Provisional Translation)
January 4, 2010

Happy New Year! To mark the start of 2010, I would like to deliver an address with respect for the members of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) who are on duty day and night all over Japan, as well as those who are engaged in various missions around the world, including the crews and units off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, the Golan Heights, Nepal, and Sudan, as well as the crews of the icebreaker Shirase who have been stationed far away from home in Antarctica, and defense attaches.

Last year was marked by incidents that renewed our sense of the presence of serious threat against Japan's peace and stability, such as the missile launches and nuclear tests by North Korea. The mission of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the SDF is to protect people's lives and property, and to contribute to the peace and stability of the international community. At the start of the new year, I am bracing myself once again for the responsibility of accomplishing this mission with my utmost efforts.

In this context, I would like to point out several issues that need to be addressed this year. First of all, the Japan-US security arrangements must be enhanced and made more effective, as they constitute the foundation of Japan's security policy. The Japan-US security arrangements have played a vital role not only in Japan's national defense but also in the peace and stability in the international community as well as in the region surrounding Japan. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty and both countries share the awareness that we will aim at further deepening the Japan-US alliance in this landmark year. The present issue lying between the two countries is the realignment of the US forces in Japan, in particular the relocation and return of Futenma Air Station. At the meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Basic Policies in December last year, we decided to proceed with our study on the relocation site for Futenma Air Station including the current plan, through consultation among the three ruling parties. We will select an appropriate site, one on which we can gain understanding from both the US and the people of Okinawa Prefecture.

Next, concerning the buildup of defense capabilities, we will conclude the review of the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and formulate the next Medium-Term Defense Program within this year. To this end, we will be conducting a thorough analysis and assessment of the security environment surrounding Japan and the current status of our defense capabilities, based on which we will review the modality of those defense capabilities in a positive manner. We will also be committing our full effort in the build-up of effective defense capabilities for ensuring the safety and security of the people in their daily lives.

Furthermore, the MOD and the SDF must respond appropriately to the increased seriousness of the North Korean missile issue by enhancing equipment and its operational systems in order to protect the people of Japan from ballistic missile attacks.

Regarding the anti-piracy measures, our destroyers and P-3C patrol aircraft are currently protecting commercial vessels off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden in order to secure the safety of maritime transportation. Ensuring safe navigation in this area is crucial for safeguarding the sea lines of communication as they act as Japan's lifeline as a maritime nation and a trading nation. We must continue to work on this challenge in order to build a foundation for the prosperity of all nations and people that benefit from this part of the sea.

With regard to activities for the peace and stability of the international community, SDF units and officers are currently dispatched and on duty in the Golan Heights, Nepal and Sudan based on the PKO law. Japan will continue to actively engage in PKO and other UN missions in concert with other nations involved. In the wake of the earthquake in Indonesia in October last year, upon the request of the Indonesian government, Japan dispatched SDF units to engage in medical relief activities at the disaster site. International disaster relief activities of this kind will also be enhanced by developing the necessary posture for prompt and proactive response.

I believe that reform of the MOD must be seriously undertaken in light of its importance. Japan's national defense cannot be ensured without the people's trust. I will steadily advance our review on reform in order for the MOD and the SDF to secure the people's trust and accomplish their missions.

As I have just pointed out, the MOD and the SDF must address numerous issues. Each of them requires our active and resolute engagement for the purpose of safeguarding Japan's peace and independence, and ensuring its national security. I would like to ask each and every member of the SDF, who shoulder Japan's national defense, once again to fully acknowledge this responsibility and devote yourselves to your tasks while maintaining strict discipline.

Finally, I would like to share with you one line from a Chinese poem composed during the Tang Period that has long served as a personal guideline in my life: "Feel other persons' spirits in your life/Fame is not an issue."* The meaning of this line is that winning praise or promotion is not an issue as long as you can deeply share spirits of some persons in your life. Regardless of differences in upbringing, for every person there are always some friends and colleagues who can genuinely understand them, and finding these people is even more precious than gaining wealth and fame. The MOD and the SDF consist of so-called officials in suits and uniformed personnel and various organizations such as the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces. In this context, I ask each of you not to confine yourself to your own assignment but to share your motivation with other members and work with them in unity in order to complete the mission entrusted to the MOD and the SDF.

I would like to close my address by wishing the best of luck and sound health to all of you and your family members, and by hoping that this year will be a year of great progress for the MOD and the SDF.

Toshimi Kitazawa

Minister of Defense

*人生感意氣 功名誰復論

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