Defense Minister's Remarks

Instructions by Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa at the Ceremony for the Return of the Surface Unit Dispatched for Maritime Replenishment Support Activities (February 6, 2010)

(Provisional Translation)

The original text is in Japanese.

February 6, 2010

Today, it is my great pleasure as the Minister of Defense to hold the ceremony for the return of the dispatched surface unit with the attendance of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and many guests including former Prime Minister Taro Aso and the families of the dispatched troops.

First of all, I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to you, the unit members, who fulfilled your duties on the Indian Ocean far from our homeland in a steady and dignified manner. Thank you very much.

Replenishment at sea demands long hours filled with tension. As the Minister of Defense, I am very proud of you, the unit members, who completed your duties in such a harsh environment and returned safely under Captain Ryo Sakai, the commander of the dispatched surface unit; Captain Takashi Shinagawa, the commander of the replenishment ship AOE Mash?; and Commander Tokihiko Umezaki, the commander of the destroyer DD Ikazuchi.

I also wish to express my deepest gratitude to the many people who supported the dispatched unit, in particular to their families, who protected their homes in their absence and served as their source of support, for their patience and understanding.

Although the replenishment support activities ended on January 15, high capabilities and technical skills for replenishment at sea and other operations that have been cultivated through the activities of the Self-Defense Forces so far are truly valuable assets for our country that will make significant contributions to peace and stability in the international community. Utilizing this achievement to the maximum extent, the Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces will continue to make the utmost efforts to play an active role on our own initiative in our country's international contributions.

I request that you make full use of this valuable experience to continue to diligently fulfill your duties. With that, I conclude my instructions.

Toshimi Kitazawa, Minister of Defense