Defense Minister's Remarks

Instructions by Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa at the Ceremony for the Presentation of the Unit Flag to the International Disaster Relief Unit for Haiti (February 6, 2010)

(Provisional Translation)

The original text is in Japanese.

February 6, 2010

Today, as we hold the ceremony for the presentation of the unit flag to the International Disaster Relief Unit for Haiti with the attendance of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, I am truly encouraged to see you, the unit members brimming with a sense of mission.

The large-scale earthquake that occurred in Haiti in the Caribbean Sea on January 13 caused enormous damages to the nation's capital and the surrounding area.

Our country has already been conducting emergency relief activities including medical relief activities and airlifts. In the UN Security Council passed a resolution on January 19 to dispatch additional peacekeeping personnel in order to support efforts for recovery, reconstruction, and stabilization. In response to it, and a receipt of a request from the United Nations, our country also decided to dispatch Self-Defense Forces (SDF) units in order to make further contribution with human resources. I appreciate your efforts, completing preparations in the short period less than two weeks from the January 25, when the order to start preparations was issued.

The duties that you will undertake in Haiti are supporting recovery by such means as removing debris and repairing roads. You will be assuming these duties as representatives of our country. It is my strong hope that you will make full use of the skills that the Ground Self-Defense Force has acquired through daily training and engagement in domestic disaster relief activities as well as the experiences that it has gained in UN peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, East Timor and other places to contribute to the reconstruction of Haiti and the facilitation of UN activities there.

With regard to the families of the dispatched unit members who will protect their home in their absence, their worry and difficulties can be imagined. I seek their understanding, as the government will take thorough measures to ensure that the troops will be able to safely fulfill their missions.

You, the unit members, will be undertaking duties in a harsh environment far from Japan, and will likely be facing many difficulties. Thus, I pray from the bottom of my heart that each and every member of the unit will complete your honorable duties without fail and come back home safely, under the command of Colonel Masaharu Yamamoto, the commander of the Japan Disaster Relief Unit for Haiti which the strictest disciplines, while cooperating closely with the United States and other countries peacekeeping forces dispatched to Haiti. With this, I conclude my instructions.

Toshimi Kitazawa, Minister of Defense