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Interview with the ASDF Chief of Staff
Toshio Tamogami

Toshio Tamogami

Would you tell us about your career in the Air Self-Defense Force thus far?
For about ten years after entering the ASDF in 1971, I worked in air defense missile groups in Kyushu and Okinawa. I was then assigned to the Air Staff Office and became involved in budget compilation and other such activities, after which I was assigned to some bases as commanding officer. When I became commander of the 6th Air Wing in 1998, it was the first case that a person specialized in Air Defense Artillery Operations became head of a fighter plane wing. My later appointment as a director of the Logistics Department was another exceptional case of a nonspecialist being the chief. I felt uncomfortable for a while after moving into both positions, but because taking firm command is the common requirement of those at the top wherever they are, I was able to complete both assignments satisfactorily. Probably I was also able to bring in some new perspectives as someone entering from the outside.

What were the most memorable jobs?
I can't forget how tense I was the first time I took part in practice with live shells while assigned to an air defense missile group. Though I'd had no problem during training, my body became sluggish when it came to the actual firing of live shells. Apparently all of my subordinates also tended to be tense at first. I realized the great importance of practice firing with live shells.
    Upon becoming a base commander, I began paying close attention to relations with the outside. My thinking was that in the relationship between SDF bases on the one side and local governments and residents on the other, everything possible should be done always to deepen understanding toward the SDF. It's important to participate actively in local events and create an atmosphere in which the two sides talk with each other even when they don't have any particular business to discuss.

What are your thoughts on the future shape of the ASDF?
Public relations has a vital role to play in getting people to see the SDF in the proper light. The SDF can't exercise power if the public isn't behind them.
    In the international community, meanwhile, there are no organizations possessing absolute authority like the police and the prosecutors do within countries. Because of this, I think that individual countries need to be in possession of "strength." As I see it, military strength exists for the purpose of preventing warfare. Especially, the ASDF needs to be strong to maintain the balance of power among countries. This strength naturally comes from having equipment, but it also comes from having personnel who are enthusiastic, discerning, and technically capable.