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NO.8
 
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SPECIAL FEATURE

The National Defense Academy of Japan

Located atop Obaradai in Yokosuka amid a scenic landscape that overlooks the deep blue of Tokyo Bay and commands views of Mount Fuji to the west and the hills of the Boso Peninsula across the bay, the National Defense Academy of Japan is where the young men and women who will be the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) officers responsible for Japan's security in the future are educated and trained.

Cadets marching from their quarters to the classrooms
Cadets marching from their quarters to the classrooms

Purpose of establishment
The National Defense Academy (NDA) was established as an affiliated organ of the Ministry of Defense with the objective of educating and training future Ground, Air, and Maritime SDF officers, and to conduct research necessary to achieving this objective. As well as providing an education equivalent to that offered by other fouryear universities and awarding bachelor's degrees to its graduates, it provides instruction in defense sciences related to national security and defense, along with basic training required of the SDF personnel.
    Since its establishment in 1952, it has been reorganized several times in response to major changes in the domestic and international environment, and cadets now graduate specializing in one of 14 fields: 3 in the humanities and social sciences and 11 in the sciences and engineering. If they satisfy the necessary requirements, cadets can go on to pursue research courses, that is to say, master's and doctoral courses.

A classroom of the NDA
A classroom of the NDA
Educational aims and characteristics
Education at the NDA is aimed at developing broad perspectives, instilling scientific thinking, and enriching a sense of humanity. It is planned and executed to promote the synthetic effectiveness of these matters.
    Cadets acquire the scholastic abilities and skills required of the SDF officers through their education and training, their life in the cadet quarters on campus, and their Cadet Association activities. Furthermore, they strengthen their minds and bodies, develop the character needed to perform their duties as the SDF personnel, and develop sturdy physical strength and vigorous spirits.
    One significant feature of the NDA is that the future officers of the Ground, Maritime, and Air SDF are educated at the same institution, based on reconsideration of the fact that a sense of rivalry between the prewar army and navy led Japan down the wrong path. This creates all kinds of opportunities for developing a spirit of understanding and cooperation among the three forces. The NDA also places an emphasis on developing human resources who can engage in the international community, and therefore it actively arranges short-term study abroad for around 40 cadets a year, hosts foreign students, and invites cadets from 13 countries (including the United States, Australia, and the Republic of Korea) to participate in an international conference for cadets to discuss the international situation and security issues. In addition, all cadets join athletic clubs as voluntary club activities in order to develop their physical abilities and nurture the spirits of comradeship and solidarity.


Cadets' daily lives
All cadets are enrolled in the Cadet Corps when they enter the NDA, and live regularly structured lives according to a fixed daily routine in the cadet quarters for four years until their graduation. The Cadet Corps, which consists of four battalions, is organized to enable all cadets to spend their communal lives smoothly, master the basic ability to command units and execute duties, and cultivate self-discipline. It is administered on their own initiative by chief cadets and cadets-on-week-duty under the guidance of instructors. Education, training, and various events are conducted for each of the Cadet Corps.
    Cadets recognize that the three virtues set forth in the cadet code—honor, courage, and propriety—are essential qualities of the SDF personnel, and conduct themselves in a disciplined manner.

A pavement emblem at the academy with the cadet code
A pavement emblem at the academy with the cadet code
Having lunch on campus
Having lunch on campus


Twenty-fifth transport unit takes over Golan Heights mission
For a year after graduation, cadets are appointed as sergeant majors, chief petty officers, or senior master sergeants of the Ground, Maritime, or Air SDF, respectively, receive instruction at each officer candidate school (in Kurume for the GSDF, Edajima for the MSDF, and Nara for the ASDF), and assume the duties of units, following which they are commissioned as second lieutenants of the GSDF and ASDF or ensigns of the MSDF.

Scene of the March 2007 graduation ceremony
Scene of the March 2007 graduation ceremony

Life at the NDA in cadets' own words

Hirotake Uchida (fourth-year cadet in the Department of Aerospace Engineering)
Uchida marched as a leader at the Central Review
Uchida marched as a leader at the Central Review
I wanted to be an engineer and so entered the local Tomakomai National College of Technology in Hokkaido, but I also began to consider that unless the security of the nation is ensured first of all, we cannot do anything, not even develop new technologies, in the period of learning at college. At this time, a suspicious boat happened to enter Japanese waters, and so I acknowledged the importance of ensuring the security of the nation again. I thus decided to join the MSDF as my future career. I was selected as a chief cadet of the Cadet Corps and learned about the difficulties of taking command of an organization under various situations. My most wonderful memory as one of the results of such learning is of having been able to show the results of our training with all the other cadets on the march at the Central Review of the SDF in October.


Tomoko Toita (fourth-year cadet in the Department of Humanities)
Tomoko Toita
Women take the same training as men do at the NDA, and there are no lightened baggage loads or shortened distances for women. The training is physically hard to do, and although I cannot perform at the same level as the men, I believe what I did to the best of my ability has led me to grow up. I have also gained a sense of confidence from having been captain of the basketball club as part of the Cadet Association’s activities.