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NO.9
 
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The 7th Sub-committee of the Tokyo Defense Forum

Mr. Masaru Tsuji, director-general for International Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Japan, made the opening remarks
Mr. Masaru Tsuji, director-general for International Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Japan, made the opening remarks
The 7th Sub-committee of the Tokyo Defense Forum (forum for defense authorities in the Asia-Pacific Region; TDF for short) was held in Tokyo on February 27 and 28, 2008. Twentyfive countries from the Asia-Pacific region participated, along with the European Union and three other organizations.
    In line with the discussions at the 12th Tokyo Defense Forum, the sub-committee examined the drafting of a "Best Practice Reference Paper for Peace-building" containing matters for consideration for the promotion of capacity improvement and international cooperation in peace-building, and there was also an exchange of views on the topic of "Regional Cooperation and Its Impact on Surrounding States" from the perspective of mutual understanding among states.
    The draft of the "Reference Paper" that was submitted to the session cited such items as the establishment of special units for peacebuilding and the implementation of training activities in order to foster international and civil-military cooperation as examples of preparation; as examples of operations, the draft cited such items as the importance of assistance for reconstruction and of support of governance and the rule of law with emphasis on fostering local ownership, and close cooperation, including information sharing and regular communication, with various civil actors.
The 7th Sub-committee of the Tokyo Defense Forum     In an exchange of views on the regional cooperation and its impact on surrounding states, participants shared the view that responses to diverse contingencies, including international terrorism, natural disasters, piracy, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and regional conflicts, have been more significant in the recent Asia-Pacific regional security environment.
    Based on their discussions, participants shared the view that efforts for regional capacity building and international cooperation in peacebuilding should be further pursued in various international forums including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). They looked forward to the 13th Tokyo Defense Forum, which will be held this October in Tokyo.

The sub-committee session of the TDF
The sub-committee session of the TDF

New tank released

Prototype of the new main battle tank for the GSDF
Prototype of the new main battle tank for the GSDF
At the Ground Systems Research Center in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, on February 13, the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) of the Ministry of Defense released a prototype of the new main battle tank (MBT) for the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), which has been under development since fiscal 2002 (April 2002 to March 2003). The new tank is the successor to the current MBTs, and it is intended for use in antiarmor battles, mobile strikes, and response to guerilla and commando attacks. By comparison with the current MBTs, the new tank has improved firepower, mobility, and protection. It also has smaller size and lighter weight, which are suitable for deployment all over the country, and has a greatly improved function for sharing information among tanks and units.
 

Chief of the Joint Staff Office visits China

Chinese Defense Minister General Cao with Japanese Chief of the Joint Staff Office Saito (left)
Chinese Defense Minister General Cao with Japanese Chief of the Joint Staff Office Saito (left)
Admiral Takashi Saito, chief of the Joint Staff Office, visited China from February 26 to 29 and held talks with Chen Bingde, chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army. The two affirmed that both countries will further develop bilateral defense exchanges and strengthen mutual understanding and trust in the field of security, and they exchanged views concerning the international and regional security situation and their two country’s defense policies. The two also confirmed the importance of securing transparency with respect to their respective defense capabilities through this sort of direct dialogue.
    In addition, Admiral Saito paid a courtesy call on Chinese Defense Minister General Cao Gangchuan and visited the Air Defense Command Center of the Chinese Air Force for the capital. General Cao invited Japanese Defense Minister Ishiba to visit China this year. (Also see the interview with Admiral Saito on page 8.)
 

The collision between MSDF escort ship Atago and a fishing boat

Minister Ishiba inspects the nighttime lookout setup of MSDF vessels
Minister Ishiba inspects the nighttime lookout setup of MSDF vessels
At 4:07 on the morning of February 19, the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) escort ship Atago, cruising in the waters of the Pacific Ocean roughly 42 kilometers south of Cape Nojima, Minami Boso, Chiba Prefecture, collided with the fishing boat Seitoku Maru, and its two crew members went missing.
    The MDSF and Japan Coast Guard conducted an all-out search. Defense Minister Ishiba declared, "This accident is extremely regrettable. We must devote our full efforts to the search and rescue operations and promptly conduct an investigation into the causes."
    The investigation by the MSDF and MOD concerning the causes of the accident is still being conducted.
 

East Asian Strategic Review 2008 released

NIDS’s briefing at the FCCJ
NIDS’s briefing at the FCCJ
On March 26 the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) published East Asian Strategic Review 2008.
    The Review analyzes medium- to long-term issues that seem important for consideration of security in East Asia and important country-by-country and region-by-region phenomena relating to East Asian security that happened in 2007, looking at the Korean Peninsula, China, Southeast Asia, Russia, the United States, and Japan. The focal points of the 2008 edition include China’s space development program, the establishment of the Hu Jintao line and related issues, the situation on the Korean Peninsula including the North Korean nuclear problem, the strengthening of Southeast Asian countries' ties with external powers (Japan, the United States, China, Russia, and India), and the establishment of communities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
    In connection with the publication of this work, Dr. Shinichi Ogawa, director of research, NIDS, delivered a briefing at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on March 26.
    Both Japanese and English versions are available on the NIDS website http://www.nids.go.jp/.
 

Rice becomes Commander of U.S. Forces Japan

Lieutenant General Rice, Jr., new commander of USFJ
Lieutenant General Rice, Jr., new commander of USFJ
On February 25, 2008, Lieutenant General Edward A. Rice, Jr., took over as Commander of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) and Commander of the 5th Air Force (all the U.S. air forces in Japan). A command pilot with experience flying such planes as the B-1B and the KC-135, he has undertaken numerous assignments, including chief of staff for the Office of the Representative and executive director for the Coalition Provisional Authority, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C., commander of the 13th Air Force, and vice commander of the Pacific Air Forces. Upon assuming his new assignment he expressed his hopes in the article "On the U.S.-Japan Alliance," which he presented to our newsletter. Here are excerpts.
    For a complete version of this article, log on to http://www.usfj.mil/.
    "As the new commander of U.S. Forces Japan, I can’t think of a more important, challenging, or rewarding assignment. Working with the people of 5 AF, USFJ, and our embassy team, I’ve quickly confirmed my initial assessment that our relationships with the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the people of Japan are strong and that our bilateral alliance has a bright future."
    "Upon taking command of USFJ, I stated that the people who crafted the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America were visionaries, that the treaty is as important today as it was 48 years ago, and that it continues to form the very foundation of the alliance between our two great nations. Moreover, our alliance is not only important for the people of the United States and the people of Japan, but it is increasingly important to all people in the Pacific region who wish to see a more peaceful, more prosperous, and more secure future."
    "With shared commitment to defeating the global threat of terrorism while maintaining regional stability, Japanese and US military forces are well postured to deter threats and protect common interests in Asia. As our two militaries work together to meet emerging security challenges in the East-Asia Pacific region, more than five decades of mutual trust, cooperation, and support form a solid partnership. Friendships among our two militaries will continue to be the foundation for our "Roadmap" to transformation, helping ensure the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance is stronger and more relevant and inclusive than at any time in its history. I look forward to our continued progress in meeting our agreements."