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Interview with MSDF Chief of Staff
Keiji Akahoshi

Keiji Akahoshi

How has your career evolved since joining the SDF?
I entered the SDF in 1973 and was initially a pilot for the PS-1 amphibian. I subsequently piloted the P-3C patrol aircraft and was engaged in pilot missions until I became Commanding Officer, Air Patrol Squadron 3, in 1996. I have approximately 4,000 hours of total flight time, which is not that long, but I regard those hours as my treasure as a pilot.
    I was Commander, Fleet Air Wing 4, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. I felt firsthand how shocking it was for US military people. It usually took me about five minutes by car to get from my residence to headquarters, but on the day following the attacks, it took half a day due to security checks.

What have been some of the most memorable experiences for you?
I think the PS-1 years were the most formative for me in my career as a member of the MSDF. That was during the Cold War, and every day I was engaged in warning and surveillance activities of Soviet submarines. There were major accidents at the time that resulted in the death of 30 of my colleagues. This has made a lasting impression on me. I became fully aware of my responsibilities as an aircraft pilot through these experiences.
    In 2002, as Director of the Administration Department, Maritime Staff Office, I was in charge of organizing events for the fiftieth anniversary of the MSDF. We organized an international fleet review in Tokyo Bay, in which Russian naval vessels and a submarine took part. I recalled the days when I was pursuing Soviet submarines, and I was greatly impressed by the change of the times.

Keiji Akahoshi
How do you intend to accomplish your duties as chief of staff of the MSDF in the future?
The mission of the MSDF has significantly broadened in recent years, from operations in response to suspicious vessels and missile tests by North Korea to replenishment activities in the Indian Ocean.
    At the same time there have been occurrences of embarrassing incidents, such as information leaks and accidents resulting from carelessness. If they are attributed to imbalances between the content and volume of our work and the quality and quantity of our personnel, we’ll need to rectify that. There might be a need to review our educational methods.
    I think one of my important tasks is to realize the rebirth of the MSDF by filling the gap between an ideal picture of the MSDF and the current status. Another big task is to publicize the necessity and attractive features of the MSDF.