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Interview with ASDF Chief of Staff
Ken'ichiro Hokazono

Ken'ichiro Hokazono

What duties have you carried out since joining the SDF?
I joined the ASDF after graduating from the National Defense Academy in 1974. I underwent training at the Officer Candidate School and became a member of the Central Aircraft Control and Warning Wing. My first assignment was as a ground-controlled intercept officer at the Mineokayama Radar Site. After that, I worked at the Air Staff Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, engaged in drafting the Defense of Japan, white paper, and served as a military attaché in Belgium.
    Subsequently, I became the head of the Air Staff Office's Intelligence Division, the commander of the Northern Aircraft Control and Warning Wing, the commandant of the Fifth Technical School, and the director of J-5, Joint Staff Council. I was named the commander of the Central Air Force in 2005, the commandant of the Joint Staff College in 2007, and Director General of the Defense Intelligence Headquarters in 2008.

What were the most memorable experiences while undertaking such duties?
The three years I served as a military attaché in Belgium from 1992 were among the most memorable experiences for me. The Soviet Union had just collapsed, bringing the Cold War to an end, and global attention was focused on how a new order would be established in Europe. I'd say that around 80 percent of my duties were to follow military trends in Europe. Being stationed in Brussels, where NATO's headquarters were located, and gaining firsthand access to information on security developments in Europe at that time turned out to be an extremely valuable experience for me.
    Another good experience was the assignment as chief of the J-5, Joint Staff Council. I served in this post for two years and four months from 2003. During this period, I coordinated the SDF's transition to a Joint Operations Posture (in March 2006). I sometimes engaged in intense debate with officers of each Staff Office, but the chiefs and other members concerned of the Staff Offices were highly motivated about the shift to the Joint Operations Posture, and this constructive attitude enabled us to concentrate our efforts and attain positive results. This was an unforgettable experience for me.
    Further, although my tenure as director of the Defense Intelligence Headquarters lasted for only seven and a half months, I felt that this position was my calling in life, because I had always regarded intelligence to be a crucial component of national security and the basis of all SDF's activities and defense buildup.

How do you intend to accomplish your duties as chief of staff of the ASDF in the future?
The first thing I have to do is to steadfastly create an atmosphere and a system under which members of the ASDF can undergo training and fulfill their duties with pride and confidence.
    My second task is to formulate the next Midterm
Ken'ichiro HokazonoDefense Buildup Program, since the substance of the program will be decided on in the upcoming fiscal year. Fiscal 2009 will be of vital importance in charting the future of the SDF as a whole. I would like to focus my energies on this task.
    I also intend to tackle head-on such issues as reform of the Ministry of Defense, selection of our next mainstay fighters, and the procurement of our next transport planes. These are all crucial issues that will determine the future direction of the SDF.