Japan Ministry of Defense


 
Chief of Staff, Amiral Sugimoto talking about his plans
No.19 NOVEMBER 2010

Chief of Staff, Amiral Sugimoto talking about his plans

30th Chief of Staff, Maritime Self-Defense Force, Admiral, Masahiko Sugimoto

Admiral Masahiko Sugimoto, the former Commander in Chief of the Self-Defense Fleet, was appointed as the 30th Chief of Staff, Maritime Self-Defense Force on July 26. We interviewed him on his duties as the Chief of Staff.

—Could you tell us about the duties of the Maritime Staff Office and the Chief of Staff the Maritime Self-Defense Force?

The Maritime Staff Office is an important organization that draws up plans relating to the defense and security of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, supports the Defense Minister, and makes decisions on all aspects including unit duties, education and welfare for personnel except joint and unit operations.

The Maritime Staff Office is an important organization that draws up plans relating to the defense and security of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, supports the Defense Minister, and makes decisions on all aspects including unit duties, education and welfare for personnel except joint and unit operations.

As the chief of the Maritime Staff Office, my role is to put utmost effort into performing my duties, as well as to support the Defense Minister in various aspects, and to work toward enhancing capabilities of organization.

The mission of the Self-Defense Force is to ensure Japan’s peace, independence and safety. However, it is important to defend not only Japan’s territory, but also the surrounding water in order to secure the sea lanes of transportation for trade stability. Currently, 99% of Japan’s trade activity is made by surface transportation. We have a significant role in securing the safety of maritime traffic. In recent years, I think that it has become particularly important to build the trust in confidence-building with other countries through defense exchanges and defense cooperation, and to constantly create an environment that is free from potential threat.

—Could you tell us your plans in taking up this appointment?

Ensuring territory and the surrounding water of Japan is the primary mission for defense of Japan. However, in recent years, there has been increasing number of missions such as disaster relief activities in Japan, and international disaster relief activities overseas such as in Pakistan, as well as anti-piracy operations off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. It is my wishes, in taking up this appointment, to strengthen the forces so as to be able to respond adequately to these situations and meet the expectations from people. It will be challenging to strengthen the units in the efficient manner amidst the tight fiscal circumstances, I am ready to do my best.

—Could you tell us about some of the issues faced on the mission?

Under the constantly changing international environment, in addition to the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s primary mission of defending Japanese territory and the surrounding water, we have been more increasingly undertaking the missions to be required to cooperate with the international society, such as operations to ensure freedom in the use of seas, as well as building more stable security environment.

In such a circumstance, I believe we have to respond to changes with greater flexibility in various aspects. If we fail to do so, I feel a sense of crisis that our organization may not survive.

Henceforth, I believe that it is essential to build up even stronger trust by driving the necessary reforms and changing the organization which be able to respond flexibly to any situations with collecting wisdoms from all personnel in MSDF.