Activities of female SDF personnel in international peace cooperation activities in
Timor-Leste

SDF personnel blowing bubbles with village children
SDF personnel blowing bubbles with village children
SDF personnel folding origami with a local female police officer.
SDF personnel folding origami with a local female police officer.

The Ministry of Defense and the SDF have currently dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Kurita and Captain Kawatani to the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) as military liaison officers. Lieutenant Colonel Kurita is the first SDF female personnel to be dispatched on an individual basis to a United Nations mission. In Timor-Leste, she visits border observation points and villages in her district of jurisdiction to gather information on the security situation and other information while making use of her unique perspectives as a woman.

The Ministry of Defense and the SDF recognized to be greatly significant to dispatch female personnel in terms of meeting the United Nations’ needs of utilizing the female perspectives in missions or promoting gender equality , and thus continue to actively dispatch female personnel to international peace cooperation activities.

Anti-piracy measures off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden

MSDF destroyer Sazanami carrying out an escort mission.
MSDF destroyer Sazanami carrying out an escort mission.

Japanese facility for counter-piracy mission in Djibouti

On June 1, Japanese facility for counter-piracy was set up in the Republic of Djibouti in the east of Africa. The setting up of this facility would facilitate the stable operation of P3C patrol aircraft engaged in surveillance activities in the Gulf of Aden.

The new facility is situated north of the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, and comprises commanding headquarters, personnel quarters, hangars for the maintenance of P3C aircraft, sports gymnasiums for personnel, and other facilities. An estimated total of 4.7 billion yen has been invested into the construction of the facility. Previously, the squadrons had shared the use of U.S. Forces air bases. However, on top of the fact that the runway for patrol aircraft had been far away, the lack of hangars for the maintenance of aircraft had meant that personnel sometimes had to work on the aircraft under daytime temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celcius. In contrast, the new facility is not only located close to the runway; it is also equipped with hangars for aircraft maintenance. In addition, living conditions have improved significantly for personnel–from receiving food supplies from the U.S. Forces previously, to having its own dining hall and medical office at the new base.

Overview of anti-piracy operations (March to June)

Escort operations conducted by surface units off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden

Operational Activity from March to June 2011

  1. Number of escort operations: 34 (The 225th to the 258th escort operations) (The 184th to the 217th escort operations under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Measures Law)
  2. Number of escorted vessels: 303 (Accumulated total of 1,858 since the commencement of escort operations based on the Anti-Piracy Measures Law)

[Breakdown]

Japanese - registered ships: 2 (Accumulated total of 12)
Foreign ships operated by Japanese shipping companies: 57 (Accumulated total of 424) (Out of the 57 ships, Japanese citizens were on board 2 ships)
Foreign ships other than the above: 244 (Accumulated total of 1,422) (Out of 244 foreign ships, Japanese citizens were on board 2 ships)

  1. *The above record does not include the 1st-41st escort operations performed as Maritime Security Activities, which were performed before the establishment of the Anti-Piracy Measures Law.
  2. *Of those listed above, 235 ships (235 other foreign ships) were considered not to be within the context of escort operations for Maritime Security Activities.

P-3C patrol operations off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden

On April 22, the Sixth Air Unit (commanded by Captain Masaaki Moritake and consisting of approx. 180 personnel), which is conducting surveillance flights from Djibouti in East Africa, flew its 450th mission, starting with when operations started with the First Air Unit.

Operational Activity from March to June

  1. Number of flights: 70 (Accumulated total of 488)
  2. Flight hours: Approximately 570 (Accumulated total of approximately 3,790 hours)
  3. Number of commercial ships confirmed: Approximately 5,740 (Accumulated total of approximately 36,370)
  4. Number of times information was provided to escort ships, foreign vessels, and civilian commercial ships: Approximately 670 (Accumulated total of approximately 4,450)

One example of the MSDF’s information provision activities was on April 12 when it received information that a commercial ship was under attack by an unidentified ship. A German naval P-3C had been monitoring the unidentified ship, however, due to engine trouble an MSDF P-3C that was conducting surveillance operations in the Gulf of Aden at the time took over for the German aircraft and continued to monitor the unidentified ship. DD Sazanami, an MSDF destroyer in the vicinity, dispatched one of its helicopters to confirm the situation. The helicopter detected the unidentified ship (seven passengers and large numbers of ladders and fuel tanks onboard) and visually confirmed that ladders had been disposed of in the sea. The unidentified ship turned around and distanced itself from the commercial ship, and the DD Sazanami helicopter turned over response to the Turkish Navy.

In addition, on June 15 a P-3C conducting surveillance flights discovered a suspicious looking skiff (one ladder, many polyethylene tanks, and no fishing equipment). The P-3C notified a nearby U.S. vessel. Upon reconfirmation, the P-3C discovered that the skiff had five people aboard and that the ladders were now missing. The P-3C continued to confirm the situation based on a request received from the U.S. vessel, which had now arrived at the scene, then turned over response to the U.S. vessel and resumed its warning and surveillance mission.

Maritime Self-Defense Force Training Squadron

Vessels departing for a deep sea exercise.
Vessels departing for a deep sea exercise.

The FY2011 Training Squadron of the Maritime Self-Defense Force departed from Tokyo on May 24 for a fivemonth voyage to North, Central, and South America.

The Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral Umio Otsuka, comprised training vessels “Kashima” and “Asagiri,” as well as destroyer “Mineyuki.” A crew of about 730 personnel , including about 180 who have completed the Basic Officer ’ s Course, took up the challenge of the 55,000- kilometer voyage.

After it departed from Tokyo, the Squadron first visited Anchorage in the United States. It then dispersed and docked separately in Seattle and Vancouver, followed by San Francisco and San Diego. After meeting at sea again, the Squadron sailed through the Panama Canal and followed the Caribbean Sea route through Veracruz (Mexico), Tampa and Norfolk (United States), Halifax (Canada), Valparaiso (Chile), Callao (Peru), and Mansaniyo (Mexico), and docked at Pearl Harbor. The Squadron is scheduled to return to Harumi in Tokyo on 27 October.

Entrance Ceremony for New Class- I and II Recruits for FY2011

New recruits taking an oath.
New recruits taking an oath.

On 1 April, a combined entrance ceremony for 123 new Class- I and II recruits joining the Ministry in FY2011 was held at the Ministry of Defense. The ceremony was attended by Defense Minister Kitazawa, as well as senior officials including Parliamentary Senior Vice-Defense Minister Ogawa, Parliamentary Vice-Defense Ministers Matsumoto and Hirota, Administrative Vice-Defense Minister Nakae, and Director General of the Minister’s Secretariat Kanazawa.

The ceremony commenced with a moment of silence for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, followed by a speech from the Defense Minister providing advice and guidance to the new recruits. Thereafter, the recruits were presented with their letters of appointment and sworn-in.

In his speech to the new recruits, Defense Minister Kitazawa said, “As the Government works as one to deal with an earthquake of such unprecedented scale, the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces have gained a heightened awareness of their role as the last stronghold protecting the citizens. As such, your predecessors are working hard in the undertaking of various activities. For all of you who have become a part of the Ministry of Defense, I hope that you will carry out your duties with a sense of mission in order to meet the expectations of the citizens. This is the first year in which we take steps to realize the goals laid out in the new National Defense Program Guidelines, and you are the ones who will become the core of a group of outstanding personnel armed with great knowledge and insight. You have joined the Ministry at a time when the true value of the Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces is being questioned, and I hope that you will treasure what you are feeling now.”

After the recruits had received their letters of appointment, Rie Endo represented the new recruits in taking the oath. Following that, Administrative Vice-Defense Minister Nakae gave the new recruits a word of encouragement, saying, “You have all joined the Ministry of Defense just as the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces are working as one in response to this unprecedented situation. You will be able to learn much by closely observing your predecessors who battle against this national crisis.”

Introduction of New Equipment

GSDF Training Helicopter TH-480B

A ribbon-cutting ceremony.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On February 25, the TH-480B (manufactured by US company Enstrom Helicopter Corporation) that will serve as the training helicopter for the GSDF was delivered to the Ministry of Defense, and a delivery ceremony was held at the JAMCO Corporation’s maintenance facility in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.

On February 27, the first unit was ferried to Camp Akeno by a three-person crew led by Major Hiromichi Irifune. The next day, on February 28, an event was held to commemorate the receipt of the helicopter by about 300 SDF personnel under Major General Yuichi Fukumori, Principal of the Aviation School and Commander of Camp Akeno.

30 units of the TH-480B, the next-generation training helicopter that holds up to four people, are scheduled to be introduced into Camp Kita-Utunomiya in the near future.

Helicopter Destroyer “Ise”

Helicopter destroyer Ise
Helicopter destroyer Ise

On March 16, the helicopter destroyer “Ise” projected in 2006 was delivered to MDSF and the MSDF flag ceremony was held at the IHI Marine United Yokohama Shipyard in Yokohama City.

“Ise” is the second destroyer of “Hyuga” class that is the largest class with 13,950 tons at standard. It has the flight deck with enough length to arrange 4 landing spots for helicopters of GSDF, ASDF, Japan Coast Guard, police,fire department etc. other than MSDF. Thus it is possible to respond rapidly and flexibly to disasters and emergencies.

At the ceremony, the MSDF Chief of Staff Sugimoto handed over the Self-Defense Fleet flag to the first Commanding Officer, Captain Ryoichi Hoshiyama, and the destroyer was commissioned. It was deployed to the 4th MSDF Escort Flotilla at Kure.

Next-generation transport aircraft XC-2 (second test aircraft)

XC-2
XC-2

Forty years have passed since the existing transport aircraft C-1 owned by the ASDF commenced operation. With a view to replacing this aircraft in order to enhance military transportation capability and participate actively in peacekeeping activities, a budget for has been set aside for the introduction of two next-generation transport aircraft XC-2 in the budget for this fiscal year. This aircraft is the largest transport aircraft ever developed by Japan, and has a transportation capacity of 30 tons–three times that of the C-1. It also has a flight range of 6,500km when fully loadedapproximately four times that of the C-1. It is scheduled to be deployed to Miho Air Base in future. For now, the Ministry of Defense’s Technical Research and Development Institute, in cooperation with the ASDF, is conducting test flights.

Circular Flying Object
Circular Flying Object
Circular Flying Object

go to the Movie Gallery

The world’s first circular flying object, which garnered much attention at the Defense Technology Symposium 2010 held in Tokyo in November 2010 as well a s at other events, was invented by Fumiyuki Sato at the Technical Research and Development Institute’s Advanced Defense Technology Center. He has also put much effort into conducting research and development on the flying object. The sphere, with a diameter of 42cm, is able to hover, fly horizontally, and make transitional flights. It is also able to fly at low altitudes in the city, forests, or indoors, and can move in an agile manner, including tumbling forward on the ground. The flying sphere is able to approach close to the target that it is observing and capture detailed images of the target through the small-sized camera that has been built into the sphere. As such, there are also high expectations for the active utility of the object in areas such as disaster relief and counterterrorism activities.

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