Defense Activities

Departure and appointment of the Ministry’s top three politicians

Defense Minister Ichikawa giving an address at his appointment ceremony
Defense Minister Ichikawa giving an address at his appointment ceremony
Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense Shu Watanabe
Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of
Defense Shu Watanabe
Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Mitsu Shimojo
Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Mitsu Shimojo
Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Hideo Jinpu
Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Hideo Jinpu

In the new Cabinet under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who was officially appointed as the 95th Prime Minister on September 2, a member of the House of Councilors Yasuo Ichikawa was appointed as the 9th Minister of Defense, taking the place of outgoing Minister Toshimi Kitazawa. On September 5, members of the House of Representatives Shu Watanabe was appointed as the Senior Vice-Minister of Defense, and members of the House of Representatives Mitsu Shimojo and Hideo Jinpu were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries for Defense.

On the morning of September 5, a farewell ceremony was conducted for outgoing Minister Kitazawa. In his message, he said, “Under the DPJ, we have succeeded in formulating the National Defense Program Guidelines and the new Mid-Term Defense Program. I will continue to pay close attention to defense problems in the future.” He then expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Defense and SDF personnel for their cooperation during his tenure.

Incoming Minister Ichikawa assumed office on the afternoon of the same day. He received a salute from the Guard of Honor at the guard square, and presented flowers at the monument for fallen soldiers. Thereafter, his appointment ceremony was conducted at the hall, where he addressed approximately 800 key Defense personnel for the first time.

In the address marking his appointment, Minister Ichikawa quoted six items directed by the Prime minister Noda. First he would secure peace and safety for Japan while ensuring civilian control based on the principle of an exclusively defense oriented policy, and second, build up a dynamic defense force based on the new National Defense Program Guidelines and new Mid-Term Defense Program. Third he also committed to deepening and developing the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and fourth to take the necessary measures to accelerate efforts to relocate Futenma Air Station and reduce the burden imposed by the U.S. bases on Okinawa, based on agreements between Japan and the United States and the decisions of the Cabinet. Fifth he also asserted his will to take proactive measures with regard to UN peacekeeping operations and countermeasures against piracy. And the last, he mentioned, in light of the experience from the Great East Japan Earthquake—to make preparations to engage intitial response for disaster relief operations, and to make all efforts to protect the lives and property of the people. On top of that, he expressed that he would push forward, with the respective government officials, on the formulation of policies and the implementation of measures, in order to meet the requirements set out by the Prime Minister in a steadfast manner. Next, he expressed movements by neighboring countries continue to pose great concern to Japan. In order to bring to realization the key points for defense that have been laid out in the new National Defense Program Guidelines and new Mid-Term Defense Program, Minister Ichikawa emphasized his volition to tackle these challenging issues together with the Ministry with bold, new ways of thinking, rather than with the concept of “we have always done it this way.”

Thereafter, at the press conference held after an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, Minister Ichikawa responded to questions pertaining to issues such as the deepening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the relocation of Futenma Air Station, and responses to China’s growing military strength. He said that Japan-U.S. relations serve as the cornerstone in all areas. In particular, he identified it as the most important factor in the area of security. With regard to the Futenma issue, he demonstrated a desire to persist in efforts, commenting that it would be undesirable for Futenma Air Station to become a permanent fixture, and expressing his will to move forward on the resolution of the issue with a view to reducing the burden on Okinawa Prefecture. On the topic of China’s actions, he said that while China is enjoying rapid economic growth, he has heard that it has undertaken certain incomprehensible acts close to Japan in tandem with the heightening of its economic prowess. Japan-China relations are important, and he hopes to further enhance the relationship of trust, and put in his best efforts from that perspective.

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