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Blue Impulse returns to Matsushima Air Base

On March 31, a returning ceremony of the 11th Squadron (Blue Impulse) at ASDF Matsushima Air Base, attended by the Defense Minister Onodera.

The Blue Impulse squadron based at Matsushima Air Base had moved to and trained at ASDF Ashiya Air Base in Fukuoka Prefecture, after the Matsushima Air Base suffered massive damages due to the Great East Japan Earthquake tsunami, including the flooding of facilities and the sinking of the aircraft.

Before the ceremony commenced, everyone in attendance offered a silent prayer to express condolences to all victims of the disaster and to pray for the repose of their souls.

At the ceremony, the head of the 11th Squadron declared the return of the squadron to Mr. Onodera. He then delivered an address to the returning personnel, expressing his gratitude for their efforts over the past two years who had to leave Matsushima Air Base. He also expressed his appreciation to the local municipalities and to the many residents that passionately requested the squadron’s return. To meet the expectations of the local people and the people across Japan, Mr. Onodera encouraged the personnel to unite under the captain’s direction in engaging in daily trainings and showcasing the high-level skills that they acquired to people all over Japan.

The MOD and SDF are sincerely pleased that the Blue Impulse squadron has returned ? what is also a symbolic event that demonstrates Japan’s steady recovery from the disaster.

Combat firing practice
Heliborne training
Combat firing practice
Heliborne training

Graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy

On March 17, a graduation ceremony was held at the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The National Defense Academy is the only academic institution of higher learning in Japan that educates and trains cadets who will be officers of the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces.

The graduation ceremony is traditionally held with the attendance of the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF. The Prime Minister directly addresses the graduates regarding the expected roles of SDF personnel, as they in the future will become the core members of the SDF. At this year’s graduation ceremony, Prime Minister Abe addressed that graduates must engage in training and missions in preparation for emergencies.

Prime Minister Abe delivering an address
Prime Minister Abe delivering an address
Defense Minister Onodera delivering an address
Defense Minister Onodera delivering an address

Central Readiness Force headquarters relocates to Zama

The Central Readiness Force (CRF) was newly organized in March 2007 to respond to the diversification of SDF missions. It centrally manages combat units, including the 1st Airborne Brigade and specialized units. Presently, the CRF directs the units dispatched to South Sudan.

On March 26, 2013, the CRF headquarters and its affili-ated units were relocated from Camp Asaka to Camp Zama. Camp Zama is the site of the military headquarters of the U.S. army in Japan. This relocation will strengthen the Japan–U.S. partnerships by enabling closer communications and information exchanges between the two countries more than ever before.

Submission of Request for Approval of Public Water Reclamation Concerning Construction of Futenma Replacement Facility

On March 22, pursuant to the Act on Reclamation of Publicly-owned Water Surface, the Okinawa Defense Bureau submitted to the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture the Request for Approval of Public Water Reclamation concerning the construction of the Futenma replacement facility.

This submission marks the start of the steps towards the early realization of the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko in line with the 2006 Japan–U.S. agreement. The U.S. Government commended that this is a key milestone that comes after many years of hard work between the United States and Japan.

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