FY2014 New Year's Greetings by Defense Minister Onodera

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FY2014 New Year's Greetings by Defense Minister Onodera

A Happy new year, everyone.
I am honored to make a new year's greetings in front of you.

First, I would like to encourage you, who are steadily engaged in your mission in and out of the country.

Last year, Tokyo was chosen to host 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, which was delightful news for us.

On the other hand, the security environment surrounding Japan went severe by some incidents such as Chinese naval vessel directing its fire-control radar at a MSDF vessel, China's establishment of the Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea which disrupt the flight in high seas and international airspace, and repeated violation of territorial waters by the Chinese vessels, while North Korea repeated its military provocation including the execution of nuclear tests.

Unprecedented natural disasters such as a heavy rainfall and typhoon hit Japan and oversea nations. Disaster Relief Unit was dispatched to the Izu Oshima Island which was stricken severely by typhoon, and the International Disaster Relief Unit was organized in a largest ever scale to deal with the disaster in the Philippines. I believe that this was a chance for Japan to make use of SDF's high disaster relief capacity and to show our gratitude in return of their support in the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Since taking office as a Defense Minister, I myself inspected more than 50 camps and bases throughout Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, to encourage you directly and to check out the severe security environment in person. Many of you had a serious look to accomplish your mission. I also had a chance to meet officers who had devotedly contributed to the relief activities in the aftermath of Great East Japan Earthquake, including my hometown, Kesennuma city of Miyagi prefecture.

I am honored to have such reliable people like you, here with me today to start my second year as a Defense Minister.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces. The following steps are the main theme which we should deal with in this commemorative year.

First one is the building up of the defense capability corresponding to the severe security environment we face now.

At the end of the last year, National Security Committee was newly launched as a control tower of the diplomatic and security policy. The first ever "National Security Strategy" which will be the fundamental policy of diplomacy and security was formulated after a debate among the NSC. Based on the NSS, National Defense Program Guideline and Mid Term Defense Program were fixed.
Following this policy, with a strong will to determinedly protect the lives and property of our people, and to defend our land, sea, and airspace, we need to raise our deterrence and response capabilities, while having a sufficient defense capability to meet with expectations, by securing necessary and adequate amount of "quality" and "quantity" of defense capability. For this reason, we will build up a"Dynamic Joint Defense Force," while placing emphasis on developing advanced technology and information, command and communications capabilities and achieving readiness, mobility, flexibility, sustainability, robustness and connectivity in terms of both tangible and intangible resources as well as giving consideration to the establishment of broad infrastructure for logistical support.

While giving thoughts to the enhancement of integrated function, we will focus on the following abilities when building up our joint defense capabilities such as; early warning and surveillance, information function, transmission capacity, command control and telecommunication, measures to deal with an attack to the off shore islands, countermeasures to the ballistic missile attack, outer space and cyber space, response to the massive disaster, and commitment to the peace keeping operations.

Second is the strengthening of the crisis management capability which enables us to deal with various emergency situations, promptly and accurately.
The Self-Defense Forces Law was revised after learning a lesson from an incident in Algeria last year. In addition to the previous means of transportation such as aircraft and vessels, this revision made it possible to transport Japanese nationals overseas by vehicle, enabling the SDF to more flexibly respond to an emergency situation overseas.

To deal with North Korea's various provocative activities including the implication of missile launch, we deployed necessary units in order to deal with such threat. From now on too, it is necessary to maintain and enhance the state of immediate readiness to protect the lives and property of our people.

We will continuously engage in the ordinal surveillance activities and heighten the effectively of the preparedness to various situation, since in six years from now, Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will take place and Japan's security would be the platform of the success of those events.

Third point is the strengthening of Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Japan-U.S. Alliance is important not only for Japan's security, but for peace and stability of Asia-Pacific region. Based on the direction which was provided at the historical Japan-U.S. 2+2 meeting held in October last year by the four Ministers, we will further more strengthen our relationship by amending the guidelines as well as expanding the defense cooperation in the fields of ballistic missile, cyber and joint operation. At the same time, we will steadily implement the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan, including mitigating the impact on Okinawa, while maintaining the deterrence of the U.S. forces.

As of Osprey, we will keep seeking on the chance to relocate the training site outside of Okinawa prefecture, and make the most of various opportunities such as the joint exercises between the SDF.

Finally, active measures to stabilize the international security.
We will promote defense cooperation and exchanges with nations which we share basic values such as liberty and democracy and national security interests. Last year, I visited many nations in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Russia to make stronger relationships with them. Furthermore, I would like to tighten our relationship through various opportunities. In relation to China, we will steadily move forward to build maritime communications mechanism to prevent unprecedented accident. We will continue to approach through dialogues.
As a proactive contributor to peace based on the principle of international cooperation, we will continuously engage in activities such as anti-piracy measures which is an important element for the security of the sea as a maritime nation. With regard to the PKO activities among the UNMISS, which we expanded the activity areas last year, we will closely watch the situation on site and maintain our efforts there.

Thanks to you and your precursor's efforts over 60 years, the SDF has become a very highly praised organization in and out of the country, receiving hopes and expectations from a large portion of our nationals.
By starting a new year, I hope each of you dedicates yourself to your duty to respond to the expectations of nationals while strictly observing rules. With a high level of awareness that you are protecting our nation and foundation of the lives of nationals, I would like to ask you to attain your utmost efforts.

I will also renew my minds to determinedly protect the lives and property of our people, and to defend our land, sea, and airspace. I am also determined to dedicate myself to my duty with all my heart and mind and strength.

Again, I strongly wish 2014 to be a fruitful one to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces.
Thank you.

January 6, 2014
Defense Minister Itsunori ONODERA

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