FY2016 New Year's Greetings by Defense Minister Nakatani


FY2016 New Year's Greetings by Defense Minister Nakatani

(This is a provisional translation)

Happy New Year 2016

The SDF personnel have been engaging their tasks of protecting Japan at various places. Despite year-end and New Year's holidays, respective SDF units have been working day and night. I would like to extend my appreciation.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to all the personnel who are engaged in defense of remote islands near Japan's national boundary, working on vessels on the ocean, patrol and surveillance of submarines, air defense and surveillance at radar sites on top of mountains during snowstorms, patrolling camps and ammunition chambers in the snow, information-related personnel who are collecting information all night long and analyzing to utilize the information for operations, medical service, sanitation, supply, communication, logistics, Provincial Cooperation Offices, engineering, researches, salaries, administrative work, and base service activity. All the SDF personnel are steadily executing their missions and works in wide-ranged fields. Thank you very much.

Last year, I paid visits to a number of units of the GSDF, MSDF, and ASDF. While interacting with the personnel working at each unit, I was able to feel their wholehearted devotion and passion for achieving the missions. The SDF is professional skilled group. As each and every personnel have responsibilities in a lot of areas, they support and cooperate with each other without leaving their assigned positions. The SDF cannot accomplish missions in the absence of even one personnel. The personnel on the sites are actually running and supporting the SDF.

Last year, the Legislation for Peace and Security passed at the Diet. This is because it became necessary to have the Legislation enabling us to respond to any situations seamlessly due to the fact that Japan faces drastically changing security environment. The Legislation aims at improving Japan's deterrence and response capabilities and securing lives and happy livelihoods of Japanese people.

What is deterrence? It means that, in case enemies pose their attack against us, we show our posture that could cause damage on them, and thereby, the enemies abandon the attack itself. In order to make deterrence functional, the enemies need to properly recognize our defense capabilities. To that end, we have to possess solid response capabilities.

The MOD/SDF has been working on building a more effective "Dynamic Joint Defense Force" based on the National Defense Program Guidelines and the Medium Term Defense Program in order to have flexible and prompt responses to various situations. We will make it more effective; this is the first objective this year.

Secondly, we had many natural disasters last year. We received appreciation from various people for SDF's disaster relief dispatches.

"Thank you very much for helping me and my grandma by a helicopter." "I am still thinking of being SDF personnel, who rescue people, when I am grown up." An elementary school boy wrote these words in his letter to the 12th helicopter unit, which conducted rescue operation in the wake of a heavy rain in Kanto and Tohoku regions.

In the wake of a heavy rain in Kanto and Tohoku regions, 7,795 SDF personnel in total devoted themselves to rescue operation of isolated residents and evacuation support by boats around the clock. The SDF personnel were conducting lifesaving operation while putting themselves at risk. Their figures were engraved in many people's hearts. The local communities have felt reassured by the SDF. I would like to ask the SDF personnel for their responses to various disasters in order to steadily improve response capabilities to series of natural disasters and potential large-scale disasters, such as an earthquake occurring directly beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Area and a Nankai Trough earthquake.

Thirdly, turning our eyes to overseas, a terrorist incident involving the murder of Japanese nationals in Syria and series of terrorist attacks in Paris occurred last year. Now, there is a growing risk that confusion occurred in a single country or a region becomes an issue of the international community as a whole. We are making efforts to address it.

Under the banner of "Proactive Contribution to Peace, " the SDF has been conducting tangible activities in the international community. Last year, I encouraged the SDF personnel in the field: those who are engaging in escorting private vessels and conducting surveillance flights in the Gulf of Aden, those who are repairing essential roads for local people's lives in South Sudan, and those who are supporting these activities in various ways. A scene that SDF personnel were patiently carrying out their missions covered with sweat and dust under the scorching sun in remote countries in Africa has been seared into my memory.

The SDF personnel with Japanese flag conducting their activities for peace and stability of the international community in remote and severe environment are truly Japan's "representatives." The MOD/SDF will continue conducting anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden as well as providing cooperation to South Sudan PKO. As the medical assistance conduced in Nepal hit by a large earthquake last year, we will engage in international disaster relief operations with SDF capabilities if receiving a request from another country.

The MOD/SDF will continue dealing with diverse challenges this year. To maintain the motto "Go back to basics" is important at any time. In other words, it is crucial for us to maintain basic posture, not to forget basics, and not to forfeit our places. The SDF is required to have urgent and quick responses at unexpected situations. On that occasion, thoroughness of "basics" is indispensable, such as maintaining disciplines, preventing accidents, and "reporting and communicating" of information.

Today is the first day of work in 2016. It is your start from the beginning at where you are currently standing. Please engage yourself enthusiastically in your work!

I hope that the year of 2016 will be a wonderful year for all the personnel and their family. I strongly wish for the well-being of all the personnel, sound development of the SDF units as well as regional stability and peace and security of our country. Thank you very much.

January 4th, 2016
Defense Minister Gen NAKATANI