Japan Ministry of Defense

Chief of Staff, the Joint Staff General Ryoichi Oriki

Japan Defense Focus No.15

Chief of Staff, GSDF General Yoshifumi Hibako
General Hibako graduated from the National Defense Academy of Japan and entered the GSDF in 1974. He was appointed the 32nd Chief of Staff of the GSDF in 2009.



Interview : Chief of Staff, GSDF General Yoshifumi Hibako

In March of this year, General Yoshifumi Hibako was appointed as the 32nd Chief of Staff, Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF). We asked the General about the mission of the GSDF.

— First of all, please tell us about the role of the Chief of Staff, GSDF.

My role is to assist as the highest GSDF professional advisor to the Minister of Defense in addition to supervising the administration, education and training of the GSDF under the Minister's guidance and supervision. The Chief of Staff, GSDF assumes responsibility for personnel affairs, education, training, equipment and build-up of defense capability of the GSDF while coordinating as a "force provider" with the Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Office which is a "force user".

The GSDF is responsible not only for national defense and disaster response but is also proactively engaged in international peace cooperation activities, so I consider that expansion of these activities is another important duty. Furthermore, the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements are a fundamental part of Japan's defense so it is also essential to coordinate closely with the U.S. military and prepare for response to diverse situations.

— What role do you think the GSDF should play in the international community?

The international community is currently faced with a range of issues such as the international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and complex & diverse regional conflicts. In addition, the interdependence of countries and regions is growing with the spread of information networks and economic globalization, so even events which occur in regions far from Japan may have impact upon and be a threat to our nation.

It is difficult for a single country to address a global threat on its own. It is essential to approach such issues from various fields rather than simply from a military aspect. so the international community needs to work together. This is, I consider that working towards the peace and stability of the international community in concert with other countries is an role of the GSDF which is as important as eliminating direct aggression against Japan.

In August of this year, we invited the chiefs of Army from some 20 nations in the Asia-Pacific Region to hold a conference under the joint sponsorship with U.S. on the theme of international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in natural and humaninduced disasters. At the conference, Japan, which has many natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, was highly acclaimed by the participants for its achievements of disaster relief operations. I believe that the information shared at the conference will be utilized in the future operations of participating nations.

— Which of your missions to date has been particularly memorable?

I can clearly recall my missions during the dispatch of the GSDF to Iraq to support reconstruction efforts. At the time I was the Chief of Staff of the GSDF Northern Army, I participated in the dispatch of the first and second detachments from the beginning of the preparation to the end of their mission.

That was a mission under the environment which the SDF had never experienced, so I had to consider everything from scratch such as what preparations to make, what training to implement, and what equipment to provide; and then made necessary coordination through consultation with my staff.

As a result, we were able to provide detailed support from the viewpoint of the local Iraqi residents. We managed to make a significant contribution to Iraq's post-war reconstruction which was highly evaluated both within our country and overseas.

I also clearly recall the moment when our troops returned safely to the airport after compl e t ing the i r ope r a t ions . The wonderful smiles on everyone's faces were proof of the sense of fulfillment they had gained from completing their mission. I was truly very moved when I saw those faces, and was so glad to have achieved our mission in safety.

— Finally, what are the challenges which lay ahead?

Today there is a high possibility that instability in one country or region will transcend its border and spread over the world. Acts of terrorism or large-scale natural disasters could also strike Japan at any time. Under these circumstances, the GSDF is required to maintain physical and mental readiness to respond to any situation, act immediately in the face of danger and gain a good result without fail.

In order to do so, I believe that it is necessary to sincerely carry out what needs to be done while anticipating tougher missions, and to strive towards the development of strong units and personnel with a high degree of morale to enable them to complete their mission while maintaining their strength, as well as a strong sense of solidarity and discipline.


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