Mine Warfare Exercise and Japan-U.S. Bilateral Minesweeping Exercise
From November 18th to 28th, the JMSDF conducted a mine warfare exercise and a Japan-U.S. bilateral mine sweeping exercise in Hyuganada, off the coast of Miyazaki Prefecture.
The JMSDF sent 19 ships from the Mine Warfare Force (2 minesweeper tenders, 2 minesweeper oceans, and 15 minesweepers), 3 MCH-101 aircrafts and about 1,200 members, and the U.S. Navy sent its minesweeper and about 10 explosive ordinance disposal divers for this exercise.
This exercise is the large scale bilateral exercise for minesweeping which has been conducted almost every year since 1997. Mine warfare training such as mine laying, minesweeping, and diving training were conducted upon taking the appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID19 for this year.
The exercise was aimed at maintaining the mine warfare capabilities of the JMSDF, and strengthening cooperation with the U.S. Navy.
The JMSDF Mine Warfare Force that participated in this exercise is headquartered in Yokosuka and is composed of Minesweeper Division 1 (stationed in Yokosuka); Minesweeper Division 2 (stationed in Sasebo); Minesweeper Division 3 and Landing Ship Division 1, which specializes in marine transport (stationed in Kure); and the Amphibious and Mine Warfare Center, JMSDF (Headquarter stationed in Yokosuka). Following the reorganization of the new force, the 101st Minesweeper Division (which was stationed in Kure) was disbanded on October 1st. The JMSDF newly established Amphibious and Mine Warfare Center by adding new missions, such as providing tactical support and development for amphibious warfare and educational support for air cushion vehicle operators, to the former Mine Warfare Operations Support Division.
Naming and Launching Ceremony of JS Kumano
On November 19th, the naming and launching ceremony was held at Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. Tamano Shipyard for a new type of destroyer. The destroyer was named Kumano.
The new type of destroyer is equipped with multi-mission capabilities to engage in various operations including mine warfare, in addition to conventional ones, such as warning and surveillance. Also, compared to the destroyer of the JMSDF, whose complement is approx. 200, the number reduced to approx. 90 for JS Kumano due to downsizing of the body and other factors.
The JMSDF destroyers are named after weather/climate, mountains, rivers or regions. The latest destroyer was named after Kumano river, which is part of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, a World Heritage Site.
The MOD/JSDF will continue to make headway toward building a new defense posture with 54 destroyers on the basis of the National Defense Program Guidelines.
Recent Senior-Level Teleconferences
1. Defense Minister’s Teleconferences
Minister Kishi held a video teleconference with Secretary of National Defense of the Republic of the Philippines, Hon. Mr. Delfin N. Lorenzana., as well as with Minister of Defence of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Ltgen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto on October 23rd and November 2nd respectively. In these meetings, the Ministers exchanged views on the regional security issues, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law. They also exchanged views on bilateral defense cooperation and exchanges including promoting defense cooperation in the context of preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
In addition, Minister Kishi held a video teleconference with German Federal Minister of Defence, Kramp-Karrenbauer on November 10th. Minister Kishi welcomed and highly appreciated the “Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region” released by Germany, and he expressed high expectation for Germany’s commitment in the region. The two Ministers also concurred in maintaining close communication between respective defense authorities and proactively promoting defense cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
On November 14th, Minister Kishi held a telephone conversation with Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Miller. They exchanged views on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, including the East and South China Seas as well as North Korea, and confirmed that the U.S and Japan will continue to work closely together for the sake of peace and stability in the region.
Moreover, Minister Kishi held a video teleconference with Minister of Defence of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Ngo Xuan Lich on November 16th. They concurred in promoting bilateral defense cooperation in the context of preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including sharing expertise and lessons learned during disaster relief operations, in light of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Chief of staff, Joint Staff
On November 11th, General Yamazaki, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, had a teleconference with General Bipin RAWAT, Chief of Defence Staff of Indian Armed Forces. In this teleconference, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance to increase alignment and cooperation between the two nations for promoting the “Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership” to make a further leap forward, and advance defense cooperation and engagement with quadrilateral relations based on the shared view of “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” among Japan, India, the United States and Australia.
On November 19th, General Yamazaki had a trilateral video teleconference with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley and Chairman of the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff General Won In-Choul.
The senior military leaders agreed to continue working together to address mutual security issues and increase multilateral cooperation while sharing the vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” in order to enhance peace and stability in the region.
3. Chief of Staff, JGSDF
On October 28th, General Yuasa, Chief of Staff, JGSDF held a teleconference with German Army Lieutenant General Alfons Mais. The leaders exchanged their opinions actively on the security environment, defense cooperation and exchange between the armed forces of Japan and Germany based on partnership and shared fundamental values. They also agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the future.
4. Chief of Staff, JMSDF
On November 2nd, Admiral Yamamura and Admiral MARGONO, COS, Indonesia Navy held a video teleconference. After discussing the past Japan-Indonesia defense cooperation achievements, both agreed to further strengthen the relationship between the both navies.
On November 13th, Admiral Yamamura and VADM McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy held a video teleconference. This is their first meeting since they met last October at Regional Seapower Symposium in Italy. Both admirals agreed to continue a close cooperation even under COVID-19 situation.
On November 16th, Admiral Yamamura and VADM KRAUSE, Chief of the German Navy, held a video teleconference. This is their first meeting since they met last October at Regional SeaPower Symposium in Italy. Both agreed to further strengthen their cooperation to engage more actively in the Indo-Pacific region.
5. Chief of Staff, JASDF
On October 30th, General Izutsu, Chief of Staff, JASDF held a video conference with Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force. The two leaders agreed they would continue to deepen mutual friendship and defense cooperation and exchange to realize the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.