Address by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio at the Graduation Ceremony of the National Defense Academy

March 27, 2022
[Provisional Translation]

1. Introduction

Today, at the graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to you, all the graduates. I will also deliver my remarks to you, who will shoulder responsibilities central to Japan’s national defense in the future in the midst of an increasingly severe international situation in which Russian aggression against Ukraine, an outrageous act undermining the foundation of the international order, is taking place.

2. The situation in Ukraine

The foundation of the international order, built by the international community atop determined efforts and numerous sacrifices over a great many years, is now threatened by Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine. 

Depending on how the situation develops, the world, and Japan as well, may encounter the greatest crisis since the Second World War.

Japan condemns Russia in the strongest terms, and we have been agile in imposing stringent sanctions commensurate with the situation as it develops, in coordination with the G7 as well as the international community as a whole.

I myself attended the G7 summit meeting that was held in a face-to-face format the other day. There, we once again demonstrated to the international community the determined unity of the G7. In visits I made to India and Cambodia, I also confirmed with my counterparts that we must not allow unilateral changes to the status quo by force in any region of the world.

Moreover, in order to demonstrate Japan’s firm solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who are doing their utmost in taking action to fight against aggression and defend their homeland, we have been providing support to Ukraine with strong determination. Our Self-Defense Forces have provided bulletproof vests, helmets, winter battle dress uniform, emergency rations, and other items.

The choices and actions of Japan and the rest of the international community in the present will determine the feature of the international order from now on. As we approach that kind of major turning point in the times, the international community must unite and resolutely counter unilateral changes to the status quo by force.

In addition, unilateral changes to the status quo by force like the one now being attempted are absolutely unacceptable in the Indo-Pacific, especially in East Asia. This point is of the utmost importance from the standpoint of Japan’s future diplomacy and security as well.

I want you in the graduating class, solidly equipped with this crisis awareness and situation recognition, also to shoulder some of the gravest responsibilities of the Government, namely, ensuring the survival of the nation and fully defending the lives and property of the Japanese people.
3. Reviewing our National Security Strategy

Our current National Security Strategy was drawn up roughly eight years ago. Over these eight years, the security environment surrounding Japan has changed dramatically, becoming markedly more severe, with Russian aggression against Ukraine a readily evident example.

North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles at a high frequency and has recently been launching missiles going as far as a new form of ICBM. China has not terminated its attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China or South China Seas; if anything, it has intensified those attempts.

In the face of this severe reality, those who preceded you here at the National Defense Academy are undertaking their duties on the front lines every day, engaged in missile defense, monitoring and surveillance in the East China Sea, scrambles, and other duties, never allowing themselves even a moment’s break from their constant state of alert. Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony of the Japan Coast Guard Academy. Cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and the Coast Guard is becoming even more critical.

In this context, the drafting of a new National Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines, and Mid-Term Defense Program is a matter of urgency. Never averting our eyes from the harsh reality that faces the nation, including the situation in Ukraine, we will accelerate our consideration of these three documents.
And, in order to resolutely and fully defend Japan’s territory, territorial waters, and airspace, as well as the lives and the property of the Japanese people, we will fundamentally reinforce our defense capabilities by examining all options, without excluding any possibilities.

4. The importance of cooperation with allies and like-minded countries

Graduating cadets, in today’s international community, it is not realistic for any one nation to secure its own peace and stability acting alone. This is an age in which international cooperation is called for as a part of realism, as it were; the “realism diplomacy for a new era” that I am pursuing is, truly, grounded in such circumstances.

Most of all, when we find ourselves in a crisis like the one at present, it is of paramount importance that we reinforce our cooperation in concrete terms with partners with whom we share universal values, including freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Japan is in agreement with the United States, our sole ally, that we will further reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which is the cornerstone for regional peace and prosperity. I myself have confirmed this point firmly with President Biden during our meetings. In drafting the new National Security Strategy and other security-related documents, we will discuss the document thoroughly with the U.S. to ensure that it is entirely consistent with the strategies of both Japan and the U.S.

With Australia, this past January, Prime Minister Morrison and I signed the Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement, which will further promote security and defense cooperation between our two countries.

As for European countries, to demonstrate their strong commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, they have dispatched a series of naval vessels to Japan’s surrounding waters, as symbolized by the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth making its first port call to Japan last year.

In this way, cooperation between Japan and its allies and like-minded nations has entered into a new stage. Our alliance and partnerships are much more than simply forging linkages. What is crucial is for us to continually build up our efforts so that our bonds remain highly robust at all times.

You are the point upon which this security cooperation pivots. I want you to take the lead in fostering our bonds with our allies and like-minded countries.

To the international students, I extend my heartfelt respect to you for making it to this day at long last, having experienced challenging times in both your education and your training. I ardently hope you will return to your home countries bringing with you everything you learned here in Japan, and that you serve as a bridge for cooperation with Japan, and that together we will contribute to the peace and stability of the international community.

5. Addressing the graduates’ family members and teachers

To the families of the graduates and others involved in the cadets’ path here, the graduates have all grown to be highly promising. I sincerely appreciate the tremendous support you have given them on a day-to-day basis. They will be taking on challenging but noble duties. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Self-Defense Forces, I will make every possible effort to enable them to execute their missions in any environment.

I also wish to express my deep respect to President Kubo, who is sending off his first class of graduates, and all the faculty and staff serving under him, who have all nurtured these cadets so admirably.

6. Conclusion

To the graduating class, in the face of an increasingly severe international situation, I believe the expectations and the feelings of the Japanese people towards the Self-Defense Forces are becoming even stronger.

 “I will meet the expectations of the Japanese people by striving to complete duties which may involve risking my own life when facing challenges.”

As you etch this oath of service onto your heart once again, you must never forget the powerful awareness that each and every one of you is a stronghold carrying upon your shoulders the lives and the peaceful daily lives of the Japanese people.

I will end my address with my expectations that you will do your utmost to execute your noble duties so that you continue to be members of the Self-Defense Forces who always live up to the trust and expectations placed upon you by the Japanese people.

March 27, 2022
Commander-in-Chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces
Prime Minister of Japan

Related Link

Archives (Archived entries for the 98th through 100th prime ministers)