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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Graduation Ceremony of the National Defense Academy (2012-2013 Academic Year)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

[Provisional Translation]

Today, on this occasion of the commencement from the prestigious National Defense Academy, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the graduating class, who have the honor of bearing responsibility for Japan's national defense.

Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen, on your graduation.

As the Commander in Chief of the Japan Self Defense Forces, I am deeply impressed by and extremely proud of all of you with your highly refined discipline and your valiant manner.

I would also like to express my respect to President Kokubun and the rest of the faculty and staff, who have spared no efforts to cultivate the graduates. Furthermore, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the guests and to the graduates' families for their invariable support for the National Defense Academy.

As the Commander in Chief of the Japan Self Defense Forces and the Prime Minister of Japan, I would like to take this opportunity to make some remarks to the graduating class as they set out to pursue their honorable careers.

I believe many of you remember an accident deemed "the Miracle on the Hudson" that occurred on January 15, 2009, when an airliner immediately after takeoff from New York made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, facing the catastrophic case of engine shutdown.

The flight's pilot, Captain Sullenberger, remained on board as the last to leave the aircraft after securing the safety of his 115 passengers and his crew. In response to the praise being showered on him, he stated, "We were simply doing the job we were trained to do."

He had no aspiration for fame. He had only a sense of duty and of responsibility as the captain for the lives of his passengers and his crew.

As a former Air Force pilot, he also said, "My entire life up to that moment had been a preparation to handle that particular moment."

The "Miracle on the Hudson" did not come about by sheer chance. Instead, it was a natural result brought about by Captain Sullenberger's strenuous efforts and training predicated upon his strong sense of duty and responsibility.

To perform one's duty flawlessly at "a once in a lifetime moment."

I know this requires a tremendous amount of effort. However, I would like all of you as prospective officers to temper yourselves by always bearing this in mind.

Needless to say, more than anything else, the ideal situation would be preventing the "once in a lifetime moment" from coming to pass.

However, should "that moment" come, it is our unchangeable determination to save the lives and property of our nationals, and it is our unalterable resolve to protect our territory, territorial waters and territorial airspace at any cost. It is my expectation that all of you go through your training and missions, however arduous, by engraving this sense of duty in your minds.

The national security situation surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe.

Unlike four years ago when you began your studies at the National Defense Academy, there are ongoing provocations against Japan's territorial rights at present.

The situations in your future areas of engagement are cold reality and "a crisis of the here and now."

At this very moment, those officers you are going to follow are admirably carrying out their duties with unfailing patience and great dignity, despite rough seas, turbulence, and mire.

As the Commander in Chief, I am determined to stand at the fore of these men and women, fully defending the lives and assets of our nationals as well as our territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace in a resolute manner.

We will increase defense-related budget for the first time in eleven years. In the future, we will conduct a review of the National Defense Program Guidelines and work to enhance the Self Defense Forces' response capacity in Japan's southwestern region and elsewhere.

Through my talks with President Obama the other day, we have also fully revived the close Japan-U.S. alliance. Together with you, the graduating class, Japan must fulfill an additional role in order to enhance the deterrence grounded in the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements.

The Japanese people and I are always on your side. I expect that every one of you will do your duty wherever you are with this spirit of self-confidence and pride.

It is an honor to see at this ceremony students from Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam who have successfully completed their study here at the NDA.

It is unquestionable that you international students are treasures of your homelands. You are also indispensable bridges of friendship between Japan and your home countries.

I strongly hope that you develop firm friendships cemented here through these invaluable days with your fellow students, and I wish you all successful careers after you return to your home countries.

In closing, I would like to offer this quote to the members of the graduating class, who are embarking on their professional lives from today.

"It is not the critic who counts.... The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds."

These are the words of Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, who in the Spanish-American War led a volunteer regiment that he himself had recruited, leaping into the battlefield for the sake of his country.

To the graduates, I want you to apply yourselves fully in your respective areas of responsibility, with a spirit of self-confidence and pride. Devote yourselves single-mindedly to your duties in this noble area of work, namely, the defense of the people and the nation.

And, to the families of the graduates, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you as the Commander in Chief for sending off on their missions these graduates, your children, who are irreplaceable treasures for you. As you entrust them to us, I pledge to take all possible means to enable them to execute their duties properly and to cultivate them as officers you can be proud of.

Finally, I would like to thank the guests attending today for their unwavering support for the NDA and also extend my best wishes for the graduates as they set off on their noble careers.

Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
March 17, 2013

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