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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the 2013 Troop Review for the Anniversary of the Establishment of the Self-Defense Forces

Sunday, October 27, 2013

[Provisional Translation]

As the reviewer of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), I am pleased to attend today's Troop Review and observe members of the SDF with outstanding morale. Now standing here, I am reminded of my vocation as your Commander-in-Chief with solemnity.

"Is anyone here!?"

The voices of members of the SDF with a hope to save as many people as possible might still linger in the ears of many of our fellow citizens who had been affected by disasters. I remind you SDF members are being engaged in search and rescue missions at this very moment on the Izu Oshima islands (severely suffered by typhoons).

I can easily imagine that your presence on the ground brings tremendous relief and hope to people grappling with growing anxiety. in suffered areas from unprecedented downpours.

You rescued the aged and the young who were isolated from safe places. And I also know you saved dikes from collapse with your hands piling sandbags up and up. All the Japanese people have observed you silently devoting yourself to the duties with no regard for dangers.

"In case of emergency, I would strive to complete duties, which might put myself in danger, as entrusted by the nation."

As the Prime Minister acting as your Commander-in-Chief, I take pride in you, who are garnering robust trust of nations, without missing any single words of this oath of service.

"The Self-Defense Forces, who serve the Japanese people"

I want you never to forget the origin as you do your duties.

I am not talking about risks of large-scale disaster only. The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe. North Korea is developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. And provocations against our sovereignty are being there. This is reality.

Facing the reality, we must defend the lives and properties of the Japanese people, as well as our territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace in a resolute manner. We must also contribute to world peace and stability. The Nation bestows such responsibilities on you.

This is exactly why I wish to state that you must completely discard obsolete ways of thinking like, "Our peacetime mission is trainings and exercises." or "Even static defense capability by itself should serve as a deterrent."

Our nation always demonstrates firm resolve not to allow any forcible changes to the status-quo . For this reason, we must conduct various operations such as ISR.

It is also important for Japan to cooperate with nations sharing fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law and to promote bilateral/multilateral exercises, defense cooperation and exchanges and practical cooperation, and international peace cooperation activities with a strategic perspective.

Any single mission given to you contributes to our effort of national defense, safeguarding our people and sovereignty. I want you to embrace this conviction and show your active stance in carrying out your duties.

I will never avert my eyes from harsh realities you face. I will lead you and move forward on reshaping our security policy in line with the reality.

"We cannot secure peace of the world, peace of Japan, either, by sitting idly by. Ceaseless efforts of individual citizen longing for peace would realize it."

Mr. Tokutaro Kimura, the first State Minister for Defense, one of the contributors to the founding of the SDF, stated in his address on the day of inauguration, July 1, 1954.

No others would give us peace, but we ourselves materialize it.

And, we have no room for complacency in our effort for peace.

We should be proud of the path we have followed as a peaceful nation over the 68 years since the end of the Second World War. But the peace in the past does not promise the peace into the future.

We must closely watch ever-changing international security situation as well as developments in such new fields of cyberspace, outer space, and the oceans. At the same time, we must unfailingly pursue the best security policy, as our own challenge.

The National Security Council will be the "control tower" for the challenge. The National Security Strategy will sketch a strategic and systematic course for it. Given the tense reality we now face, we cannot afford to stop and wait any longer.

Before the end of this year, we will complete the Review of the National Defense Program Guidelines. Of course, this will not be a review that merely ratifies legacies from the past. We will steadily develop necessary defense posture with clear critical mind and firm will, so that SDF can play its required roles into the future.

At the same time, we will steadily promote the examination of the legal basis for security, including issues related to collective self-defense and collective security.

All of these are reforms for "the Self-Defense Forces, who serve the Japanese people" unfailingly but flexibly responding to future changes. I am determined to be united with you, to defend the lives and properties of the Japanese people as well as our territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace in a resolute manner.

The words of Mr. Kimura continue in this way: Both the peace of the world and the peace of Japan "will be maintained only through collaborative defense against those who attempt to violate the peace."

Should anyone attempt to violate the peace, the only way is to encircle it forming an international "chain." I consider these words to indicate the path Japan should follow even now, half a century later.

At the recent East Asia Summit, a large number of countries called for the necessity of cooperation in order to ensure the peace and stability of this region as well as security of the seas and freedom of maritime navigation.

This is a major issue tied directly to the peace of Japan as well. The countries at the Summit also voiced their bulk expectations for active contributions by Japan in the "chain" supporting the peace and stability of this region.

Moreover, despite severe environment, members of the SDF are at this very moment splendidly performing their duties off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, in Djibouti, and in South Sudan, substantially representing Japan. They receive high acclaim both within Japan and from overseas because of their high capabilities and good disciplines. They are the pride of Japan.

In a world of deepening mutual interdependence, we can no longer safeguard our peace alone. Ensuring world peace and stability is our own task in this era.

The strength of a chain is dependent on strength of each individual link in the chain. Japan must not be the weak "link" within the "chain" of international cooperation.

Japan must contribute to the peace and stability of the world more actively. I believe that "proactive contribution to peace" should be the banner Japan should raise in the 21st century.

It goes without saying that the Japan-U.S. alliance should be the center of the "chain".

A historic session of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2 Meeting) was held the other day, with the four ministers from foreign and defense ministries of Japan and the U.S. coming together, for the first time in Tokyo. We will build a more robust Japan-U.S. alliance under the banner of our "proactive contribution to peace."

Since assuming the office of Prime Minister, I have visited various locations where the SDF is carrying out duties, namely Matsushima Air Base in Miyagi, Naha Air Base and Miyakojima Sub Base in Okinawa, as well as Iwo To island, Djibouti in Africa, and today here at Camp Asaka. At these places, I have observed with my own eyes and been encouraged by the members of the SDF with their performance.

I know each family pray for health and safety of each of these SDF members. Many of them attends here today. Your support enables SDF members to carry out their duties so superbly, which I believe.

As the Commander-in-Chief, I would like to express my gratitude to you sending your beloved spouses, children, or other family members out into the field. I promise you once more that we will take all possible measures to ensure that they are able to do their duties without hindrance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all other people concerned, including distinguished guests, for their understanding and cooperation to the Self-Defense Forces.

"The Self-Defense Forces, who serve the Japanese people"

The people of Japan stand behind you, placing their trust in and relying upon you.

The Japanese people and I will always stand united with you and all 250,000 SDF members nationwide. I ask you to embrace the pride and confidence while performing your part for SDF mission accomplishment.

I will conclude my address with my sincere hope that you will work with ever-greater diligence for the peace and stability of Japan and the world, always giving consideration to your duties of importance.

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