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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the 2012 Fleet Review of the Japan Self-Defense Forces

Sunday, October 14, 2012

[Provisional Translation]

Following the Air Review of 2011, as Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF), I am delighted to be able to address so many of you, the members of the SDF, at today's Fleet Review.

The dignified and gallant sight of the vessels and aircraft of the fleet, including this vessel, the Kurama. The movements of the fleet in its steady-handed and tight formation. The discipline and high morale of the members of the SDF and their serious gaze. Seeing these things for myself today impresses upon me once again the glow of pride I feel that Japan possesses such an SDF.

This Fleet Review is for the purpose of displaying the results of the training you engage in on a daily basis, and I firmly believe that it presents an invaluable opportunity for you to demonstrate to many people of this country the sense of mission and resolve you carry in your hearts.

The sea is the "foundation" of Japan as a maritime nation. Our greatest frontier is the sea. Your duty to protect the seas of Japan is therefore none other than to protect the basis for the existence of the Japanese people.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Maritime Security Force, which was the forerunner of the Maritime SDF (MSDF). There is no need for me to reiterate to you that the security environment surrounding Japan is facing increasing and unprecedented difficulties. A neighboring country has launched a missile, which it called a "satellite," and is engaging in nuclear development. Various incidents are occurring that relate to Japan's territory and sovereignty. At the same time, the location for the activities of the SDF has expanded beyond Japan and its immediate vicinity, to every region of the world. Although the central mission of the SDF to ensure the peace and independence of our nation and protect our people has remained unchanged since its inception, in the face of new and changing times that mission has gradually evolved and has grown in importance.

It is in the midst of such circumstances that I make three requests of you today.

Firstly, I ask that you further enhance your capabilities.

In a new era, it is likely that you will be given various new duties to perform, including ones that are fraught with difficulty and the times that you face severe situations may increase. I want you to cultivate within yourselves the capacity to acquit such duties with flying colors. I want you to follow the National Defense Program Guidelines to the letter and construct and further enhance a "dynamic defense capability." I want the various divisions of the SDF to examine in thorough detail what would be required in a contingency and devote yourselves to training and exercises.

Deterrence is not achieved merely by the fact of your existence. The fact that you are highly-trained, highly-skilled personnel, engaging in efforts on a daily basis, is what gives a concrete backing to defense capability.

Secondly, I ask for your courage in engaging in valiant actions.

It may be the case that in the future you will face situations unlike any you have experienced before, and feel the pressure of unprecedented situations.

However, it is you who are the last stronghold for protecting the safety of the nation. The word "unforeseen" has no place in the lexicon of national defense. It is exactly in times of difficulty that I want you to face the situation with courage, firmly believing in the skills and capabilities you have developed every day and considering in a calm manner what needs to be done for the sake of the nation. I urge you never to forget that ultimately it is the courage of each and every one of you that will transform any situation.

Thirdly, I ask that you spread the "bonds of trust."

During the dispatch of SDF personnel following the recent Great East Japan Earthquake, the sincerity and wholeheartedness of the 100,000 personnel who engaged in disaster-relief efforts that were "all for the disaster victims," left a deep and lasting impression on the people of this country. There is no mistaking that the few weeks you spent in the disaster regions, eating nothing but canned food yourselves, while continuing to provide steamed rice and pork broth to the disaster victims, has deepened the heartfelt bond between you and the people of those regions.

In addition, the success of Operation Tomodachi, jointly implemented by the United States forces and the SDF, has strengthened the bonds between the two countries, which are linked by the Japan-U.S. alliance. This will undoubtedly be a significant foundation from which to enhance Japan-U.S. dynamic defense cooperation.

Your colleagues who are currently serving in far-off waters off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, engaged in operations to ensure the safety of maritime transport, are also strengthening bonds with the people of Japan who are involved in maritime transport. They are also further developing bonds with other nations and enhancing the trust placed in Japan as a whole.

I would also like you to remain thankful for the bonds of family, your kith and kin who support you from home while you are engaged in the execution of difficult and dangerous duties. That is my hope.

Finally, I would like to ask you once again the "Five Reflections" that are a part of Japan's maritime tradition.

Have you not acted with integrity?
Have you not felt ashamed of your words and actions?
Have you been lacking in vigor?
Have you not exerted all efforts?
Have you not become lazy?

I believe that each and every one of you will take these "Five Reflections" to heart and will fulfill your noble mission to protect our country. I further believe that you will remain true to the hearts of the people of Japan and will continue to act with sincerity and bravery.

I conclude my address with the hope that you will further exert every effort to be an SDF that responds to the high expectations and deep trust placed in you by the nation.

October 14, 2012
Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan

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