"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Address by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio at the International Fleet Review 2022

[Date] November 6, 2022
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

It is my great honor to host the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) and International Fleet Review in Japan.

History shows that, although human beings have frequently engaged in conflicts at sea, they have also become connected by the oceans through people-to-people exchanges and maritime trade. Naval power has become indispensable for each country to protect their national interests and to increase national presence. It has come to play a role in supporting the development and prosperity of the world by ensuring safety at sea, especially by maintaining sea lane security.

As naval power became a public good and the importance of military professionalism increased, sailors were required to acquire not only technical knowledge but also professional military ethics.

Acknowledging this historical background, naval personnel from across the globe – having inherited the traditions of seamanship – deeply understand the roles and responsibilities of navies, and have thereby built confidence with other countries.

In the WPNS, since its inauguration in 1988, maritime leaders of the Western Pacific region have met biennially to discuss cooperative initiatives.

It consists of 22 member countries and eight observer countries. Despite the different backgrounds of each country, the WPNS serves as a platform for multilateral maritime cooperation, where all member countries aim to build confidence among their navies.

For example, it has played a leading role in promulgating naval professionalism and seamanship in the Western Pacific region by agreeing to the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), which establishes how vessels and aircraft should behave when foreign navies unexpectedly come into contact.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to the vessels and aircraft from many countries joining us for today's International Fleet Review. By taking advantage of this opportunity, I expect that mutual confidence between foreign countries – including yours – and Japan and the Japan Self-Defense Forces will become even more robust, and will further deepen our cooperative relations toward the realization of a "Free and Open Indo- Pacific."

While we are making sincere efforts to enhance such cooperation and trust, the tense situation due to Russia's aggression against Ukraine has continued for more than half a year, and its outrageous act continues to undermine the very foundations of the international order built upon the tireless efforts and sacrifices of our ancestors over a long period of time. This is a serious situation not only for Europe, but also for the entire international community including Asia.

The security environment is rapidly becoming more severe in the areas surrounding Japan, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea. This year, North Korea has launched ballistic missiles with unprecedented frequency, including that of a new type of ICBM. They even launched a missile which flew over Japan. We absolutely cannot allow nuclear and missile development by North Korea.

We cannot tolerate any attempts, such as Russia's aggression against Ukraine, to unilaterally change the status quo by force anywhere in the world.

In order to protect the people and ensure peace and stability of the region, we will seek to build a stable international order through dialogue, not confrontation.

At the same time, however, we must be prepared for the emergence of an entity that disturbs the peace and security of other countries by force or threat without honoring the rules.

Toward this purpose, by the end of this year, Japan will formulate a new National Security Strategy and related documents, and will fundamentally reinforce Japan's defense capabilities within the next five years. In doing so, we will accelerate our realistic considerations of what is necessary to protect the public, without excluding any possibilities.

Among defense capabilities, maritime capabilities have a significant influence on Japan's strategic environment, as my country is surrounded by sea. No time can be lost for the enhancement of our defense capabilities, including the buildup of vessels, reinforcement of capabilities to respond to missile attacks, and improvement of the treatment of Self-Defense Forces personnel.

In addition, we will further reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. For 77 years since the end of World War II, Japan has consistently walked the path of the Nation of Peace, carrying in our hearts, the strong will to become prosperous together with countries of the region.

As we have done throughout this time, Japan will continue to strictly adhere to the tenets of a peaceful nation, and we will continue to transparently and thoroughly explain our security initiatives to not only our public but also the international community.

I would like to ask each of the participants here today to try to explain their respective security policies in a transparent manner too. Finally, I would like to offer some words to the members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), which is hosting this iteration of the International Fleet Review.

From my heart, I appreciate your deep sense of duty to achieving the mission – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As the Commander-in-Chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, I am proud of you.

You are engaged, day and night, in tense ISR activities in the areas around Japan.

And to ensure the safety of civilian ships, you engage in counter-piracy operations and information gathering activities far away from home.

The difficulties that you face at the forefront of such missions, spending long periods away from your families through wind and rain is immeasurable.

However, each and every effort that you make contributes to the peace and stability of Japan, the region, and the world.

Your preparedness allows the people of Japan to live without worries.

In light of the increasingly severe security environment we face, I expect you to further temper and train yourselves with the determination to protect the lives and livelihood of the people, and Japan's territorial land, sea and airspace.

I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing my sincere gratitude to the families of MSDF personnel for your continuous support.


Prime Minister of Japan

Commander-in-Chief of the Self-Defense Forces

November 6, 2022