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T. Ninomiya: Address to International Leadership Conference

Presentation to the UPF International Leadership Conference
Seoul, Korea, February 6-10, 2011

Mr. Takahiro Ninomiya is a member of the US-EU-Japan Parliamentarians Council for Security in Japan. He is a Special Assistant to the chairman of the Diet Members Council for Comprehensive Security and a Major General (Retired) of the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

Slide 1 - Thank you very much Mr. Moderator and honorable friends. I am very honored to be here. Previous participants expressed their appreciation, and I share the same view.

Slide 2 - My career is in the military, as the world calls it, but we call ourselves the Self Defense Force. This is because we regret World War II very much and accepted a Constitution that renounces war, the so-called Peace Constitution, even though we were forced to accept it by the Occupation Forces. This Peace Constitution includes many restrictions on operations; in particular, direct exchanges of gunfire are strictly prohibited except in self defense.

Slide 3 – These are the topics I will discuss with you today.

Slide 4 - I was asked to be a participant only a week ago, and when I saw the agenda, I was very struck by how grave and heavy the topics were. Conflict resolution is a life-long subject for academics, scholars, journalists, and even pundits, and the topic of the Korean Peninsula is also too complicated even now. But I just want to remind you that in 1994, when Kim Il-sung of DPRK died, most people predicted that the DPRK would collapse in the near future. You see the reality that NK still exists and is playing a key role in the instability and conflict in the region.

Slide 5 - I would like to introduce Japan's Defense Policy, which affects this discussion. Whenever I explain this, I always feel regret in saying that we cannot fully engage in conflict resolution during the battle phase. As I pointed out in line 2 in this PowerPoint frame, Japan has determined to contribute to world peace and security, but because our Constitution renounces war we cannot engage in settling disputes with military power. The famous article nine of our Constitution, for better or worse, is our basic law that governs us as a free, law-abiding democratic nation. The situation surrounding Japan has developed a great deal, and this caused us to improve our capability in 2004. The results were seven defense-related bills and ratification of three treaties. This progress has been assessed and greatly appreciated by our allied nations, but they remain within the framework of our Constitution that renounces war, so that when they are implemented the caveat might affect the troops.

Slides 6 & 7 - I will return to the agenda we are supposed to discuss, but we have good examples from recent incidents: ① the ramming by a Chinese fishing boat of a Japanese Coast Guard vessel that took place in September 2010 and ② the shellings of Yeonpyyeon Island that took place repeatedly in November 2010. Whether you call them a clash, incident, conflict, or act of war, the skills to keep them from escalating from a small scale to a larger scale were skillfully applied.

Slides 8 & 9 - Japan’s stance on this occasion was clearly stated as the Prime Minister’s decision by the Cabinet Secretary. This shows our stern determination against aggressors who break international laws for their own purposes.

Slide 10 - To carry out the goal to contribute to conflict resolution, we already possess the capability to conduct operations, even combat missions, that are not permitted by our constitution.

Slide 11 - Those photos introduce the resources that are available when necessary. The Ground Self Defense Force provides International Emergency Assistance Troops. When the International Emergency Assistance Troop was established, the Defense Forces were not included because its activities were expected to be in the form disaster relief; no Defense Forces were invited when it was enacted in 1987 but it was soon amended to include Defense Forces in 1992. The dispatch of troops should be under the 5 conditions of the Peacekeeping Operations, which include: ① the area is not in a combat zone, ② both sides have agreed to a ceasefire, ③ we should be invited, ④ we are neutral, and ⑤ we can retreat if the conditions are broken. These reflect our war-renouncing constitution. The Maritime Self Defense Force provides patrol ships, surveillance planes, and very effective helicopter ships such as transport ships that can serve as a center for operations. The Air Self Defense Forces provide mobility via C-130s military transport aircraft, which are very effective resources.

Slide 12 – These are answers to the two items on our agenda, but there are none of the easy, simple answers that everybody would like to have. To make a complicated issue simple, the most appropriate answer is to talk with great patience to prevent bloodshed, and I see that most situations are being dealt with according to this principle. Military powers should surely refrain from going to extremes and not escalate situations into open conflict. Whether it is just at the level of talking or engaging in actual combat, the best solution is to pursue talks with patience and tolerance, aiming to curb the confrontation.

The Korean peninsula issue is most interesting, and the possible developments are listed, including maintaining the status quo. But recalling 1994, let us remember the saying: “You can never tell whether a prophecy will hit or miss.” Korean history indicates that they never surrender to a dictator or aggressor, and no one can predict whether the people in the NK would revolt in some way and become more a more democratic and free society.

This concludes my presentation. Thank you very much for your tolerance.