Kishida vows to enhance defense capabilities

Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Takanami leads the MSDF fleet during the International Fleet Review to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the MSDF at Sagami Bay off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, on Sunday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, participating in an international fleet review on Sunday, reiterated his pledge to drastically strengthen the country’s defense capabilities within the next five years.

“The security environment surrounding our country, including in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, is rapidly becoming severe,” Kishida said while addressing Maritime Self-Defense Force members and others aboard the MSDF destroyer Izumo during the fleet review, held by the MSDF in Sagami Bay, south of Kanagawa Prefecture.

More than 10 countries, including the United States, South Korea and France, took part in the international fleet review, sending warships and warplanes.

Jiji Press
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks aboard the MSDF destroyer Izumo during an international fleet review in Sagami Bay, south of Kanagawa Prefecture, on Sunday.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile development is “absolutely unacceptable,” Kishida said, after the reclusive country fired a number of ballistic missiles recently.

“Maritime defense capabilities greatly influence the strategic environment,” Kishida said, underscoring the government’s resolve to strengthen Japan’s missile defense capability.

Referring to Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine, Kishida said, “Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force should never be tolerated anywhere in the world.”

Kishida then left the Izumo destroyer in a Self-Defense Forces helicopter with Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and inspected the U.S. Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

From the SDF, 20 vessels and 27 aircraft joined the fleet review.

The South Korean navy participated in an MSDF-hosted international fleet review for the first time since 2015, sending supply vessels to Sunday’s event.

Defense relations between Japan and South Korea have deteriorated due to incidents including one in 2018 in which a South Korean navy vessel directed its radar at an MSDF aircraft.