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James Auer

【#185】Be Proud of Your Country and Pledge Your Supreme Efforts!

James Auer / 2013.03.18 (Mon)


March 18, 2013

To the graduates of National Defense Academy of Japan:
     Japan’s defense capability will increase greatly as your fresh blood entered into national service on March 17. My message is to proudly and energetically serve your country. As officers you will soon be given positions of responsibility far above those of your fellow citizens who are not members of the Self-Defense Forces. If any of the men and women who serve under you are weak you must train them in order to increase their capability; but a weak officer is a far more serious problem because of the officer’s authority and responsibility. Always try to do your personal best as your highest priority responsibility.

Be prepared to make even ultimate sacrifice
     Japan has not been involved in military combat operations during your lifetimes and hopefully that will be the case for the rest of your lives. Japan has an alliance with the United States and close relations with other like-minded countries of similar values in order to promote the maximum level of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. You will soon become parts of a deterrent capability which can only be successful if it is credible to deter nations or other groups who would wish Japan harm. In case deterrence fails you must be prepared to make any sacrifice necessary even if it means the ultimate one.
     In English “graduation” is also called “commencement” which means “beginning.” The reason we use that term is because graduation does not mark the end of education. But graduation signals the beginning of a new phase of a human being’s life, each phase of which requires additional learning. This is particularly true in the case of graduates who are soon to become uniformed officers.

Impressive service to the country by SDF
     Being a SDF officer is not as prestigious in Japanese society as it was in the prewar Japanese Army and Navy; but, based on my own experience and friendships of Japanese uniformed officers, I can offer you my opinion that the Self-Defense Forces have some very intelligent and talented leaders whose patriotism and service to their country are extremely impressive by the highest international standards. You are about to enter an elite, professional class, critically important to national security.
     The citizens of Japan should appreciate the men and women who serve Japan in uniform more than they do but, unless deterrence fails, they are unlikely to do so as much as they should. But your service should never waver, in peacetime or in war, appreciated or non-appreciated by your countrymen.
     Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to never let Japan become a “second tier” nation. His success in achieving that goal will require great efforts economically and in the defense area of which you are now key elements. Congratulations on the hard work you have put forth to graduate with such a fine education which will be a great tool for future achievements if you use it wisely. I hope your graduation marks the “commencement” of your further education and of your proud and responsible service to Japan’s future.

(This article was contributed on the occasion of the commencement ceremony of National Defense Academy of Japan on March 17, 2013.)

James E. Auer is Professor at Vanderbilt University and Guest Researcher of JINF.