63rd Anniversary of Japan Self Defence Force, 28 June 2017

Article by Major Godfrey Letsholo, Staff Officer 2 Internal Communication, SA Army Corporate Communication
Photographs by Private Keneilwe Nkwane, Communication Clerk, SA Army Corporate Communication

The Japan Embassy in South Africa under the leadership of His Excellency, Ambassador Shingeyuki Hiroki hosted a reception at the embassy premises to honour the 63rd Anniversary of Japan Self Defence Force Day on 28 June 2017. The event was officially opened by playing of the national anthems of both countries.

In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Hiroki reflected on the Korean War back in 1950 which necessitated the strengthening of national safety and security through the establishment of the National Police Reserve, which was later transformed to the Japan Self Defence Force on 1st July 1954.

The Japan Self Defence Force continues with its commitment to international peace-keeping operations through its on-going personnel presence in South Sudan and its support of anti-piracy operations in Djiboti”, says the Ambassador.

He emphasised the importance of peace and stability in the African continent under the government’s Pro-Active Contribution to Peace Policy, and that Japan is in agreement with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 that peace is a central prerequisite for the prosperity and well-being of the African people. In support of these goals, the Japan Self Defence Force has been co-operating with and contributing to the different services of the SA National Defence Force, especially through its contribution to the Peace Mission Training Centre at SA National Defence Force Training Command.

Lieutenant General L. Yam, Chief of the South African Army gave the key note address at the function that was attended by members from various respects of life including retired Generals from the SA National Defence Force were among the dignitaries.

Amongst others, Lieutenant General Yam expressed his appreciation to the Japan Self Defence Force for its contribution to global peace initiatives and also reflected on humanitarian relief after the earthquake struck Haiti in February 2010, the flood relief in Pakistan and the repairing of roads, airports and other damaged infrastructure in the Republic of South Sudan.

Japan has been involved in international peace missions as early as 1992 and South Africa’s emergence as a contributor to international peace contributions linked to its growing self-image as an emerging “middle power”, and as an African power in the international arena.

“South Africa and Japan have co-operated for 103 years, with the year 1910 marking the beginning of official trade diplomatic relations between the two countries. However, full diplomatic relations between a democratic South Africa and Japan were only established after 1994 when the late former President Mandela visited Japan in July 1995”, concluded Lieutenant General Yam.

The reception was characterised by bidding farewell to the Japan’s first Military Attaché to South Africa, Lieutenant Colonel Kenichi Ebina through a symbolic handing and taking ceremony between himself and the incoming Military Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Kazunori Yanagawa.

In his final remarks, Lieutenant Colonel Ebina expressed his gratitude for the support he received together with his family in South Africa as he concludes his mission.

From Left to Right: Lieutenant General L. Yam, Lieutenant Colonel K. Ebina, Mrs Ebina, Lieutenant Colonel K. Yanagawa and Mrs Yanagawa 

Lieutenant General Yam presenting a gift to the outgoing Japan Military Attaché to South Africa, Lieutenant Colonel Ebina. In the background His Excellency the Japan Ambassador to South Africa Ambassador Shingeyuki Hiroki 

Lieutenant General Yam giving a keynote address at the Japan Self Defence Force Day 

Chief of the SA Army interaction with Captains of Industry

Lieutenant Colonel Ebina handing over the sable to Lieutenant Colonel Yanagawa

NEC Africa Sales Representative explain the High Resolution-Multi-Purpose Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera to Lieutenant General L. Yam