Admiral Masahiko Sugimoto is on a formal visit to Turkey this weekend, and this morning (Feb 3rd) met with his Turkish counterpart, Esref Ugur Yigit. The pair discussed the typically expressed highlights in Turko-Japanese relations. For the Turks, they respect the aid given to the 69 Ottoman sailors  who survived the shipwreck of the Ertugrul frigate in 1891. This ship was sent to Japan by Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid II on a good will mission, but hit a reef near Oshima (an island to the south of Honshu, formally part of Tokyo-to), sunk with its 630 mariners in a typhoon. Among the dead was Admiral Osman Pasha, the Sultan’s brother. Yigit told Sugimoto that “Our martyrs rest in peace in the friendly waters of Japan.” Yigit also thanked Japan for its aid in the 1999 Izmit earthquake, in which it sent medical and rescue teams, and later extended ODA development loans to help with the reconstruction. Sugimoto pointed out the safe passage given to Japanese citizens fleeing Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War. A Turkish Airlines plane made room for the 215 extra passengers as the fighting escalated in March 1985, while other foreign carriers refused to carry Japanese passengers over their own citizens.

Chief of Staff Adm. Masahiko Sugimoto, MSDF

Chief of Staff Adm. Masahiko Sugimoto, MSDF (Source: Japan Defense Focus)

Sugimoto is the 30th Chief of Staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, having being appointed to the position in July 2010. Following his appointment, he gave an interview to the SDF’s own Japan Defense Focus magazine, in which he briefly outlined his aims within the role:

Five Naval Districts of Japan

Five Naval Districts of Japan (Source: Wikipedia)

Ensuring territory and the surrounding water of Japan is the primary mission for defense of Japan. However, in recent years, there has been increasing number of missions such as disaster relief activities in Japan, and international disaster relief activities overseas such as in Pakistan, as well as anti-piracy operations off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. It is my wishes, in taking up this appointment, to strengthen the forces so as to be able to respond adequately to these situations and meet the expectations from people. It will be challenging to strengthen the units in the efficient manner amidst the tight fiscal circumstances, I am ready to do my best.

Prior to becoming the MSDF’s Chief of Staff, he was Commander in Chief of the Self-Defense Fleet, and before that Commanding Officer of MSDF Kure District, responsible for the defence of the waters of the Seto Inland Sea – the home of the Kure and Etajima bases, two of Japan’s most traditionally important MSDF bases. The location of the district is show in the map (above right).

Sugimoto will stay in Turkey until Sunday (Feb 6th).

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch