Commander of the Security Affairs Office, Office of the Prime Minister
Tell us about your job. What inspired you to pursue this career?
I am currently working at the Security Affairs Office, Cabinet Secretariat in Tokyo. Our office is in charge of drafting national defense policy and managing national level crises. I began my career as a naval officer when I entered the National Defense Academy. When I entered the Academy I didn’t have any clear ideas on national security, but four years later, when I graduated from there as an Ensign of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, it had become quite natural for me to serve as a naval officer for my country, which is surrounded by ocean and heavily depends on sea borne trade.
You’ve piloted boats on both Tokyo Bay and San Francisco Bay. How are they similar, and how are they different?
Well, I would say both bays are quite similar in terms of size, depth, and other geographic characteristics, but probably Tokyo Bay is choppier than San Francisco Bay, especially during winter. Importantly, Tokyo Bay is very famous for its delicious sea food called ‘Edo-Mae’ meaning ‘in front of Tokyo,’ which is perfect for sushi.
How is Japan linked to the rest of the world by its energy needs? What steps has Japan taken to reduce its dependence on energy from outside the country?
Japan depends on foreign countries for its energy, including oil, gas, and coal. I believe that overall dependency is about 90%. Therefore, Japan has been trying to reduce overall energy demand by introducing more efficient cars and various ways to save energy. We also have been making great effort to develop new sources of energy such as nuclear, natural gas, geothermal, and wind.
Japan is a leader in recycling. Why do you think this practice has gained widespread acceptance in Japan?
When I was a boy, my parents always said that we should save energy and recycle materials because Japan is an island that has virtually no oil and other natural resources. Now I am saying the same thing to my children.
What does it mean for Japan to be an island nation?
Japan has been enjoying great advantages as an island nation. First, the sea around Japan has been a natural barrier from foreign aggressors. Second, maritime transportation has been developed and consequently people import knowledge and culture from many countries. This has made Japan a very exotic and interesting country. Third, Japan has been able to import the cheapest materials for its industry from other countries by sea, and this has contributed to the prosperity of society. Perhaps the advantages of being an island nation outweigh the disadvantages. Some people would say an island nation tends to be isolated from the outer world, but I believe such disadvantages are not important.
For you, what does it mean to live near a bay?
Milder climate, nice sea food, and maritime activity.