Governor of Shizuoka Reluctantly Supports JSDF Trainings at Mt. Fuji

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

By Mayako Shibata

Tokyo - (PanOrient News) "From a preservation point of view, the annual military exercises near Mount Fuji should stop, but there is no way for me to do that now," said the governor of Shizuoka prefecture Heita Kawakatsu, regarding to concerns raised over geological damage to the environment around Mt. Fuji done by the annual Fuji Live Firing Exercises conducted in the East Fuji Maneuvers.

In response to a question raised by PanOrient News, Governor Kawakatsu explained that he understands the necessity of conducting military training operations as the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) is not only in charge of national defense but also provides humanitarian assistance. "The JSDF soldiers who have been trained rescue people when needed. And we know that they need trainings to do that effectively. When I explained to this to the ICOMOS (The International Council on Monuments and Sites) members who came to investigate Mt. Fuji for the world heritage nomination, they understood the necessity," said Mr. Kawakatsu.

Mt. Fuji was inscribed as a World Heritage site (cultural heritage) at the 37th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in June 2013. It is considered to be a fountain of cultural and artistic inspiration for the Japanese nation.

Unfortunately, there is a JSDF base (The East Fuji base) and even a US base located near Mt. Fuji. And the Japan Self-Defense Ground Forces' annual live firing exercise, which uses real cannons and missiles, is conducted right next to one of the world heritage areas.

Although he admitted that the exercise should be stopped in order to maintain the environment surrounding Mt. Fuji, Mr. Kawakatsu stated that Mt. Fuji is impregnable against any damage by canons. "It is not desirable to have trainings there. But let's say, a volcano erupted - damage caused by that would be much greater. Damage committed by any military forces cannot compare to natural disasters," he said.

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