Japan made history yesterday, Sunday 31 May, as it took command of a multi-national task force for the first time since the Second World War. The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force will lead Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) in its mission to continue the deterrence and suppression of piracy off the Horn of Africa.
The Japanese-led task force, commanded by Rear Admiral Hiroshi Ito, is part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘Proactive Commitment to Peace’, an initiative to develop Japan’s contribution to international security.
At the change of command ceremony, Rear Admiral Hiroshi Ito explained the significance of the event, stating, “Over the past 63 years, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force has developed into a word class navy. With being a capable navy, comes great responsibility. Through the counter-piracy mission tasked to CTF-151, Japan will take a more proactive role for global peace and stability.”
“We are at a crossroads” he continued, “it is the first time ever for us Japanese to take command of a multinational force in the post war period”.
Japan has, over the years, provided a significant contribution to international counter-piracy efforts. Rear Admiral Hiroshi Ito stated, “we have been deploying two destroyers and two P-3C Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft in the Combined Maritime Forces Area of Responsibility without a single day gap for six years.”
Commodore Siddique, the outgoing CCTF151 commented at the ceremony “we were privileged to command, control and support ships from CMF partner nations. I appreciate the outstanding performance of ships under our command that undertook their assigned tasks remarkably well, with perseverance and professionalism”.
As part of Combined Maritime Forces, an organisation with over 30 member states, Japan will lead CTF 151 for three months, conducting operations to deter and maintain the suppression of piracy in the Horn of Africa. Other nations working in direct support to the Japanese-led headquarters include Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey, UK, and USA.