Senior Myanmar Military Officials Visit Japan10 officials visit as part of the Japan – Myanmar Military Officials Exchange Program

Group photograph aboard the destroyer ‘Samidare’ after attending a presentation at Kure Naval Base
As part of the Japan – Myanmar Military Officials Exchange Program, organized by The Nippon Foundation, 10 senior Myanmar military officials visited Japan for 10 days from August 22. This was the third delegation to visit under the program, and the first since the new civilian government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi took office in March.
The delegation with Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada
The program was launched three years ago, with the aim of introducing how a civilian-led military operates. Each year a group of 10 senior military officials visits Japan to promote mutual trust between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Myanmar’s military, and this year in addition to delegation leader Lieutenant General Maung Maung Aye, the group included four major generals, four brigadier generals, and one lieutenant colonel. Their program included a courtesy call on Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada, visits to several Self-Defense Force bases and the National Defense Academy, and attendance at the Fuji Firepower Review live fire exercise.
After arriving at Narita Airport, the delegation went straight to the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo, to call on Ms. Inada, who noted, “Since the program began, we have provided support to increase Myanmar’s land, sea, and air capacity, and for disaster relief capabilities in particular,” and that “in Japan, when major earthquakes struck Kumamoto, the Self-Defense Forces rescued people and delivered emergency supplies.” General Maung Maung Aye replied that “Disaster relief is one of the obligations of the armed forces under Myanmar’s constitution,” and expressed his thanks for Japanese aid following the earthquake that struck Myanmar in August 2015, killing more than 100 people. Ms. Inada expressed her hope that defense-related exchanges and cooperation between Japan and Myanmar would continue, and General Maung Maung Aye noted that he hoped the visiting officials would find the information gained through the program to be useful.
Hideo Watanabe, chairman of the Japan Myanmar Association (center), giving the toast
On the evening of the first day, a reception to welcome the delegation was held at The Nippon Foundation headquarters in Tokyo, with Japanese officials including State Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya and Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, attending. In his remarks, Admiral Kawano expressed his hope that the delegation would be able to deepen their understanding of the Self-Defense Forces through their visit, and that the Japanese side would be able to learn from the delegation as well. In his toast at the reception, Hideo Watanabe, chairman of the Japan Myanmar Association, said “The government and people of Japan, regardless of political party, support Myanmar’s development.”
Meeting with exchange students from Myanmar at the National Defense Academy
Under the exchange program, the National Defense Academy and each branch of the JSDF have accepted exchange students from Myanmar’s military, and in 2015 the Myanmar Defense Services Academy established a Japanese language program with support from The Nippon Foundation, and 40 students are studying Japanese language each year. The delegation had a full schedule, visiting the Ministry of Defense and learning about the Self-Defense Forces’ educational and public relations activities, traveling to Hiroshima Prefecture to tour JGSDF Camp Kaitaichi, JMSDF Kure Naval Base, and JMSDF Etajima Naval Base, observing Fuji Firepower Review 2016 at the East Fuji Maneuver Area and touring JASDF Hamamatsu Air Base in Shizuoka Prefecture, and visiting with exchange students from Myanmar studying at the National Defense Academy. The delegation also made sightseeing trips to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the city of Kamakura, and members had free time to interact with Japanese society.
Viewing Fuji Firepower Review 2016, a live fire exercise that has been held annually for the general public since 1966 to deepen public understanding of the Self-Defense Forces, and attracted 27,000 spectators this year (left) Lieutenant General Maung Maung Aye at Hamamatsu Air Base, sitting in the cockpit of a T-4 airplane used by the Blue Impulse acrobatic flying team (right)

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