ISLAMABAD   -   Ambassador of Japan Kuninori Matsuda said on Thursday that Japan and Pakistan enjoyed long relations of friendship and goodwill over the last seven decades.

The ambassador and his wife, Naoko Matsuda, hosted a reception to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Japan Self-Defence Forces Day. Lt General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Adjutant General, General Headquarters, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Colonel Mamoru Nanjo, Defence Attaché, Embassy of Japan, represented the Japan Self-Defence Forces. The reception was attended by parliamentarians, senior civilian and military officials, members of the diplomatic community and other dignitaries from the public and private sectors.

The JSDF Day celebrates the establishment of the Japan Defence Agency and inauguration of the Japan ground, maritime and air self-defence forces on 1st July, 1954. The Japan Defence Agency was upgraded to the Ministry of Defence in 2007.

In his welcome speech, Kuninori Matsuda touched upon various aspects of the long history of Pakistan-Japan friendship and emphasised the need for further collaboration as, he said, there is lot of potential to develop between the two countries.

He said that the JSDF in collaboration with Pakistani forces carried out missions at the times of natural disasters and counter-piracy operations in the waters off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, called CTF-151. A unit of antisubmarine patrol aircraft, P-3C, and vessels from Maritime Self Defence Force participated in a multinational naval exercise called AMAN which was organised by Pakistan Navy recently to advance mutual understandings. On recent development of Japan-Pakistan defence cooperation, Ambassador Matsuda said that on June 18, Japan and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation and exchanges and hoped that defence cooperation between the two countries would keep expanding further. On the same day, the seventh round of Japan-Pakistan Security Dialogue was held, where two sides exchanged views on security policies as well as regional and global issues, said Ambassador Matsuda.

“Japan and Pakistan enjoyed long relations of friendship and goodwill over the last seven decades, partly because Japan and Pakistan had many good things in common, such as beautiful nature and landscapes, rich historical and cultural heritage, very warm and hospitable peoples. Now both countries see greater potential and many opportunities for further developing our mutually beneficial relations in the future,” he said.

He added: “We also face common challenges, including natural disasters, terrorism and piracy in high seas. These challenges have brought our two governments and people closer to work together, and here come in the Japanese Self Defence Forces and the Pakistani Military.”

For example, he said, in the most difficult times of disaster relief in the wake of earthquakes and flooding, the Japanese Self Defence Forces and Pakistani Military are always called up first to do their duty and help each other. This happened in the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 flooding in Pakistan as well as in the 2011 earthquake in Japan, he said.

“Japan and Pakistan also carry out counter-piracy operations together off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden,” the envoy said. Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force regularly sends its unit of anti-submarine patrol aircraft and vessels to AMAN, the multinational naval exercise organized by the Pakistani Navy.

Sailors of two countries closely cooperate to advance mutual understanding and operational skills, he added.

“I share with you a new development in our military to military relations; on June 18, Japan and Pakistan held a security dialogue and military-to-military talks; we had a very good and substantial discussion and signed a new “Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation and Exchanges”. I strongly hope that this Memorandum will bring our Defence relations to a new and higher level,” Kuninori Matsuda said.