Two training vessels of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) left Yokosuka Port for a half-the-globe voyage lasting 163 days on Monday, May 21. On board Kashima (TV3508) and Makinami (DD112) are some 600 JMSDF members including nearly 190 newly-commissioned officers who had graduated from the Maritime Officer Candidate School in Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture, in March.
On August 17～20, Kashima and Makinami are slated to make a port call in Helsinki. The Commander of the training squadron RADM Hiroyuki Izumi called on Mr. Juha Niemi, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo on May 14 to give an outline of the voyage and the program in Finland.
This is the 62nd training voyage conducted by JMSDF and the 2nd time for the journey to make a port call in Helsinki following the first one in 2013. The visit to the Finnish capital is timely as this year marks the centennial of the Finnish defense forces including the navy. Finland celebrated the 100th year of independence in 2017, and Japan and Finland will celebrate the centennial of their diplomatic relations in 2019.
During his visit to Japan in March 2016, President Sauli Niinistö held a summit meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and they made a joint statement of a strategic partnership reconfirming intention of the two countries to strengthen security and defense cooperation among other fields. It was the visit of Kashima to Helsinki in July 2013 that invigorated the interaction in the defense area.
RADM Izumi told Minister-Counsellor Niemi that the training squadron will this time visit 10 countries and 12 ports in South East Asia, Middle East, Europe and North and Central Americas. During their stay in Helsinki, JMSDF members will have various events including an open day on board and a goodwill exercise with their Finnish counterparts.