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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori conducted his first naval review Sunday in Sagami Bay, Kanagawa Prefecture, in a ceremony involving about 10,000 people, 63 vessels and 61 aircraft from the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense forces.

Mori heaped praise on the troops and called on the Self-Defense Forces to play a major role in helping Japan improve its reputation as a trustworthy country.

“I’m proud the SDF has contributed much to international peace by playing its role” in U.N. peacekeeping missions, Mori said. “I hope the SDF will contribute to stabilizing the security environment and play a major role in making Japan a trustworthy country in the eyes of the world.”

Mori also praised the troops’ handling of this year’s disaster-relief operations for the eruptions of Mount Usu in Hokkaido and Mount Oyama on Miyake Island, and the strong earthquake that struck western Tottori Prefecture.

“The SDF has largely helped in soothing and assuaging people’s (shaken) feelings,” he said.

Mori, who has been under fire for the mishandling of his own verbal and policy blunders, made it into office in April after the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was felled by a stroke.

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