• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sunday attended a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Defense Academy.

The prime minister stressed at the ceremony that the contributions of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are essential for maintaining world peace.

Speaking at the academy, in his hometown Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Koizumi said, “Last September’s terrorist attacks have proved that worldwide terrorism is a new threat to the international community.

“The Self-Defense Forces are supposed to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability of the international community as well as to the security of Japan,” Koizumi said.

After the speech, Koizumi reviewed several drills, including parachute drops by the Airborne Brigade of the Ground Self-Defense Force.

The academy was founded in 1952 as an affiliated organization of the National Security Agency, predecessor of the Defense Agency. It was first called the National Safety Academy and became known officially as the National Defense Academy in 1954.

About 20,000 cadets have graduated from the academy over the last 50 years. They are said to have formed the core of the Self-Defense Forces.

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