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Friends of the Ground Self-Defense Force throughout Japan and the world were saddened to learn about the passing of Eiji Kimizuka, a retired four-star general who served as the Chief of Staff of the GSDF from 2011 to 2013 but perhaps was best known for leading the bilateral response to the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. He was 63.

He died Monday of lung cancer after recently being hospitalized. Earlier this month, I received an email from his wife telling me about his hospitalization “since the latter part of November,” but I did not realize it was so serious. I had written to him previously, as part of our long correspondence, this time to ask him some questions about Operation Tomodachi, the massive relief effort led by the U.S. in support of Japan, for a book I am writing. Unusually, it was several days before I got a response, and in this case, from his wife. He had kindly related the answers to her, and she passed them along.

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