12:30-14:00 Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Retired Vice Admiral, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force
海上自衛隊 元海将 高嶋博視
As Japan prepares to mark the third anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster, a former top naval officer has decided to share his experience about how his men and women risked their lives during the first five months after the triple disasters.
Hiromi Takashima, retired vice admiral of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), was relatively new on the job as head of the MSDF's Yokosuka District in Kanagawa Prefecture when the natural disasters struck along the Pacific coast in northeastern Japan.
Only 6 minutes after the killer earthquake occurred at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, all movable MSDF ships at the Yokosuka Naval Base were ordered to head for waters off the Sanriku region. Some 16,000 MSDF members participated in the search and rescue operations and extended humanitarian assistance along the way.
Takashima directed Operation Aqua in a bid to bring the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant under control by towing two barges with a total of 2,800 tons of water from Yokosuka to Fukushima. "This job can be done only by us", he writes in a new book titled "From the Sea".
He praised the U.S. Navy for its strategic mobility, as demonstrated through Operation Tomodachi, while acknowledging that there were Japanese and U.S. differences over the response to the Fukushima disaster.
Takashima will elaborate on these and other episodes during his appearance before the club.
A native of Kagawa Prefecture, Takashima graduated from the National Defense Academy in 1975. He served as a defense attaché in Norway and went on to become deputy head of the Joint Staff in 2008. He was promoted to head the maritime service's Yokosuka District in July 2010. He retired in August 2011.