Major General Nozomu Yoshitomi (JGSDF) discussed major concerns with Japan’s Southwest (Ryukyu) Islands and the danger of China forcibly asserting itself along this strategic island chain. He outlined his theories regarding the defense of the Senkaku Islands and First Island Chain in the age of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) challenges. General Yoshitomi explained the challenges of geography, both for defenders and invaders. Specifically, coral reefs that dominate the area complicate the employment of large naval and amphibious assets. He then expounded upon the role to be played by the JMSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) and the critical need for small, nimble, military watercraft for the rapid deployment, redeployment, and medical evacuation of amphibious troops.
Tobias Harris, author of the only English-language biography of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo led a seminar for nearly 100 participants. He described the inspiration for his book, his general evaluation of Abe’s legacy, and placed Abe as a leading figure interacting with the contemporary Japanese political landscape. Much of the discussion focused on Abe’s achievements and shortcomings relative to his status of a source of continuity and stability as Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. Participants generally acknowledged his strengths and a stand-out global statesman, but had mixed views of his performance as a domestic leader who was unable implement his socio-economic reform agenda.