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Heading for the land of the rising sun for the maritime issues and strategies major in the 2e IHEDN national session

At the helm of the 'Maritime Issues and Strategies' major, Prefect Denis Conus, Deputy Director of the IHEDN, has set course for the Land of the Rising Sun. This country was obviously not chosen at random for the 'world' mission of the major, as it occupies a strategic position within the Indo-Pacific zone, is closely linked to France by a strategic partnership of the utmost importance and its maritime character is perfectly in line with the interests of the auditors.
À bord de l’USS Blue Ridge

After spending a night recovering from the crossing and the jet lag, they were welcomed on Tuesday 20 July morning at the French Embassy in Tokyo by H.E. Mr Philippe SettonFrench ambassador. The audience was immediately plunged into the heart of maritime issues, with a general overview given by the ambassador and then explained by his principal collaborators. They heard from Captain Jérôme ChardonThe French defence attaché and kingpin of the mission, on defence and security issues, Nicolas ThirietMinister Counsellor, on the cultural fundamentals of this island country, Fabienne Delage on the issues surrounding nuclear energy, Jean-Baptiste Bordes on artificial intelligence, Rémy Cardinet on the major economic and social Matthieu Séguéla on the historical links between France and Japan.

S.E.M. Philippe Setton s’adressant aux auditeurs
H.E. Mr Philippe Setton addressing the audience

After a quick lunch, during which the audience discovered the Japanese 'Bento' for the first time, the afternoon got off to a flying start with a talk by Mr Yo TakabaDirector of National Security Policy, who presented his country's new strategic guidelines.

Yo Takaba exposant la politique de sécurité nationale japonaise

Part of the delegation then travelled to the Diet, where it had the honour of being received by Mr Makoto OnikiChairman of the National Defence Committee and former Minister of Defence. The extremely frank and rich discussions highlighted the importance of the strategic partnership and of Franco-Japanese cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, given the shared values and vision of the two countries in an area subject to numerous risks and threats.

A la Diète autour de M. Makoto Oniki
At the Diet with Mr Makoto Oniki

The other part of the delegation benefited from a presentation by Mr Tomoki MatsuoDirector of the International Policy Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Discussions focused on Japan's relations with its neighbours and with major countries, first and foremost the United States.

Tomoki Matsuo explaining the key issues in Japanese foreign policy

The next morning, the listeners set sail for Yokosuka, one of Japan's largest military ports and home to the 7e American fleet. Listeners were able to board the USS Blue Ridge and were welcomed by Vice-Admiral Robert L. Thomascommander of the 7e fleet. Together with his senior deputies, he presented his missions and the challenges and ambitions of the US Navy in the Pacific over the next few years. The audience particularly appreciated his frankness in answering their questions.

À bord de l’USS Blue Ridge
On board the USS Blue Ridge

The audience was then able to discover the work of François Léonce Verny who, in 1865, was seconded from the French Navy and placed under the responsibility of the Japanese authorities to build the Yokosuka arsenal. This town of 450,000 inhabitants is still particularly proud of the achievements of Léonce Verny which are admired by the Japanese because, after more than one hundred and fifty years and despite earthquakes, the dry docks are still operational.

Part of the delegation received a very warm welcome at the town hall from Mr Katsuaki KamijiAfterwards, the Mayor of Yokosuka and all those present went to the Japanese base to board the Italian frigate Mosoroni, which had just docked. There they were welcomed by its commander, Commander Giovanni Monno, and H.E. Gianluigi BenedettiItalian ambassador to Japan. The audience was able to admire this particularly modern ship, fresh from the Italian shipyards.

At the end of the day, the audience headed for JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology), the Japanese equivalent of Ifremer, where they were welcomed by its Vice-Chairman Yasumi Kitao accompanied by doctors Shin'ichi KuramotoExecutive Director, and Tsuyoshi Sugiura. Created in 1909, this organisation is heavily involved in the management and restoration of fisheries resources, as well as research into deep-sea resources with the firm intention of exploiting them.

Finally, the day ended with a working dinner at which they were joined by four researchers from the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS): its vice-president, the director of the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) and the director of the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS). Major general Yoshiki Adachi, Shigeki Akimoto, Masayuki Masuda and Ryosuke Tanaka.

Avec les chercheurs du NIDS
With NIDS researchers

Leaving the hotel at 5.30am the next morning, the listeners boarded the Shinkansen for the bus journey to Osaka and on to Kansai International Airport.

Les auditeurs attendant le Shikenzan

This destination, which may seem strange for a major maritime airport, is in fact of great interest. Built entirely on the sea in a seismic zone that has suffered a tsunami, this airport, co-managed by the French company VINCI, has implemented innovative construction techniques that could be of great interest in the port sector, particularly in the face of rising sea levels. The audience was welcomed by Benoît Rulleauhis co-director, and Mathieu Boutitieits Technical Director. The discussions with the auditors were particularly fruitful. In particular, they discovered the airport's original system for capturing carbon by growing algae, but unfortunately the results are still marginal. 

Benoît Rulleau expliquant les innovations technologiques de l’aéroport
Benoît Rulleau explaining the airport's technological innovations

After these discussions, the delegation headed for the Osaka Bay Fisheries Experimental Station, where its director, Professor Takayuki Kusakabe. The presentations on preserving the biomass of the bay, but above all on restoring it, were of particular interest to the audience.

Les auditeurs autour des chercheurs de la station expérimentale de pêche d’Osaka

On Friday 23 June, after waking up as early as ever, the listeners went to the Kobe cemetery for two ceremonies in memory of the eleven sailors from the Dupleix who were victims of the Sakai massacre on 8 March 1868, and of the other soldiers who gave their lives in Japan, a long way from their homeland.

Marseillaise a capella après le dépôt de gerbe
Marseillaise a capella after the wreath-laying ceremony

After this solemn and moving moment, the audience returned to the tranquillity of the ocean floor at the Kaiyukan aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world, with an impressive diversity of species including whale sharks. The aquarium's director presented the institute's research into understanding the oceans and microplastic pollution.

The listeners then took the bus to Kyoto with a bento lunch, arriving in plenty of time to visit the Imperial Palace and the gardens of Nanzen-ji Temple. Far removed from the modern architecture of the capital, the listeners were able to feel the depth of the Japanese soul as they wandered through a natural setting that can only encourage calm and meditation.

On Saturday morning, after four intense days without much sleep, the listeners took the Shikenzan back to Tokyo, where they visited the temples and museums of their choice and did a bit of shopping before boarding the plane for Paris. It was with great emotion that they said their goodbyes on arrival, conscious that they had experienced an exceptional adventure together throughout the session, and determined to meet up again as soon as possible.