Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, presented Gen. Kōji Yamazaki, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, with the Legion of Merit, Degree of Commander, in Toyko on March 19, 2023.
Established by an Act of Congress of July 20, 1942, the Legion of Merit is a highly selective honor awarded to friendly foreign nations who have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services.
“For more than 60 years the United States and Japan have been partners, and have built an Alliance that all wish they had,” Aquilino said. "And it is stronger because of the actions of General Yamazaki... On behalf of the United States, we’d like to recognize your tremendous service to the Japan-US Alliance, for your partnership, friendship, and for maintaining peace throughout this region during your tenure.”
Yamazaki’s professionalism, initiative, demonstrated leadership, and dedication to duty resulted in significant advancements in the United States-Japan mutual security partnership, and his judgment, guidance and ability to build consensus were instrumental in expanding Self-Defense Forces contributions both regionally and globally.
Under Yamazaki’s leadership, updates in force posture and continuous bilateral information exchange deepened an already close relationship and strengthened alliance between the U.S. and Japan.
In his remarks, Yamazaki said he believes the foundation of the Alliance is the close cooperation and trust between militaries, and he highlighted his relationships with his counterparts in the U.S. military, thanking Aquilino, Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, Commander, United States Forces, Japan, and Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for their counsel and friendship.
Japan and the United States share a partnership that is stronger and deeper than at any time in its history. With deep people-to-people ties, shared values and dedication to democracy and the rule of law, the United States and Japan remain committed to working jointly to ensure peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region.