Gen Nakatani, center, the Japanese Minister of Defense, speaks with Capt. Adolfo Ibarra, second from left, commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73), and staff members of Nakatani's cabinet during a tour of the ship as part of Nakatani's visit to Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jeff Troutman)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Gen Nakatani, the Japanese minister of defense, visited and toured the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73), and spoke with the ship’s commanding officer and personnel about the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile defense systems, Nov. 23.

The ship tour was part of Nakatani’s visit to Pearl Harbor to engage with naval officials and learn more about the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (ABMD).

“I want to thank you for having me and my staff aboard your ship, and taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us about AMBD,” said Nakatani through a translator. “I’m here to visit with you to learn more about your missile defense systems and how they help keep our countries safe from enemy threats.”

Capt. Adolfo Ibarra, Port Royal’s commanding officer, welcomed Nakatani and his staff aboard the ship and saw their visit as an opportunity to strengthen coalition ties.

“It is our pleasure to have yet another member of the coalition visit our ship,” Ibarra said. “Previously we were visited by the Japanese training squadron and also the Japanese amphibious squadron, who engaged in several training events with our crew before they headed to San Diego.”

Ibarra was joined by Cmdr. John Lipps, the commanding officer of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands on the island of Kaua'i, who spoke with Nakatani about the ABMD located ashore.

Lipps was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Nakatani to help him better understand the ABMD ashore systems.

“The Minister of Defense wasn’t going to be able to make it out to Kaua'i during his visit to see the ABMD, so I’m thankful for the opportunity afforeded by Capt. Ibarra and his crew to come here to speak to him about our ballistic missile defense systems,” Lipps said.

Nakatani’s visit to Pearl Harbor also included a tour of Pearl Harbor’s Sea-based X-band Radar station, a wreath-laying ceremony at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and a dinner reception with Adm. Scott Swift, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.