Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(03:05-03:15 P.M. November 3, 2015 (Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 03:05-03:15 P.M. November 3, 2015 (Japan time)
Place: Bilateral 5, The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur
(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.

1.Announcements
None.

2.Questions and Answers

Question:
My question regards the Japan-U.S. defense ministerial meeting. What did the two sides agree upon? In particular, attention has been focused on issues like the South China Sea issue. Can you tell us how the meeting went?

Minister:
Notably, at the beginning of the meeting, I referred to and welcomed the establishment of the Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM) and the Bilateral Planning Mechanism (BPM) in accordance with the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation. The establishment of these two mechanisms is an important step in our efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the new Guidelines. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and I concurred that we would continue to steadily undertake efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the new Guidelines. Following this, we also exchanged views on the regional situation. We concurred to oppose attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and the like. Secretary Carter and I reaffirmed ideas on orders of free and open seas, and I expressed my support for the operations of the U.S. Forces in the South China Sea. On this basis, we confirmed that the two countries would continue to hold joint bilateral exercises, as well as continue to deepen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries on capacity building and other areas. In addition, we agreed to enhance trilateral defense cooperation among Japan-U.S.- India and Japan-U.S.- Philippines, in addition to the Japan-U.S.- Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan-U.S.-Australia cooperation. With regard to the issue of Okinawa, we reconfirmed that the relocation to Henoko is the only solution that avoids the continued use of MCAS Futenma. In connection with mitigating the impact on Okinawa, I newly requested that the U.S. Forces give maximum considerations to safety, and requested U.S. cooperation on mitigating the impact. Lastly, regarding host nation support, we agreed that the two countries would continue to hold consultations and work towards reaching an agreement at an early date. Furthermore, we exchanged views on defense equipment and technology cooperation. Based on the establishment of the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, we concurred to further deepen equipment and technology cooperation between the two countries and agreed to proceed with the efforts to build a Japan-U.S. common maintenance base. As such, today, Secretary Carter and I were able to hold a very candid exchange of opinions. In short, we shared the view that we would make the Japan-U.S. Alliance even stronger.

Question:
Moments ago you stated that you said to Secretary Carter that you supported the U.S. Forces’ operations in the South China Sea. What did Secretary Carter say in response to this?

Minister:
Regarding this matter, the Secretary stated that while there are such operations, it was important to hold talks and dialogues with China. He stated that he would also be holding talks with the Minister of National Defense of China on this occasion in Kuala Lumpur. As I stated at the beginning, the issues of this region concern not merely Southeast Asia. The sea area is a common asset for the people who utilize it. As regional peace and stability are indeed essential, we will be addressing this through Japan-U.S. cooperation.

Question:
Based on what you just stated, does that mean Secretary Carter told you that a so-called U.S.-China defense ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place?

Minister:
The Secretary expressed his hope to hold talks with the Chinese side on this occasion as well.

Question:
I have one more question. This was the first Japan-U.S. defense ministerial meeting following the passage of the security-related legislation. What discussions took place regarding this matter?

Minister:
As I stated in my opening statement, in establishing the ACM and BPM, these consultations will be started to ensure that they can function. The purpose is to contribute to the stability of this region. Based on these mechanisms, we hope to build more effective Japan-U.S. cooperative relations.

Question:
I understand Secretary Carter stated that talks with China were also important. What was your response to this?

Minister:
I share the same view. As for the MOD, Japanese and Chinese defense authorities are also holding consultations on the maritime communication mechanism for managing and avoiding crises. I also believe it is necessary to hold these dialogues with China in relation to defense. In addition, Secretary Carter stated that it was very significant that Japan-China-ROK as well as Japan-ROK and Japan-China meetings were held while he was in the ROK.

Question:
Earlier, in your remarks regarding the South China Sea, after you said you supported the U.S. Forces’ operations, you said that Japan-U.S. joint exercises would be held. Does that mean these exercises would be held with the South China Sea in mind?

Minister:
I was referring to general exercises. Japan-U.S. joint exercises are held on a daily basis. For example, joint exercises are held in between counter-piracy operations and other operations. I was saying that these Japan-U.S. joint exercises are important.

Question:
Construction work for the land reclamation in Henoko, Okinawa, has commenced. Did Secretary Carter say anything on this?

Minister:
I explained Japan’s steps towards completing the construction of the replacement facility of MCAS Futenma in Okinawa. With regard to this matter, we reconfirmed the commitment of the two countries. I requested U.S. cooperation on mitigating the impact of the military bases on Okinawa. Secretary Carter stated that the United States would continue to cooperate on mitigating the impact on Okinawa.

Question:
Does that mean the Secretary welcomed the commencement of the construction work?

Minister:
With regard to mitigating the impact, I requested the earlier official release of the plans for the Industrial Corridor and West Futenma areas. The Secretary stated to the effect that such efforts would be made. That was the discussion on mitigating the impact.

Question:
The Secretary did not say anything regarding the commencement of the construction work in Henoko?

Minister:
No he did not. This concerns the work of the Japanese Government.

Question:
I have a question related to the South China Sea. Did the U.S. side make any requests to Japan for concrete cooperation or other efforts?

Minister:
There was no mention of anything specific in particular. The Secretary did say that open, free, and peaceful seas were needed in this region.

Question:
I have a related question. Is it correct to understand that the joint exercises would include the South China Sea?

Minister:
No. I was making a general remark that Japan and the United States would be holding exercises. It was not about exercises in the South China Sea.

Question:
But it would not be excluded either?

Minister:
I was saying Japan and the United States would be holding general exercises. In the South China Sea, in the past, the SDF have held bilateral and multilateral exercises and training with neighboring countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. These exercises are held routinely to enhance our tactical skills. They do not have any specific country or region in mind. Joint exercises with other countries are aimed at enhancing the tactical skills of the SDF. They also have the objective of promoting the deepening of cooperation with the partner country.

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