Press Conferences

Joint Press Conference by Japanese Defense Minister Onodera and French Defense Minister Parly (11:14-11:30 A.M. January 27, 2018)

Joint Press Conference by Japanese Defense Minister Onodera and French Defense Minister Parly
Time & Date: 11:14-11:30 A.M. January 27, 2018
Place: In front of Building NO. 15

(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

Minister Onodera:
We held the Japan-France defense ministerial meeting for about an hour. I expressed my wish to further strengthen cooperation between Japan and France in order to promote the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, and Minister Parly shared the view. We also reaffirmed that North Korea's nuclear and missile development is totally unacceptable as it is posing a more serious and imminent threat than ever to this region and the international community and Japan should continue to cooperate with France and the EU to make North Korea change its policy by using all available means to raise the pressure on it to the maximum level. Concerning the broad agreement reached on the Japan-France ACSA, we agreed that as the ACSA will make significant contributions to the improvement of interoperability between the Japanese and French defense authorities, and should continue to cooperate to realize its signing and effectuation at an early time. Concerning exchange between units and joint exercises and training, we agreed to promote cooperation not only between our maritime forces but also between our ground forces. As for defense equipment and technology cooperation, we dispatched aP-1 patrol aircraft to the Paris Air Show last year for the first time. We agreed to promptly proceed with the joint study on the next-generation mine detection technology, which represents the first Japan-France cooperation. In addition, the MOD is scheduled to launch Kirameki-1, X-band defense communication satellite in March this year on a French Arianespace rocket lifting off from French Guyane, so we will promote further cooperation with France in the field of outer space as well.

Minister Parly:
Thank you, Minister. Yesterday, we held the Japan-France 2+2 foreign and defense ministerial meeting, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to continue our discussions today. The 2+2 meeting has been held annually, but the discussions this year were very important in particular because I also met with Prime Minister Abe. I held detailed discussions with Prime Minister Abe, and we shared geopolitical analyses. It was also confirmed that we share views on the context of this region. Just now, Minister Onodera explained the details of the defense ministerial meeting held this morning. If I may add one thing, Japan and France intend to further strengthen and evolve our cooperation in this field. In particular, we would like to regularly cooperate in the maritime field. Minister Onodera explained specific areas of cooperation. In particular, I would like to mention the study on an unmanned underwater vehicle, outer space and cyberspace-related issues. We also discussed the situation in the South China Sea. Concerning this matter, France has maintained a consistent stance, placing particular emphasis on ensuring the freedom of navigation. In order to make this stance clear, we have exercised the freedom of navigation every year by actually having our vessels navigate through the sea. We intend to continue this activity in the future, and have already scheduled navigations for this year. I also received explanations concerning the PAC-3, which Japan has deployed. France possesses the SAMP-T anti-missile system, which was co-developed by France and Italy. I understood that Japan's PAC-3 is an important element of the defense against security threats in the surrounding region. One of the threats in this security environment comes from North Korea. France's position is that the ultimate and sole solution is diplomacy, or negotiation. To achieve that solution, it is essential that the sanctions based on the UN resolutions be fully enforced. For France, Japan is a special partner country. At this fourth 2+2 meeting, we reaffirmed the various cooperation projects that had already been specified and we also discussed possible joint projects for the future as well.

2. Questions and Answers

Could you tell me how much economic assistance Japan will provide for the Sahel region? Also, could you tell me whether Japan sees such significance in the Sahel region that it would like to provide such assistance?

Minister Onodera:
At the 2+2 meeting yesterday, the French side provided explanations concerning the Sahel region. Japan has a base in Djibouti and providing assistance in Africa. In this situation, I understand that the foreign authorities are discussing what can be done in the future. Today, Minister Le Drian and Minister Kono are holding discussions, so we are keeping a careful watch on the situation.

Both of you referred to the importance of a free and open maritime order. China's activity to increase military bases in the South China Sea is an attempt to change the status quo that could affect the order. In this respect, how will Japan and France restrain China, which is escalating such activity?

Minister Parly:
As I mentioned earlier, France has always maintained the stance of respecting international law and ensuring the freedom of navigation in particular. To express that in action, France intends to continue the act of exercising the freedom of navigation. Concerning issues related to sovereignty, France believes that they should be resolved through dialogue.

Minister Onodera:
Today, at the defense ministerial meeting, I explained the details by showing some photographs concerning the situation of China's land reclamation and military build-up situation in the South China Seas. Changing the status quo by force is unacceptable, so Japan and France will cooperate with each other in striving toward free and open Indo-Pacific region.