Press Conferences

Press Conference by Defense Minister Iwaya (11:05-11:58 January 22, 2019)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:05-11:58 January 22, 2019
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)

(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
I have two items. The first is about the directing of the radar incident involving the Republic of Korea (ROK). There have been repeated meetings about the incident at the working level between Japan and ROK to date, but unfortunately we were not able to bridge the gap between us for reasons including the lack of interest of the ROK in establishing the objective facts based on reciprocity. The Ministry of Defense (MOD), amid various reports and opinions from the Koreans, and in the belief that a thorough explanation of the incident is required for the citizens of Japan as well as the international community, and from the perspective of preventing a recurrence, recently released its final statement about the facts of the incident together with the audio recorded at the time when the radar was directed. By way of this final statement, the Ministry again yesterday protested the incident and strongly requested that the ROK admit the facts of the case and ensure that such an incident does not take place again in future. Defense cooperation between Japan and the ROK, and between the U.S. and our countries, is extremely important to the maintenance of a stable security environment in East Asia, starting with the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles. I hope that our recent release will lead to prevention of such incidents in future, and I intend to make sincere efforts to continue the bilateral defense cooperation with the ROK and our trilateral cooperation with the ROK and the US. The second item is the visit of Australian Minister for Defence Pyne. On January 23, I will meet with my Australian counterpart at the MOD. At the meeting I hope to discuss a broad range of issues in the interest of further developing the relationship of our countries, based on the special strategic partnership between Japan and Australia. In particular, in addition to further progressing Japan-Australia defense cooperation as agreed at the Japan-Australia 2+2 at last October's defense ministers' meeting, I hope to pursue more practical and effective upgraded defense cooperation, based on the directive from our Prime Ministers at the Japan-Australia Summit Meeting held last November.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
How would you sum up the radar incident, including your objective in making the radar audio public yesterday and the search for truth going forward?

Minister:
The audio we have released was converted from electromagnetic radar waves directed at a MSDF’s P-1 patrol aircraft by a South Korean destroyer on December 20, and it bears the unique signature of fire-control radar. The MOD has so far released objective proof of the radar irradiation such as footage, audio and the flight route, while taking steps to maintain the security of information. In addition to this evidence, there is also objective proof that the SDF aircraft was the subject of a radar irradiation, which cannot be disclosed as it would enable others to infer capabilities of the SDF. This is the reason for our release of the audio yesterday in partially modified form. Added to what we have already made public, it is clear that a radar direction took place.

Question:
It appears that with regard to the softness of the ground of the reclamation site, a new plan will be started in the spring and an application for the plan change is to be submitted to Okinawa Prefecture. Could you tell us about the state of play?

Minister:
I am aware of such reports, but the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) is currently conducting a boring survey of the ground in the reclaimed site and considering the issues as necessary. On the specifics, Okinawa Prefecture has given this ground stability issue as a reason for withdrawing its consent to reclamation. As such, a request for review has been submitted to the ODB and as such I will refrain from comment.

Question:
Has the unstable ground issue already been confirmed?

Minister:
We are undertaking an additional boring survey, we are gathering additional data about the ground there and as I just said, we are currently requesting a review. Okinawa Prefecture has given this as a reason. I will refrain from further comment.

Question:
At the time of the meeting between Vice Governor Kiichiro Jahana and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, the MOD would have known that the probability of the substrata being soft was extremely high, and would have known that it would need the approval of the Prefecture in this case. Finally, you are seeking approval and the Prefecture is properly refusing, but a third of the reclamation has already been done. If you are unable to admit the ground is unstable, it will be unfortunate both for Okinawa Prefecture and for the government. Time and again you have been asked to wait for a report on the unstable ground before starting reclamation, but it has gone ahead anyway amid heavy criticism. You answer that you cannot comment because you are requesting a review but at this point, from yesterday’s news, it is surely evident that there is a high likelihood that the ground is to some extent unstable.

Minister:
I do not have the details of the meeting between Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita and Vice Governor Kiichiro Jahana. Even in the early stages of the bore survey, some instability in the substrate was visible, so we are doing additional surveying. I believe the substrate may be unstable and if it is, then measures and steps will be taken to address the issue. At this stage, when it comes to the extent of the issue, I will refrain from commenting for the reason I have already given. However, we intend to properly address any issues arising from the survey.

Question:
You say it is possible. If so, why did you start reclamation on December 14 in spite of the opposition of the people of Okinawa, including an election? On this point I have heard the view expressed by Okinawans watching the start of the works that their democratic voice has been completely ignored. Why have you only admitted this now work has begun? This is only going to delay progress, so why did you force work to start in the first place?

Minister:
As I said earlier, once the results of the survey come out, we will decide on the best methods to advance the work, then follow all appropriate procedures as required. Of course we must accept the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box and it is my desire to fulfill the promise made 22 years to return the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma base to Japan, which is also the will of the people of Okinawa. We want to return FCAS Futenma to Japan as soon as possible, which is why I hope to steadily advance the transfer of the base to Henoko.

Question:
It is very difficult for Japan to continue talks. It has released a final statement, and how do you see the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK’s expression of deep regret about these? Also, based on their comments, how do you intend to move forward?

Minister:
We have given our conclusions about the matter. I do not have the exact details of the Korean response, but I hear that they are holding a press conference at the same time as we are. I will have a look later but for now, we are calling off talks on this matter. We may take up matters of necessary defense cooperation in a separate forum, but we have come to the conclusion that continuing with talks will unfortunately not take us any closer to the bottom of this incident. I ask that they accept our statement and address this in a sincere manner.

Question:
In the varied history of Japan and the ROK, the issue of the SDF flag occurred six months and the radar direction issue has gone on for a month with accusations and counter-accusations. I believe the defense authorities of both Japan and the ROK recognize that we have a certain relationship. You said that there is a gap in the relationship between the defense authorities of Japan and the ROK. How wide do you think the gap is? You urge cooperation based on the North Korean issue, so how do you think we are going to bridge this gap?

Minister:
Cooperation and collaboration between the defense authorities of Japan and ROK is vital not just for the defense of Japan but for the security of the entire region. That is why exchanges have consistently been conducted between our defense ministries. As a result, there is an underlying relationship of trust. Unfortunately, as you point out, there has been a series of regrettable incidents. I intend to work sincerely to overcome these issues and once more set our defense cooperation on a future-looking path.

Question:
Talks on this incident are being called off but will continue with the ROK on defense cooperation. Can cooperation between Japan and ROK, with the US, and cooperation on the ground proceed smoothly if this matter is left with such a gap between the two sides?

Minister:
Recently, when I visited the US for talks, we agreed on the importance of the Japan-US-ROK trilateral relationship, especially in the area of security. We are both allies with the US and Japan hosts US forces, as does the ROK and therefore, we must take some responsibility for the security of the region. I am sure the ROK feels this sense of responsibility too and if we are to achieve the defense cooperation we need in future, we must keep talking with each other.

Question:
At the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK press conference earlier, there was a question mentioning the final statement issued by Japan yesterday. The patrol aircraft also flew in April and August, which was shown by the MOD but in this respect, the December flight was different and the ROK pushed back, claiming it was uncertain as to the location from which the photograph was taken. Another point was about the call from the patrol aircraft. Japan’s final statement stated that the ROK had admitted that the call had been misheard, but the ROK replied that this was not true. The disagreement on the facts remains, so does Japan intend to rebut and explain in response?

Minister:
In this regard, I heard it now for the first time, so I would like to look at the details later with care, but the view of the MOD concerning this case is as has just been announced, and we have no intention of giving a new opinion from our side unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Question:
It has been reported concerning Mage Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, which is a candidate site for relocating the Field-Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) of the U.S. Forces in Japan that a provisional contract has been concluded for the purchase price of 16 billion yen and that handover by the end of the current fiscal year is the target. Please give us your views at this point in time.

Minister:
I am aware of the news report. We have been conducting a series of negotiations with Taston Airport, which owns large portion of the land of Mage Island, reached an agreement, and exchanged a document that confirms the content thereof. Final work towards the contract will continue going forward, and Taston Airport is not the sole landowner and there are other landowners on some parts, with whom we must negotiate as well, and the value of the adjustments and other matters are also currently under negotiation, so I would like to refrain from answering at this point in time. However, I intend to give a solid explanation when the contract is concluded.

Question:
It is my understanding that Vice-Minister of Defense Harada visited the location yesterday. Please tell us when a site survey will be conducted and whether there will be an opportunity for you to go there and directly explain matters you.

Minister:
Yesterday, Vice-Minister of Defense Harada met Mr. Shunsuke Yaita, Mayor of Nishinoomote City, and Mr. Satoshi Mitazono, Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, and others and gave an explanation regarding the site survey going forward on Mage Island, which is being considered as the candidate site for JSDF facilities and FCLP facilities. Since it is the view of the MOD that the FLCP facilities, which have been an issue for many years, are extremely important to security, the understanding of the local people is extremely important to its realization, and we intend to respond with care going forward. As for the onsite survey, it is currently being coordinated, but we intend to conduct surveys of the land and environmental surveys, etc. of Mage Island by the end of this fiscal year in order to do more specific planning for use by the JSDF and consultations with the U.S. side. Although I have no plans at this time to visit the location, I intend to consider doing so as needed.

Question:
You referred to the JSDF and FCLP facilities. Are there facts to show that the plans or consideration as the candidate for the relocation of training by the U.S. Forces in Okinawa are moving forward?

Minister:
FLCP facilities are, as the name says, we had been pushing this because facilities for FCLP, for the landing training of carrier-based aircraft, are necessary, and we are not considering at this point in time the relocation of other training.

Question:
Your explanation is that even though MOD terminated consultations with the ROK side, it has not given up on clarifying the facts and preventing recurrence. On the other hand, the final views of the MOD express the hope that the case will be helpful in that regard, so I assume that you hope that this will encourage the ROK side to do something about preventing recurrence. However, while you are not yet aware of the details, the state of affairs is that there does not appear to be any such movement on the ROK side, which is, to the contrary, reacting negatively. I understand going forward that there will be a Japan-ROK Defense Ministerial Meeting in the future. In the case where resolution is not reached by that point, do you intend to raise this issue there?

Minister:
If the defense authorities are truly mindful of the security of this region, I hope that they have essentially the same views regarding security cooperation as we do, so I strongly feel that we should conduct forward-looking and productive, constructive consultations between the defense authorities or, if necessary, explain as defense minister to defense minister.

Question:
Do you mean that you have no intention to have such an exchange between defense ministers regarding the directing of the radar?

Minister:
It is my understanding that the views of the two sides remain different, but I believe that that the important thing here is that such a thing never occurs again. I believe that they have acquired such a view on this through the various exchanges on this occasion.

Question:
You have repeatedly mentioned the importance of exchanges between the defense authorities, between the ministers of foreign affairs. On the other hand, an incident that had the potential of endangering the lives of the SDF personnel occurred. I think that it is an issue that cannot be passed over, and the opinion is being raised one after another from people within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that reducing or suspending defense cooperation should be considered. Please give us your thoughts on this point.

Minister:
As I have repeatedly said, our final views on this occasion do not mean that we will overlook this case. In our final views, we have conveyed to the ROK side that we want them to admit the facts and firmly prevent recurrence, that we strongly seek this. We strongly desire that the the ROK goes forward so that such a thing never occurs again. Now, regarding defense cooperation between Japan and ROK, we are not deciding at this point in time on any specific case that we will or will not do to, but it is our view that we must decide appropriately depending on the matter. It is, after all, necessary to maintain the conduits of defense cooperation between Japan and ROK, and we intend to go forward based on the understanding that this is necessary for the security of Japan and more broadly the region.

Question:
The consultations with the ROK side will be terminated, but do you have plans to shift the stage to the international community? For example, when will you announce the agenda for the radar issue in ten languages?

Minister:
We have no intention of doing such a thing. We are conducting disclosure in Japanese, Korean, and English, and we believe that this should be sufficient. In addition, since this is a matter that occurred between our two countries, we do not intend to raise this issue with a third party, or with international organizations and the like.

Question:
Regarding the radar issue, you just stated that you would not be presenting new views unless there are special circumstances. What are your views for a case where the ROK side, in the future, requests the continuation, resumption, of the consultations?

Minister:
It is my view that we should not hold a meeting that ends up becoming an exchange of criticism. I definitely would like to conduct consultations if they are productive, constructive, and forward-looking.

Question:
By productive, do you mean unless there are prospects that positive movement can be seen on the ROK side, such as some change in their views to date?

Minister:
I would like to hear if there is such talk, but it is my intent to terminate the matter as consultations regarding this case.

Question:
Regarding the soil and sand being poured, on a matter related to the change in specifications to 40% or less without notice to the prefecture, your explanation at the press conference at Narashino the other day was that the understanding was that there was no problem in the area encircled by seawalls and that it was being conducted according to environmental conservation standards. However, the reason why the fine fraction content is important is because it is actually explicitly written in the materials procurement report that the Defense Bureau issued in 2010 that 2 to 13% more or less is adequate in determining whether or not they are appropriate for landfill, and it was on the basis of this notice that something like 10% more or less was explicitly recorded in the Environmental Conservation Book and submitted when Mr. Nakaima was governor. The former Governor Nakaima gave his approval on this basis. As for the figure this time around of 40% or less, what in the world did the MOD and the Defense Bureau use as the grounds to come forth with this figure? Could you give an answer on this point?

Minister:
First, regarding the fine fraction content of the rock shear, you mentioned the fact that there is an entry in the Environmental Conservation Book, which is an attachment of the landfill approval petition, of “10% more or less.” However, this entry presumes a situation where the landfill is conducted before closing the area with seawalls. What we are going forward with now is to create a closed sea area and implement it there so that the turbidity does not spread to the open sea. So the assumptions are different in the first place, so we believe that the point that you made to the effect that there is a discrepancy between the Environmental Conservation Book does not apply. The rock shear is being poured in for ongoing work in a closed space, so it is my understanding that the accusation that there is a discrepancy between the entry in the Environmental Conservation Book in the landfill approval petition does not apply. In addition, the fine fraction content of the rock shear is given as 40% or less in the specifications of special note in these landfill works from perspectives such as securing the necessary strength of the foundations, taking into consideration other projects such as the project for Naha Airport.

Question:
I believe that 2 to 13% is similarly written in the conservation document for Naha Airport. Are you saying it is adequate at the time of the placing of the order because there are cases where 40% or less is entered in the specifications?

Minister:
As I said already, the work that is going forward now is that landfill is being conducted in a sealed-off area, so what the fraction content means is that construction is going on that does not harm the environment even if the fraction content is not 10%.

Question:
You may say that it is sealed off, but it is not as if it were covered over with concrete, so it is certain that there will be leaks. In addition, if one looks at the confirmation document, it will show the topographical form where you are trying to keep it at 10% more or less including 15%--although the ODB made a counterargument the other day?although you had placed the order at 40% or less. But you are saying that you are currently doing it with 10% under onsite witnessing precisely because it is not the understanding of the Defense Bureau that it is safe because the space is sealed off, are you not? Is my understanding correct that the grounds for 40% or less according to what you just said are the specifications created for Naha Airport with 40% or less, and when you made these specifications, the prefecture was not consulted?

Minister:
With regard to the landfill material currently being used, it is being used after the ODB conducted the necessary confirmation, so the impact on the environment that the prefectural side is concerned about will not occur and it is my understanding that it is not occurring now. As I already mentioned, concerning the grounds for the figure 40%, it is a number that used for reference projects being conducted in other places, and that Naha Airport is one such example.

Question:
I, too, saw onsite how the red clay spreads a little when it rains. So, from the prefecture’s perspective, it appeared to be clear that there was red clay, that it had an argillaceous quality, so it has made repeated requests from the beginning to conduct an examination of the properties as the petition says, not the so-called fraction content, of the soil and sand, in other words whether or not there is red clay, whether they are argillaceous, after the submission of the tenders. However, the results of the properties examination are over two years-old, from 2016 and 2017. Why, when the Defense Bureau had explicitly written in the petition that it would conduct this properties examination at the time of purchase and submitted it, have you been unable to produce the results of properties examination of the soil and sand after March 2 last year, when the work after the tendering began? In addition, the prefecture has been saying that it wants the Defense Bureau to do its own, solid, properties examination and not just leave it to the businesses, but for now, this is not being produced. Why is this?

Minister:
With regard to the soil and sand that is being used for landfill currently, it has been reconfirmed by the results of samples taken from three places that they all satisfy the environmental standards concerning harmful substances. In addition, in the construction work that is currently being conducted, enclosed waters have ben created through peripheral seawalls and the soil and sand are put in there, and satisfactory measures are being taken so that the turbidity of the water does not spread. It is my understanding that such matters are being given by the ODB as answers to Okinawa Prefecture.

Question:
I have heard that answer from the prefecture, but an inspection for harmful substances and an inspection of whether there is red clay, whether it is argillaceous, are different. The prefecture is saying that it wants the defense authorities to conduct the same inspection that produced results like those in 2016 and 2017, and I think that the ODB understands, but the document that the Defense Bureau just recently submitted does not have the results of a properties examination like in 2016 and 2017. In other words, when I inquired, they say that they haven’t done it. When I asked why, the answer was, “It was from a year and a half ago, but I trust the vendor.” It’s fine to trust the vendor, but at the site, where they are looking at the real situation, it is being shown that there must be red clay included, that the documentation submitted in the past shows that there had been no red clay, no argillaceous substances had been detected. That is why the prefecture is requesting that a properties examination of the current soil and sand be conducted. The previous answer from ODB did not respond to this. If it is not being done now, please answer whether or not ODB intends to do it on its own.

Minister:
Regarding the landfill material that is currently being used, as I have repeatedly stated, it is being used after the ODB conducts the necessary confirmation, and the results of the latest experiments conducted on January 18 and the like have also been submitted to Okinawa Prefecture. In any case, we intend to go forward with the construction aimed at the relocation to Henoko based on the related laws and regulations and matters of note, giving maximum consideration for the natural environment and the environment of the daily lives of the residents.

Question:
As I have said again and again, it has been pointed out that the material submitted on January 18 is different from that which the prefecture has wants to be submitted in the first place. Therefore, I would like you to confirm whether or not a detailed properties examination again like the one in FY 2016 and 2017 can be done. You will obviously understand the reason for this if you actually go to the site, but red clay can be seen in the photo as well. No red clay was found in the soil and sand that was submitted as the soil and sand in question. It is wrong that material that was clearly different was submitted and approval was given on it as the basis, so they want you to inspect the soil and sand that are there now. If you cannot do that, they want you to let them conduct onsite surveys and take samples.

Minister:
We intend to respond appropriately to the matter that Okinawa Prefecture has pointed out after fully confirming it.

Question:
Since Okinawa has a red clay prevention ordinance, it means that there is a major impact on the environment, so I would like you to give your answer based on a thorough understanding of this point. If you cannot do that, I believe that you should respond positively regarding an onsite survey and the provision of samples if there are no problems with the soil and sand. How about his point?

Minister:
It is our intention to respond thoroughly based on the prefectural ordinance for prevention of red clay outflow. In addition, with regard to the landfill materials being used on this occasion, I repeat what I said earlier, that after engaging in the necessary confirmation, the results of the latest tests were also submitted to Okinawa Prefecture on January 18. It is therefore my understanding that at the current point there is no need for the onsite survey, etc., that the prefecture is requesting.

Question:
I understand very well that the ROK and the Blue House share the same views on the stability of regional security, but how would you sum up the Government of the ROK’s response in the past month?

Minister:
My view is the same as that expressed in the Final Statement, so I would like to avoid repeating what is detailed in that statement. However, it was in Singapore where I first met with ROK Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong Doo. At that time, we were dealing with the issue of the international fleet review, but we agreed to advance relations in a future-oriented manner. It is therefore extremely regrettable that these recent events could not have been dealt with in a manner that followed the broader picture of cooperation and I would very much like to see efforts to overcome the current state of affairs.

Question:
With regard to the boring survey at Henoko, you have just stated that you would like to refrain from commenting as a request for review has been submitted. Are we to understand from your comment that the results of the survey have already been compiled, but as the parties are currently in dispute you cannot provide a response?

Minister:
The results of the survey are currently in the process of being compiled.

Question:
Are we to understand that while procedures relating to the request for review are ongoing the results of the completed survey will not be released?

Minister:
While the request for review is underway it is basically the case that the results will not be released, but when the time comes that they can be released I will provide a full explanation.

Question:
Can we understand that if the results come out while the request for review is still underway they will be released?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from making any response while the request for review is still underway.

Question:
Returning to the fire-control radar issue, you noted that on your visit to the United States you shared the view with the U.S. side that Japan-U.S.-ROK defense cooperation is necessary from the perspective of regional security. Were consultations with the United States were one element of considerations that led to the decision to break off consultations with the ROK on this occasion? Could you tell us whether the confirmation with the U.S. of the importance of engaging in Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation was a factor in the decision to break off bilateral talks on this occasion with the ROK and also whether the U.S. had any influence in the decision itself?

Minister:
That was not the case. The decision was made by the MOD itself.

Question:
Do you think it will be possible to urge the ROK side to admit the facts in this case, even now when the consultations have been called off?

Minister:
Lengthy consultations have taken place on two occasions. The first was a teleconference. The second round of consultations was in Singapore, where a full day of face-to-face consultations took place using our respective embassies over the course of morning and afternoon sessions. However, unfortunately we were unable to come to a shared recognition of the facts of this case. Given the major differences in views between the two parties it was judged that it would be extremely difficult to achieve any outcomes, even if the consultations were to continue. In any event, it is important to ensure that such matters do not occur between Japan and the ROK and I hope that both sides will keep that point in mind as we take our relationship forward.

Question:
In a press conference held by the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK today a call was made for Japan to apologize. What is your view on this call for an apology, which comes in response to Japan’s request for a final statement on the matter?

Minister:
With the final statement that was issued Japan now wishes to draw a line under the consultations and I would therefore like to refrain from making any comment.

Question:
Even though you point to the fact that the consultations have been called off, now that the ROK has rejected the final statement issued by the MOD and is demanding an apology, do you not think that it would be better to make some sort of response or explanation rather than refraining from comment?

Minister:
I would reiterate what I have already stated, namely that I would like to avoid repeating the explanation that is in the final statement.

Question:
It has emerged that the ODB has issued an order for landfill soil to a contractor that submitted an estimate for landfill soil of over 10,000 yen per cubic meter, which is more than double the unit price for good quality stone materials procured within the prefecture. Internal rules at the MOD require that in principle estimates should provide from three or more companies that provide details of material unit prices for civil engineering works. Was only one estimate received on this occasion? If so, it contravenes internal rules at the ministry, so could you explain why it has happened?

Minister:
Within the unit price of rubble for landfill, the cost of materials used as landfill materials is set based on the results of material price surveys. I have received a report from Okinawa Defense Bureau that the cost of maritime transportation of the landfill materials has been added to the estimate, based on the cost estimate standards of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. I believe that it is the maritime transportation costs that have increased the price, but my understanding is that the estimate was calculated appropriately. In addition, as the unit price for stone rubble was not included in standard material price surveys, I understand that a survey was undertaken by a reputable survey organization to ascertain the material cost, which then formed the basis for the unit price. The estimate was then handled appropriately, based on the ministry’s procedural guidelines for calculating cost estimate standards for civil engineering works. Unfortunately, only one company submitted an estimate for the work.

Question:
I understand that measures will be taken in response to the soft ground at Henoko, but on what scale is it anticipated that such works will take place? Also, how long will such works take and what is the anticipated cost? Please share with us any approximate figures you may have at the current time.

Minister:
As I have already noted, as there is a request for review currently being dealt with on this matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details. If your question is based on that matter then I am unable to answer, but eventually I will provide a detailed response.

Question:
Is it considered necessary to implement not only ground improvement, but also change the design to a caisson-type breakwater?

Minister:
I will respond to these matters also in due course of time.

Question:
Under the initial plan construction was supposed to start from Oura Bay, but it has instead started with seawall construction at Henoko. Are we to understand that the work began at Henoko because the schedule was changed due to the possibility of soft ground being encountered? Could you tell us whether there were any consultations with the prefecture on this matter, and whether or not approval was gained?

Minister:
My understanding is that construction is progressing as originally planned.

Question:
So it isn’t your understanding that construction was planned to start from Oura Bay?

Minister:
That is correct. In the environmental conservation documents I believe it was noted that construction could start from either end, and therefore a decision was made to start from Henoko.

Question:
The budget allocation for the landfill section on the Oura Bay side has not been used and from next fiscal year onwards it appears in the budget request, so are we to assume that budget execution has been delayed as it was also anticipated that measures would be necessary to deal with soft ground?

Minister:
It is not the case that the construction at Oura has been put back due to soft ground, but rather than a plan was made and implemented to start work from the Henoko side.

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