Press Conferences

Press Conference by Defense Minister Iwaya (11:04-11:10 January 25, 2019)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:04-11:10 January 25, 2019
Place: Entrance to the Prime Minister's Office

(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:
Yesterday, the Republic of Korea (ROK) released new footage. It is not consist with the Japanese argument. How do you intend to address it?

Minister:
In the course of their routine activities, the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) patrol aircraft adhere to their flight path and record all data, so I do not believe what ROK has pointed out is correct. We are constantly monitoring the air and seas around Japan. The Ministry of Defense (MOD)/the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is on patrol 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, protecting the peace and security of Japan. We will continue to conduct these activities correctly and properly. I hope that ROK will understand this and respond calmly and appropriately.

Question:
In the area of security, including this incident, the relationship Japan and ROK has frozen over. How do you intend to overcome this situation and improve the relationship?

Minister:
As I have said repeatedly, if we consider the security of the northeast Asian region, the bilateral relationship between Japan and ROK, as well as the trilateral relationship between us and the U.S., are extremely important and absolutely vital. While there have been a number of regrettable incidents occurring between Japan and ROK, I hope to overcome these to build a stable, future-oriented relationship between our defense authorities.

Question:
Going back to yesterday's footage, some of it did not show the sea, while another part showed the altitude of "200 feet" on the screen. How do you see these issues?

Minister:
As I stated earlier, we record everything and the altitude value shown yesterday is incorrect.

Question:
In relation to the ROK argument, are you saying that yesterday's footage is inadmissible or insufficient proof?

Minister:
As we have asserted for some time, taking international law and domestic law into account, we have maintained a distance of at least 500 meters and a height of at least 150 meters in the operation of this patrol flight. I hope that you will understand this point.

Question:
Speaking of the value on the screen in yesterday's footage, would you say that whether it is a mistake or manipulation, that it is factually incorrect?

Minister:
I would say that the value is a departure from the facts but beyond that, I cannot say anything else.

Question:
With regard to this incident, do you have any plans to release more evidence from Japan, or to hold further consultations with the ROK?

Minister:
No, none in particular.

Question:
On the subject of the referendum in Okinawa, they now plan to hold the ballot across the whole of the prefecture. What is your view about this?

Minister:
I believe that is what was decided as a result of the discussion among the various parties, factions and prefectural leaders in Okinawa. This is a regional issue and it is the people of Okinawa who make decisions about Okinawa. The MOD, as part of central government, shall refrain from comment.

Question:
Returning to the referendum, this is a prefectural citizens' vote for the whole of Okinawa. How will the MOD deal with the result and reflect it in its policies?

Minister:
We are still only part way through the process. I will let you know the answer once we have a result and we have made a judgment.

Question:
As long as there is no defined standard for what constitutes a "threatening low-altitude flight" as it is termed by ROK, there will criticism of Japan from the ROK. Is there not a concern that the criticism of threatening low-altitude flights near Korean naval vessels in the course of patrol activities will end up affecting or restricting our surveillance activities?

Minister:
I am certainly hoping that there is no such impact. Japan's operating standards are not decided by us alone. As I stated earlier, they are determined by international law or domestic law, CUES arrangements and aviation law. The United States military, NATO and others follow more or less the same standards. I hope that this point is well understood.

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