Press Conference by Defense Minister Ishiba ( 8:51-8:55 A.M. February 26, 2008)
Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping)
Time & Date:8:51-8:55 A.M. February 26, 2008
Place: Lobby in front of the Cabinet Meeting Room in the House(This is a provisional translation for reference purpose only.
The original text is in Japanese.)
2. Questions and Answers
An explanation was givenby the Ministry of Defense in the early hours of today on how the situation reportshave been made regarding the recent accident of the Aegis-equipped destroyer.What do you think about the responses given by the MOD regarding this accident?Do you think they have been appropriate?
The first point is that it’s not good to say things such as “we have no information about this matter”. That’s what I have been saying. It’s not appropriate to maintain silence on the issue of the time until the Japan Coast Guard announces the details, and thus, I, on my own responsibility, issued an instruction to the MOD to disclose information which is sufficiently clear and suitable for release. There is another point to note. Releasing information which is only partially available without confirming whether each time point in question is accurate can result in needless confusion. As for the time at issue, “3:55 A.M.”, it obviously takes time to confirm the accuracy of this time and I believe that such confirmation was made in an orderly manner. In addition, the information obtained by the MOD is shared by the law enforcement authorities of the Japan Coast Guard, and releasing such information requires confirmation as to whether it is suitable for release. As I mentioned in my responses to questions at the Diet committee meeting yesterday, we had received a request from the Japan Coast Guard not to touch upon the core of the investigation. What touches upon the core and what does not, in some aspects, can be relevant to the cause (of the accident), and thus the discussion was highly abstract implying that our interview could touch upon the core of the investigation. I heard that it took a considerable time to confirm with the Japan Coast Guard ? “Is there really any problem disclosing this information? Now that we know it, we would like to release it. But, we are wondering if this could cause any impact on the investigation. Are you sure there is no problem?” Therefore, even if there is a time gap between when the MOD received the information and when it was released, it was caused by the considerable period of time required for confirming the facts and determining its suitability for release. Please look at it this way: What is the benefit in hiding the fact that (the DDG Atago spotted a light of the fishing vessel) twelve minutes before (the accident)? What is the significance of doing that? The MOD is openly announcing even disadvantageous stories against itself. I believe, however, that disclosing a number that could be inaccurate or not suitable for release is much worse.
(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)
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