Outline of the Press Conference by the Defense Minister (9:30－9:39 A.M. September 24, 2008)
Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 9:30－9:39 A.M. September 24, 2008
Place:The MOD Antechamber in the House of Councilors(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the abstract of the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purpose only)
The original full text is in Japanese.
As you already know, today’s Cabinet Meeting was held for the resignation of the Cabinet. Nothing has been decided about the next stage, but I would like to thank each of you at the press club for the opportunities you have given to me, although it was only for a short time.
2. Questions and Answers
Mr. Taro Aso is expected to be selected as the Prime Minister this afternoon. Even though there is a possibility for you to be reappointed, how do you feel when you look back over the past two months on this occasion? Also, please tell us if there is anything which you have left unfinished.
I am grateful for the opportunity which I have had to assume this very responsible position, even though it was a very short period of less than two months since August 2. Looking back, I visited Okinawa, and also formulated the basic policies and implementation plan for the organizational reform of the MOD at the end of last month. Moreover, I had opportunities for the initial inspections of all of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces, as well as chances to attend ceremonies for the return of various troops (from overseas). I believe that especially on and around September 11, I was able to send an important message about the significance of our ongoing activities in the Indian Ocean through an inspection of the MSDF replenishment troops, an address of instructions on September 11 and other opportunities. I also encountered the incident concerning detection of an unidentified submarine. Furthermore, we have set up the Defense Posture Review Board as a kick-off. This Board should have a long period of discussions on the way ahead. Although it was only for a short time, I feel I have been able to engage in various work. I was committed to each activity, always keeping in mind the enhancement of morale, which was a direction I had received from the Prime Minister at my inauguration. As to how much our morale has been enhanced, I should rather leave the judgment to MOD/SDF members. At any rate, I have worked hard, keeping this in mind.
You were among those recommending Mr. Kaoru Yosano in the LDP presidency race. As a lawmaker, what do you think of the new President Aso?
I owe a great deal to Mr. Aso, because when I was first elected to the Diet, he gave me very good instructions as a senior member of the Kochikai fraction, which I also belonged to. Mr. Aso gained a landslide victory in the LDP Presidential election. He has the ability to appeal to the public, and also deep knowledge, especially of the real economy. It is like he has come in to pitch when the LDP is in the critical pinch. I believe that he will exert firm leadership for reconstruction of various things.
Concerning the incident of the unidentified submarine off Kochi Prefecture, as you just referred to, some of the media has reported that the MOD has strengthened its views that it was probably a whale. Please confirm again whether it was a submarine or not. I also would like to know your views on the fact that there is suspicion that it was a whale.
Nothing has changed in what the MOD has repeatedly explained. At 6:65 A.M., DDG Atago spotted what appeared to be a periscope of a submarine. Immediately after that, at 7:00 A.M., DDG Atago commenced search activities using active sonar and other devices. It was judged as a result that it was very likely to be a submarine. At 8:39, DDG Atago lost contact with the object. The judgment that it was very likely to be a submarine remains unchanged at this moment. I recognize various media reports being made. However, we have maintained consistency in our comments. As I said in a previous press conference, we should make any improvements necessary in association with the incident and verify various factors, so that we will be able to respond more smoothly to any similar incidents in the future.
(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)
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