Press Conference by the Defense Minister (11:46-12:02 A.M. October 13, 2009)
Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:46-12:02 A.M. October 13, 2009
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)(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 purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.
2. Questions and Answers
After visiting Afghanistan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada said, "It will be difficult to enact a law for continuing replenishment activities in the Indian Ocean during the extraordinary Diet session." Is there a possibility that the Ministry of Defense will resume replenishment activities after withdrawal?
As I have been saying, since the law will expire in January of next year, we will be withdrawing vessels steadily in accordance with the law. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs is saying, we have not particularly discussed about what to do thereafter, and the reality is that the Government has not discussed resumption of the mission under a new law, given the tight schedule of the extraordinary Diet session, which is coming up soon. Therefore, Minister Okada's statement is the same as our thoughts. I would like to discuss thoroughly with the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the ministers concerned what should be done after the withdrawal, including the direction to take and what kinds of support should be extended as international contributions.
On the relocation of Futenma Air Station, US Assistant Secretary of State Campbell said, "We hope to have real progress over the course of the next several weeks in preparation for President Obama's visit here," yesterday in the meeting with Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Nagashima. Could you please tell us again about the schedule for policy decisions on the relocation of the Futenma Air Station, in particular, what work the Government needs to do before President Obama's visit?
It is an undisputable fact that there exists an agreement between the two countries. On the other hand, there was a government change, giving birth to the new administration. Furthermore, Okinawan politics underwent a considerable change. Considering these three points, the timetable for policy decisions is extremely important. Nevertheless, I think it is impossible for us to resolve all pending issues by the time of President Obama's visit to Japan to see the two leaders reaching a bilateral agreement next month. Right now, we are reviewing the agreement made during the previous administration, and the US side has also been cooperative by showing us relevant documents in the director general-level meetings. I have heard that Assistant Secretary Campbell expressed his hope that our new administration conducts a thorough review on the agreement. Therefore, I think our priority is to work on this review in a steady but prompt manner.
Concerning the revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), there have been reports about postponing the works that are supposed to be completed by the end of this year. How do you perceive the current state, in light of the instructions given by the Prime Minister on the NDPG at the start of this administration? What have you been discussing with the Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary? Also, how are you going to select experts for a new advisory body for the new administration?
I am aware of some media reports about postponement, but there is absolutely no intention on our side -- I mean the government's side -- to postpone this important task. Indeed, I met with the Prime Minister today and proposed how to proceed with formulating the NDPG and the Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP), which he approved. As a result, the issue will be discussed shortly at ministerial meetings and other venues. I also told the Prime Minister that the new administration should seriously work on this issue, and the Prime Minister completely agreed to do so.
Can we assume that you will not necessarily stick to completing all works by the end of this year?
Sufficient discussion is needed since this is an issue of major importance. On the other hand, we have a budget formulation coming up. In order to formulate a budget, we need a certain policy direction as a basis. In sum, my stance is to work on this issue in a way so as not to cause any problems in the budget formulation.
(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)
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