Press Conference by the Defense Minister (09:21-09:36 A.M. March 12, 2010)
Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping)
Time&Date: 09:21-09:36 A.M. March 12, 2010
Place: In front of the Cabinet Meeting Room in the House(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.
I have some announcements to make on the reform of the Ministry of Defense. Firstly, our basic policy on the MOD reform is to proceed with the review with the entire ministry after deciding upon the pillars of discussions under the leadership of the Minister and Vice-Ministers. Secondly, in order to identify the pillars of the discussions, I will invite experts in the area of defense and security to hold a meeting with the Minister, Vice-Ministers and others. We are planning to hold two such meetings during March. The first meeting will be held on March 17 with attendance by four experts: Makoto Iokibe, President of the National Defense Academy of Japan; Ryoichi Tobe, Professor at the International Center for Japanese Studies; Katsuhiro Musashi, Professor at the Graduate School of Doshisha University; and Satoshi Morimoto, Professor at the Graduate School of Takushoku University.
2. Questions and Answers
My question is on the relocation of Futenma Air Station. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano clarified the stance yesterday, in his meeting with a group of petitioners from the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, that the elimination of the risks of Futenma Air Station will be prioritized as it was the original aim of the discussion. Given that the government is proceeding with the selection of relocation site toward the deadline of the end of May, what are your ideas about eliminating the risks of Futenma at an early date?
The original aim of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement was to eliminate the risks of Futenma, and I think the statement of the Chief Cabinet Secretary was intended to reconfirm this core principle. Everything will start moving as soon as the alternative plan is finalized. The Review Committee is currently compiling the proposals under the Chief Cabinet Secretary. Based on this plan, I intend to start working toward elimination of the risks of Futenma at the earliest possible date, in the process of negotiations with local entities and the US side. The Ministry of Defense has been taking all measures it can in the meantime, including safety improvement concerning the flight route and enlargement of the clear zone in particular, but these are all just stopgap measures. The fundamental solution will be made as I have just explained.
In this relation, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture Nakaima met Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano on March 10 and the Governor expressed his objection to the proposal to relocate the functions of Futenma to the ground area of Camp Schwab, pointing out that this would contradict the judgment of relocating the base off the shore in acknowledgement of the risk of ground area location. How do you take this statement? Could you please also tell us how you see the feasibility of the ground area proposal at the current stage?
The government’s plan has not been fixed yet. I am aware through media reports that such a plan has been proposed during the three-party discussions, but I would like to refrain from commenting on a proposal that has not been fixed yet.
(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)
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