Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping) (2:15-2:22 P.M. March 30, 2010)
Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping)
Time&Date:2:15-2:22 P.M. March 30, 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.
2. Questions and Answers
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the People's New Party (PNP) held a special press conference today and announced that they would convey to the Chief Cabinet Secretary within a day or two their intention of completely opposing the White Beach plan. What is your understanding of the current situation, in which two out of the three coalition parties have expressed their disagreement despite the government's intention of settling on a proposal by the end of March?
I am not sure about that. I have no authorization to make a comment on the status of the White Beach plan, because the Chief Cabinet Secretary has been in charge of this issue and reached some conclusion on March 23. Anyway, as I have no information at this point, I cannot tell what the two parties are thinking about on this matter.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada, on his visit to the United States, explained to Secretary of Defense Gates the Japanese government's intention of settling the Futenma issue by the end of May. What did Minister Okada tell you about the specific views exchanged during the meeting? How did Minister Okada explain to you the US response?
Secretary of Defense Gates believes that (resolving) the Futenma issue is of great importance in deepening the Japan-US defense cooperation, thereby deepening the Japan-US alliance. I assume he has received favorably the Prime Minister's determination to resolve the issue by the end of May, which was the message that Minister Okada conveyed to Secretary of Defense Gates.
In your speech that you gave last weekend in Nagano, you said that the helicopter unit should be relocated to at least two different locations. Specifically, what is your plan for the relocation of the helicopter unit?
The unit comprises 60 helicopters. While I cannot tell how many helicopters are stationed now, I believe that the number of the helicopters currently stationed in Japan is less than 30, with the rest having been dispatched to Afghanistan and elsewhere. So, for the time being, we need to think of what we will do with the helicopters stationed in Japan. And I think we should negotiate with the United States on the basis of this situation. I mean, I was just expressing my personal view, and wouldn’t say that we need to immediately find a place or places to accommodate all of the 60 helicopters.
In his press conference on March 29, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano announced that the United States would be requested to return firing/bombing ranges in Kumejima and Torishima Islands and partially lift a restriction on the waters off the eastern coast of Okinawa Island that are designated for training. What efforts do you think are necessary in order to achieve the return of these locations?
I know this has been one of Okinawa's long-held wishes, but I am doubtful whether the Chief Cabinet Secretary actually said that in the way you said. Some newspapers have written as if I made those remarks. So, I am not sure how credible the information is.
Have you never checked the article with the Chief Cabinet Secretary?
No, I have not. We have no time to spare to check every newspaper between us, as you said.
(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)
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