Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (10:33-10:40 A.M. January 17, 2012)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:10:33-10:40 A.M. January 17, 2012
Place: Entrance of the Prime Minister's Office
(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.

1. Announcements

None

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
According to certain press reports, it is said that you will be visiting Okinawa on January 22 and 23 to meet with Governor Nakaima. Is this true?

Minister:
I hope to make my visit to Governor Nakaima when it is most convenient for him. If possible, I would like to visit Okinawa and meet in person before the Diet session starts, since this a very important issue, and to work towards getting our minds together as much as we can, so I am currently adjusting the schedules with a desire to make a visit before the start of the Diet sessions.

Question:
When you meet with Governor Nakaima, what kind of things are you intending to discuss with him?

Minister:
First, there is the current situation. Then, with regard to this issue, Japan and the U.S. as well as the people of Okinawa have been working on it for 15 years. In addition, this issue specifically affects our security and defense policy. Moreover, I made an inspection of it myself, but Futenma Air Station is one of the world's most dangerous airfields, so I feel that reduction of these burdens is going to be the mainstay of all this, so I feel that we will be focusing on how we can effectively reduce the burden that is being borne by Okinawa prefecture. I hope to learn a lot of things here.

Question:
I have raised this question before, but when you go to Okinawa, will you be asking for the understanding and cooperation for the government policy towards realizing the Japan-U.S. agreement?

Minister:
From the course of progress up to now, the Japan-U.S. agreement is a basic premise. First, we must go back to the basics, and this in essence is to restore the relationship of trust with the people of Okinawa, and to gain the understanding of everyone. Therefore, we must follow this procedure, and ultimately realize reduction of the burden, and obtain the true understanding of all Japanese people, and I hope it will form a foothold for solving this issue.

Question:
When you met with the Prime Minister before or after the cabinet meeting, were you given any instructions or reprimands by the Prime Minister on the remarks you made so far?

Minister:
Regarding the details of the cabinet meeting, I'm afraid there is nothing in particular that I have to say about it. On the description of the cabinet meeting, although I am a member of the cabinet, this is something that is being conducted by everyone, so I would like to refrain from talking about anything specific on this occasion.

Question:
So there was no individual discussion after the cabinet meeting?

Minister:
Regarding the details of the cabinet meeting, I'm afraid I would like to refrain from talking about anything on the details or anything specific to it.

Question:
There have been press reports that Prime Minister Noda met with Shokichi Kina of the DPJ Okinawa prefectural chapter yesterday and mentioned that the plan to integrate (Futenma Air Station) into Kadena will be considered as a possible option. Is the Ministry of Defense (MOD) going to consider this Kadena integration plan?

Minister:
I have heard from the secretariat of the MOD that such a statement had never been made. The Japan-U.S. agreement is a basic premise, so I cannot comment on the details of that.

Question:
I have two questions concerning the South Sudan PKO. First is that there have been discussions that the Rwandan army will be guarding the SDF facilities unit. However, there are those who are questioning the abilities of the Rwandan army. What do you think about their abilities?

Minister:
I am planning to make contact directly with the people in the field and conduct discussions on the future course to take. However, as yesterday was my first day in office, I have not been able to establish contact yet. Obviously, I would like to explain to everyone in the near future an accurate picture of the situation regarding the security conditions of South Sudan, as well as to where and how we intend to set up our base camp. I hope to establish contact with the people in the field and give a report as soon as possible.

Question:
In the process, if a situation arises where some kind of harm is inflicted towards the Rwandan army, do you have any plans on how the SDF should respond in such a case?

Minister:
With regard to the use of weapons, the South Sudan dispatch has been under the current rules. Consideration is being made with the DPJ on this, but we have yet to come to a decision on specifically how it is going to be reflected. I would like to report on this when the government or the party has decided on specific content in the future. In the meantime, we hope to take maximum precautions with regard to safety in the field.

(End)

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