Press Conference by the Defense Minister(10:20-10:29 A.M., July 13, 2012)
- Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date 10:20-10:29 A.M., July 13, 2012
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 Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.
Today, a one-year extension of the Anti-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden off the Coast of Somalia by the Self-defense Force (SDF) has been approved in the Security Council and the cabinet meeting. The MOD/SDF would like to maintain close coordination with the related Ministries and Agencies to expend all possible measures in continuing with the prevention of piracy problems.
2. Questions and Answers
The Anti-piracy activity has been extended this time, and I believe this is the third time it has been extended. Please comment on the situation awareness on the site and the necessity of its future activities.
Regarding the piracy issue in the Gulf of Aden off the Coast of Somalia, when looking at the number of cases, there was a decrease for this year in comparison to the previous year. However, the situation still remains unpredictable. The Anti-piracy activities conducted by the SDF have been the protection of commercial ships, and this has been highly regarded by other countries. As mentioned beforehand, due to the fact that the situation remains unpredictable, we have considered that it is necessary to extend this activity by a year. Thus, as was mentioned in the beginning, we received the approval to extend this activity for a year. This time, the response guidelines have been slightly modified, and I would like to mention two points: First, we have established a local coordination center in Djibouti as our unit composition. This was due to the fact that when the SDF that are conducting activities in Djibouti needed to respond to coordination and contacts not only from the government in Djibouti but also with other units that had been dispatched from other countries and with various persons that have came from various countries to the site, the commander of the Surface unit was out at sea, and the commander of the Air unit was conducting the response. However, this requirement has been increasing considerably, so we have established a new Djibouti local coordination center staffed by three SDF personnel led by a Colonel/Captain to conduct activities that will represent the SDF unit on the field -- in effect to act as the overall “face” of Japan. Thus, we have established a local coordination center due to said reason. The other point is that the requirements of the unit that is conducting in guarding the P-3C patrol aircraft of the Air unit have increased considerably. The reason for this is that the overall number of employees hired from the local population has been increasing, and the number of local employees going in and out of the main gate has also been increasing, which has increased the requirements on guard duty, and the current number of personnel is simply not enough to cope with this. In light of this situation of severe working conditions, we have decided to increase the number of personnel for the unit responsible for guard duty. Originally, the Air unit and the guard unit had around 180 personnel in total, but we have changed the lineup to around 190 personnel in total, and this activity has been extended for another year. The last point is what I had mentioned at the beginning, but with regard to the alignment, the fact that we have seen the conditions on the field, and have implemented improvements on the two issues can be said to be the major changes and modifications we have made in our response guidelines.
Yesterday, you answered to the questions given in the Diet that a civilian cargo ship that is carrying the Osprey has left Hawaii and is now heading towards Guam. Did you receive any message from the U.S. side on where it will pass through after that, and on what date it will arrive in Iwakuni?
No. As I, the Minister of Defense, and the Prime Minister answered in the Diet, we have promised to give a message in advance to the local communities when we have received notification from the U.S. side that it will be arriving into port in Iwakuni. I have not received a formal notification on the exact date from the U.S. side yet.
Yesterday, I think the Okinawa Municipal Council for Military Land Conversion and Base Problems, which is made up of the Governor and the municipalities where the bases are located, has made a request that the prefecture would very much like to postpone or cancel the deployment (of the Osprey) to Okinawa until its safety has been reconfirmed. Has the Japanese government so far made any particular requests or made any new requests to the U.S. government regarding the modification of the plan to go into full-fledged operation in early October, as was given in the Host Nation Notification?
There are currently no changes in the content of the Host Nation Notification or the press release that was issued by the U.S. government on the same day.
In the trials related to the “Tachikaze,” an interim report has been given from the Maritime Staff Office. It has revealed things such as a flaw by the personnel responsible for information disclosure, inappropriate control of administrative documents, and the fact that the person in charge of the Yokosuka District Headquarters had confirmed the presence of the document at the beginning of this year, but eventually did not report this. Please comment on your opinion on this, and as it is expected that a final report on this will be coming out, how do you feel about what should be revealed further in this final report?
I think the so-called interim report has been explained by the Maritime Staff Office. It is deeply regrettable that such an event occurred, namely where there were flaws in the control of documents that were supposed to be controlled under the proper requirements within the Maritime Staff Office. With regard to what kind of situation will develop during the time after the interim report up to the final report, they are currently verifying the facts, with the Maritime Staff Office playing the key role, so I have not received any reports after that.
I have a question concerning the right of collective self-defense. Yesterday, the Prime Minister remarked that, “this should be debated in the Diet,” to the issue where the LDP has submitted a Bill in the Diet. However, since the DPJ became the ruling party, the government has yet to express its own ideas on this. If that is the case, then there is no basis on which to conduct a debate. Is there any particular plan or thoughts within the government, and particularly within the MOD to conduct some consideration on this and start a debate on this issue?
Not at the moment. The Prime Minister had mentioned in his answer that, “I don’t have any ideas on the right of collective self-defense at the moment,” and I think I gave a similar answer to that as well.
- Press Resources