Press Conference by the Defense Minister(10:20-10:31 A.M. September 4, 2012)
- Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date 10:20-10:31 A.M. September 4, 2012
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)(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.
As you may already know, the cabinet personnel changes for September 10 have all been approved in today’s cabinet meeting.
2. Questions and Answers
As the (press club) supervisor, I would like to start off with the first question. You mentioned last week your forecast that it would take about a week for the independent verification process for the accident in Florida. So, is it possible to forecast a specific time for completing the compilation of the investigation process? Please kindly comment on your forecasts for this as well as for the timing for giving an explanation to Okinawa and Yamaguchi.
For the briefing on the accident investigation results for the accident in Florida that was conducted last week in Washington, D.C., the analysis team returned over the weekend and I received their report on the outline yesterday. Then again, I only received reports on what the briefing in the U.S. was like, so the analysis team will now be working as a team on the analysis process. This may take a day or two longer than a week, but I feel that the time will come for me to explain this to everyone sometime next week. After that, for the summary or the result, I am planning to report this to the Prime Minister, and then go to the local communities to explain this, and coordinating my schedules for this for now. As with before, I can’t decide everything according to my own plans , since the people I wish to meet with also have their own personal schedules, so this is also being coordinated. This schedule has yet to be fixed. I hope to be able to explain the schedule to everyone within this week, and to execute this by the end of this week.
Regarding the explanation to the Prime Minister and to the local communities that you mentioned just now, is this going to cover only the evaluation of the accident in Florida, or is it going to cover the position of MOD for the overall safety of the Osprey? Which of the two is this going to be?
At the least, I will be giving an explanation on the analysis results from our analysis team on what kind of causes were attributed for the accident in Florida. However, I also hope to be able to explain the overall framework for the kind of processes that will be conducted in order to confirm flight safety in the future. That is because although we may not have reached the stage where we can explain everything in detail, we would like to talk about our ideas to some degree, and to ask for the opinions of the local communities, and especially for those from the Governor of Yamaguchi prefecture, the Mayor of Iwakuni city and the Governor of Okinawa prefecture. Since there is going to be the need to convey our thinking, we will need to give an explanation on the framework to a certain degree and to ask for the opinions from the two prefectures on what will need to be incorporated in order to confirm its overall flight safety. That is going to be the other objective for this visit.
Currently, the Diet seems to be having some difficulties in getting the Bill for Special Provisions concerning Issuance of Government Bonds passed, and the Ministry of Finance is requesting various Ministries to put a hold on the execution of the budget. I would like to ask whether this is actually affecting the MOD in any way for now, and how it is going to affect the MOD in general if it fails to come into effect this Autumn.
As you mentioned just now, if the Bill for Special Provisions concerning Issuance of Government Bonds fails to come into effect in the current Diet session, this will have a serious impact on the funding sources for the general accounts, so there were instructions from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to carefully check the urgency of payment for expenditures from the general accounts and to restrain the execution of the budget. As you may know, regarding the expenditures for security and public order, as well as high-priority expenditures related to diplomacy and disasters, we are currently conducting a detailed check on these to exclude those that we deem as being essential. This I deem that you all know already. Therefore, regarding the process of restraining the payment for expenditures from the general budget, we are doing everything possible to avoid this from having a critical effect on the SDF activities based on the principle as mentioned beforehand. For other budgets, the MOD will be conducting necessary measures to cooperate in restraining as much as possible the execution of the budget for the government as a whole.
Regarding the Osprey, are there any plans by the government of Japan to conduct things such as in coming up with a cabinet decision or for the related Ministers to convene and create some kind of document on its methods when confirming its safety?
It may be possible for the MOD and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as other related Ministries/Agencies -- such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, for example -- to conduct consultations and receive instructions from the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister in producing a document for final confirmation of flight safety. However, we have no plans to include a cabinet meeting as part of our procedures.
Regarding the Osprey, I think there were questions on the technical aspects when you visited Okinawa and Iwakuni last week. I believe that during the meeting with the Governor of Okinawa prefecture, it was mentioned that on issues such as where computer controls do not function at low speeds of 40 knots and below, one should not merely receive the explanation from the U.S. as it is, but if it is possible to confirm the details with the U.S. side, to see if this really does not pose any problems in terms of safety. Do you have any plans to conduct a re-confirmation for the content on the investigation given by the U.S. side?
Other that what the U.S. side had explained as its result of its investigations, there have been some questions that we had raised in the briefing sessions, and we would like to consider how much of this can be explained. On the other hand, on how flight safety within Japan can be confirmed, this is something that is being consulted in the separate bilateral committee on issues such as the cause and the necessary measures/solutions that were implemented from the results of the accident investigations for the two accidents conducted by the U.S. side, and not limited to that, there is also how we are going to confirm the safety when the Osprey is conducting flight operations within our territories. Therefore, how much technical issues such as those that have been mentioned can be included is currently being negotiated, and although I can’t say this for certain, we are making efforts towards coming to an agreement in setting up a joint committee that can confirm the flight safety of the Osprey that includes some technical aspects as well. That is what we are thinking of for now.
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