Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Onodera(03:45-03:55 P.M. January 6, 2014)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 03:45-03:55 P.M. January 6, 2014
Place: In front of the Ministry of Defence of India
(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:
Would you please tell us what was discussed at the meeting today?

Minister:
Indian Defence Minister Antony and I had a bilateral defense ministerial conference earlier today. This is the first time in four years for a Japanese Defense Minister to visit India. We had a very meaningful talk. Our meeting lasted much longer than was scheduled. I explained to him mainly about Japan’s national security strategy and the National Defense Program Guidelines which were recently adopted as well as the concept of proactive pacifism arising from the principle of international cooperation which the Abe Cabinet is holding up. Minister Antony, on the other hand, spoke of the current issues concerning India’s security environment and defense cooperation between India and Japan. As a result, we reached a mutual agreement on several aspects of defense cooperation. It is of particular importance for the Japanese side to further strengthen the relationship with India as is also indicated by Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India scheduled at the end of this month.

Also, as part of the bilateral defense cooperation, the first meeting by the joint working group was held to discuss Japan’s US-2 aircraft. Subsequently, I expressed my hope to hold the next meeting in Japan.

Regarding the United Nations peacekeeping operations in progress in South Sudan, India has been sending one of the largest forces there. Since the Indian force is playing a role of maintaining peace and order in Juba where the SDF is being deployed, it is vital for Japan and India to work cooperatively in order for the SDF to fulfill its mission in South Sudan. Minister Antony and I shared the same view.

Question:
Regarding the meeting of the joint working group on the US-2 aircraft, did you have more specific discussion on, for example, what roles the two countries would play in manufacturing, in addition to proposing to hold the next meeting in Japan?

Minister:
While today’s meeting was carried out between the two defense ministers, a working group at the vice-minister level has already been formed. They have been dealing with specific issues.

Question:
Have you not discussed the schedule for the next meeting expected to be held in Japan?

Minister:
That schedule is yet to be determined. However, if the next meeting will be held in Japan, we will welcome the Indian side to inspect, ride and check the performance of a real US-2 aircraft.

Question:
Was the topic concerning the air defense identification zone the Chinese have created raised during the conference with the Indian side?

Minister:
I pointed out the problems associated with the air defense identification zone the Chinese have set up, and the Indian side replied that they would pay close attention to those problems as has been done by the international community.

Question:
Did you discuss specific kinds of defense cooperation that the two countries would like to focus on?

Minister:
Both sides agreed to continue Japan-India joint exercises, particularly those conducted between the MSDF and the Indian Navy, on a regular basis. We also agreed to promote active interactions between senior officers from the two countries.

Question:
I have a question that is unrelated to India. According to a statement from the U.S. side, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, during the telephone conference with you on the 4th, urged the Japanese side to repair its relations with neighboring countries out of concern that the visit to Yasukuni Shrine by Prime Minister Abe may have had a negative impact. Could you elaborate on this statement?

Minister:
Secretary Hagel called for a telephone conference with me. As I recall, we talked about various issues, and in particular, we carried out an in-depth discussion on the plan to reduce the impact on Okinawa. It is true that Secretary Hagel referred to Japan’s neighboring countries during our discussion on the recent security environment. However, he did not place special emphasis on that issue, and treated it as one of many current issues the U.S. side is paying attention to. His advice to us was to be careful about maintaining good relations with neighboring countries and to build positive relations especially with South Korea in light of the Japan-U.S.-South Korea alliance having been playing a vital role for the security of East Asia. In any case, we did not perceive that the aforementioned issue was focused on and generated an argument.

Question:
Was that issue concerning the visit to Yasukuni Shrine brought up during the conference today with the Indian side?

Minister:
The Indian side did not raise that issue at all today. However, I purposely approached that issue to illustrate the policies and concept behind the Abe Cabinet by paraphrasing Prime Minister Abe’s statement, “We need to build a kind of nation where no one will suffer from the horrors of war ever again in view of remorse for the past conduct. I hope that Japan will contribute to world peace in cooperation with friends in Asia and in the world.” I said this to Minister Antony in person and I believe that he understood it.

Question:
Concerning that issue, did you carry out a deliberation or did Minister Antony make any comment on that?

Minister:
He did not make a comment specifically on this issue, but he expressed his general view that Japan has been playing an extremely vital role. Also, for example, India and Japan are both participating in the U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan where the SDF’s engineer unit is constructing infrastructure while the Indian force is maintaining peace and order. Minister Antony and I agreed that such relations are valuable and that the two countries would continue mutual cooperation in various fields.

Question:
Do you expect that the SDF will continue to engage in the current mission in South Sudan?

Minister:
We have not identified major obstacles present in South Sudan which may hinder the activities of the SDF there particularly in Juba where the SDF is based. However, the security situation is expected to change on a daily basis. Keeping this in mind, I accepted the offer from the Indian side to give us a detailed explanation mainly on the situation in South Sudan at the dinner meeting later today. There, I hope to gain much information useful to the PKO activities by the SDF from the Indian side that has been dispatching one of the largest forces to South Sudan and that presumably holds a great deal of information.

Question:
Did the Indian side make a new proposition to the Japanese side this time?

Minister:
The two countries have already made a number of new proposals to each other by now at various levels such as concluding a memorandum for defense exchange and holding working group meetings on the US-2 aircraft. Given that we have already discussed those issues to a great extent, both sides agreed today that it is important to take care of any problems quickly and move those plans forward.

Question:
According to a news report from the China Central Television on your official duties, specifically on your work with the US-2 aircraft, if successful, this will be the first export of defense equipment by Japan, which is seeking a way to relax the Three Principles on Arms Export. What is your reaction to such concern?

Minister:
I believe that China is probably the biggest exporter of weapons in the world. In this view, I feel there is an incongruity that China, which sells lots of weapons globally, is concerned about Japan’s attempt to export the US-2, which is not even a weapon but just a seaplane. I speculate that the international community has the same view as ours.

(End)

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