Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(11:11-11:19 A.M. March 6, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:11-11:19 A.M. March 6, 2016
Place: Ominato District Headquarters, Office Building, 2F
(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:
First of all, could you tell us the aim of your visit to this base, and the significance of locating a base here in Ominato?

Minister:
As the Minister of Defense, I have been making inspection visits to the units around our country and attending a variety of events. This occasion is the 24th Deployment Surface Forces for Counter Piracy Enforcement. For about eight years since 2009, we have been conducting counter piracy enforcement activities in Djibouti and the Gulf of Aden, and I have come to encourage our units as they ship out for their mission, and to grasp the state of affairs. As I addressed them just now, I feel proud and happy to engage our units, and to see the sparkle in their eyes and their eagerness for their mission. Although this is a long-term mission, it is an extremely important mission, in which they work together with the Japan Coast Guard in order to act with the international community to protect the safety of navigation on the ocean, and the safety of navigation for civilian vessels in particular. I hope that they will work hard and return safely.

Question:
My apologies for changing the subject, but regarding the settlement proposal for Henoko in Okinawa, do you intend to personally provide an explanation to the Okinawa side going forward?

Minister:
With the acceptance of the settlement proposal, the Government and the Prefecture agreed that we would consult to resolve this issue amicably - that we would like to resolve the issue by making efforts on both sides through faithful implementation of the settlement proposal. I intend to consult with Okinawa to that end.

Question:
What about the idea of going to Okinawa yourself to explain your thoughts and seek their understanding?

Minister:
I have already been taking opportunities to visit Okinawa and meet and consult with the mayors where the bases are located in particular, and with the Governor and the Mayor of Nago City. Just two days ago last Friday, I talked with the Governor and the Mayor. We talked on the substance of this settlement and the settlement states that we will be consulting in good faith toward an amicable solution, and I intend to talk with them in good faith.

Question:
It is my understanding that there were municipalities that showed understanding for the relocation. How will you explain it to them?

Minister:
I have been engaged in the relocation of MCAS Futenma for almost 20 years, and there are people who have cooperated with, gave their understanding for, and accepted the relocation. We will give these people a proper explanation of the acceptance of the settlement on this occasion and related matters. It is our intent to secure their understanding, in that the Government will continue to aim at the relocation of MCAS Futenma.

Question:
If you are going to make a visit, will you give an explanation to Governor Onaga and the Mayor of Nago City?

Minister:
Yes, I had been planning to give an explanation, and it is my intent to continue to explain properly to the Governor and the Mayor of Nago City.

Question:
On a related matter, I assume that you intend to visit Okinawa. Do you have plans to go as early as this month?

Minister:
The national government, meaning the Government as a whole and not just me, has been working on the matter in order to make our thoughts understood properly by the people of Okinawa. As Defense Minister, I have been continuing to talk directly with the mayors who host the bases, and it is my intention to continue consultations.

Question:
My apologies for returning to the subject of your inspection visit. Regarding the destroyers that will be dispatched to the Gulf of Aden, on their return, they have passed through the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries and conducted joint exercises and the like, and I assume that this will be continued going forward. Could you tell us the significance of such joint exercises?

Minister:
In the past, while shipping out for counter piracy enforcement or on the way back, we have been taking opportunities to conduct bilateral and multilateral joint exercises and training with countries surrounding the South China Sea. The purpose of all the exercises is to improve combat maneuverability. The exercises this time will also focus on the improvement of combat maneuverability through exercises related to the moves of the personnel, the movement of the vessels, and the like, which are necessary for counter piracy enforcement. The exercises do not have any particular country or regions in mind. The purpose of joint exercises with other countries is not only to enhance the combat maneuverability of the SDF but also to strengthen cooperation with the other countries. The National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) state that we will actively promote bilateral and multilateral joint training and exercises in the Asia-Pacific region, so it is our intention to contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region through such joint exercises. In addition, I was asked about the significance of the Ominato District. The Ominato District is responsible for the security area of the surrounding seas including two straits, the Tsugaru and Soya Straits, which are important international straits. In Ominato, the main units, including the security units, the repair and supply facility, and the ammunition maintenance and supply facility, are stationed under the district headquarters, while units are stationed in Hakodate, Yoichi, and Wakkanai. There are five ships and 20 support ships, including towing ships. I am now scheduled for an inspection tour of the units, and I intend to give my encouragement to our units, who are executing the mission that they have been given to protect our country. I also wish to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the host city of Mutsu as well as the various communities throughout Aomori Prefecture for their support and cooperation.

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