Press Conference

Press Conference by Defense Minister Ishiba ( 10:01-10:10 A.M. May 9, 2008 )

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:10:01-10:10 A.M. May 9, 2008
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)

(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the abstract of the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purpose only)
The original full text is in Japanese.

1. Announcements

None

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
I believe that currently at the Ministry of Defense, you are putting together a proposal for the reform of the Ministry. It seems that there are those within the Ministry who oppose the reducing the size of the Staff Offices, which is part of this proposal advocated by you, Mr. Minister. Based on this situation, could you please tell us what kind of proposals the Ministry of Defense is going to put together going forward? Could you also tell us whether it is more likely that the Ministry will present a single proposal, or several proposals to the meeting of the Panel of Experts for Reforming MOD?

Minister:
It is not true that there are oppositions to my proposal. I am not doggedly propounding one absolute solution in my proposal, as if it were a golden rule. The questions are: how can we create a sense of unity between uniformed and civilian staff, and what should we do in order to have a Ministry which is optimal overall, rather than one where each individual part is optimal. There is also a diverse range of opinions regarding the efficient use of personnel and time, and how to maximize efficiency in the Ministry amidst limited time and human resources. There are a variety of means for succeeding in gaining an efficient organization, and we are discussing which is the best. It does not follow, therefore, that there is a clash of opinions as to the objectives of the reform. I am aware that there are many arguments as to what means should be used in order to achieve our objectives. The schedule going forward has not been decided. However, in our discussions yesterday, some members of the Panel requested that we present ideas at the next meeting in terms of “In concrete terms, this is what it is going to be like,” which is quite understandable: however much we talk in abstract theories, there are limitations. What we need are concrete discussions. In terms of the objectives that we need to achieve, I believe people’s overall understanding within the Ministry is the same. I would like people to start categorizing a number of points in terms of things like “If we reform the Ministry in this way, it will be different in such and such a way from how it is now, and will have such and such merits and demits,” and “If we reform the Ministry like this, it will be different in such and such a way from how it is now, but there will be such and such points of concern.” I personally feel confident that we are making sure and steady progress in our work towards this end.

Question:
Is the Ministry of Defense considering anything with regard to assistance for Myanmar, which has suffered a blow from the massive cyclone?

Minister:
I am not aware that the government of Myanmar is at present requesting other countries to extend any assistance related to the cyclone. Myanmar is a sovereign state, and it goes without saying that in order to do anything for a sovereign state, we need to receive a request or consent from that state for us to do this. There was a decision at today’s Cabinet Meeting on financial assistance, but currently the Ministry of Defense has not entered into any concrete considerations for doing anything in particular.

(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)

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