Press Conference

Press Conference by Defense Minister Ishiba ( 9:33-9:42 A.M. May 27, 2008)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:9:33-9:42 A.M. May 27, 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

At today’s Cabinet Meeting, no matters related to the Ministry of Defense were discussed. Some cabinet ministers spoke of the Cool Biz environmental campaign that will start in June.

2. Questions and Answers

Concerning Japan’s participation in the peacekeeping operations (PKO) in Sudan, some media have reported that coordination is underway towards the dispatch of an engineering unit. Please let us know the current status of the review at the MOD.

I have learned of the said report, but no such concrete decision has been made. As the Prime Minister has been repeatedly saying, Japan must pursue its role as a “Peace Fostering Nation.” While I am not exclusively referring to Sudan, I believe that Japan must consider its future activities of international peace cooperation proactively and on its own initiatives. Some media have specifically reported, “It would be the first full-fledged dispatch of the SDF troops since that for the PKO in East Timor,” or “the MOD has judged that the dispatch of personnel was possible given the comparatively stable security situations and other factors.” However, again, no such concrete decision has been made.

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will start on May 28, to be followed by the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. By when do you think the Government should make a conclusion concerning the dispatch of SDF personnel to the PKO in Sudan?

This must be determined based on various aspects such as: what situations will Japan face in the event that it acts as a Peace Fostering Nation; what Japan will do, specifically; and, if a dispatch materializes, what are the security situations. As a general principle, such a determination should be made upon assessing each of these factors. I think it is getting the order backwards to determine the timing before completing such a process. Even if a dispatch of personnel materializes, it should be made after reviewing the duties of such personnel, the needs they must fulfill, the local situations they are to face and so on. I do not believe the timing should be determined first.

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