Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (10:30-10:40 A.M. December 9, 2008)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:10:30-10:40 A.M. December 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:
Media reports say the MOD has decided to request a budget of 100 billion yen for expenses related to the realignment of the US Forces in Japan outside the frame of the defense-related expenses. Please also tell us the background of the five-times surge of the realignment-related expenses compared to the previous year. Some say the budget may influence the US-Japan Roadmap of the Realignment Implementation, currently scheduled to be completed in 2014. Please tell us your perspective on this issue.

Minister:
I am aware of the media reports in question. Among the realignment-related projects, measures to ease burdens of the local communities must be taken, based on the considerations in the process of budgetary compilation, since these measures need to reflect the results of coordination with the local areas and the US forces to be made during the process. Currently, the final coordination is being made and thus no specific numerical information can be announced. In relation to the separate handling of the realignment-related expenses, as has just been mentioned, the expenses in question are referred to in the Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2006, which is called the government's Basic Policy 2006. In these policies, which are the guidelines for the estimated budget requests in the current fiscal year, it is stated that necessary measures must be taken in the case where it is expected that there will be potential obstacles in the way of the adequate and prompt implementation of measures for easing the burdens on local communities associated with the US forces' realignment if drastic rationalization and enhancement of efficiency are carried out, and that such necessary measures are to be considered during the process of the budgetary compilation for each fiscal year. Against these backdrops, coordination is underway at the financial authorities for the handling of the expenses related to the US forces' realignment for FY2009. Therefore, no specific comments can be made at this stage.

Question:
Major newspapers have announced steep declines in the approval rates for the Cabinet to slightly above 20%. As one of the Cabinet members, please let us know your views on the course of these declines and what measures should be taken in the future.

Minister:
As said by the Prime Minister, the figures are very regrettable. The Prime Minister even said he is wholly responsible for the results. However, I think the numerical results reflect very difficult circumstances caused by current social factors, the economic situation and other reasons, which is further combined with some remarks of the Prime Minister and problems associated with various policies. As a Cabinet member, I further think the poll results are also attributable to our failure to give sufficient explanations of our policies. As for what to do in the future, I consider it important to respond to the current economic situation to improve it, through the budgetary compilation from now on which will incorporate measures which we have presented. As a Cabinet member, I feel much responsibility for the latest decline in the Cabinet support rates. While these figures are a definite fact, I also consider it crucial to steadily do what we can do now. I will make further efforts to gain the understanding of the people.

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

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