Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (09:38-09:40 A.M. December 19, 2008)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping)
Time & Date: 9:38-9:40 A.M. December 19, 2008
Place: Entrance of the Prime Minister's Official Residence

(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:
You were requested by the House of Councilors to explain the feasibility of uniformed SDF personnel’s answering to questions at the Diet. It is reported that the MOD explained in writing that this would be difficult.

Minister:
Difficulties are not the point. This is an issue that has also been discussed at the House of Representatives. The Diet needs to prepare the basis for facilitating it. I have explained that as long as no system is in place to provide such a basis, it will not be possible for us to respond to the request. This issue has been a focus of debate at the House of Representatives, specifically at its Committee on National Security and its Special Committee on Terrorism. The issue of security of classified information and the question of whether or not such answers should be heard in closed sessions have been discussed over a long period. If these issues are sorted out, we will naturally be able to respond to it through an appropriate system, as we have always answered a variety of questions from the Diet. In this light, I have requested that an appropriate system be established on the part of the Diet as well. It is not the fact that we refuse to have uniformed personnel answer questions at the Diet. Rather, we have explained points of concern on our side. Now, I think it is essential to ask the Diet to respond to our request.

Question:
We understand that it is promised that you will visit China within this year. Now we are nearing the year-end, how do you see the possibility of realizing the visit?

Minister:
To date we have not successfully arranged the schedule, due not to only our circumstances but also due to the situation of our counterpart. I believe that it will be quite difficult at this point to realize such a visit.

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

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