Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (10:50-11:09 A.M. January 23, 2009)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping)
Time & Date: 10:50-11:09 A.M. January 23, 2009
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:
We have heard that you met with the Prime Minister prior to the Cabinet Meeting this morning and reported the results of the review at the MOD for measures against piracy, in response to the Prime Minister's instruction at the end of the year that the MOD should review the issue of dispatching the SDF for anti-piracy measures. Please let us know the details of your report on the results of the review, and also any further instructions you might have received from the Prime Minister this time.

Minister:
We have undertaken a steady review since the Prime Minister instructed me at the end of the last year to speed up the review. I reported to him the results of the review prior to the Cabinet Meeting today. While pointing out that we should principally establish a new law (for anti-piracy measures), I also reported to him what responses are possible under the current system of the SDF, as the stopgap measure under the current law, as well as what issues should be resolved. The Prime Minister told me to strive as much as possible on this issue. I would like to undertake a review on those points that need to be further examined in the anti-piracy measures by the SDF.

Question:
Could you tell us more details about the results of the review you reported this morning?

Minister:
The report covers issues as discussed by the ruling parties' project team (PT), as you have already learned. I also reported what degrees of anti-piracy measures are feasible, given the various equipment available at the current SDF and other matters.

Question:
The ruling parties' PT focused on the issue of the rules of engagement at the scene of dispatch. How did the MOD handle this issue in the report on the results of its review to the Prime Minister?

Minister:
As discussed in the PT, weapons will be used pursuant to the Law Concerning the Execution of Duties of Police Officials in the maritime security operations. In this context, I explained to him how to address issues including what circumstances would allow the firing of weapons and whether shootings may target those individuals attempting to board our vessels.

Question:
As for the future preparations, you will presumably give an order to the MSDF for the preparations for the dispatch, as soon as the relevant policy has been fixed. Did you explain to the Prime Minister a timeline for the preparations, including the total span of time required for the preparation?

Minister:
Thus far, I have reported the results of our review. Meanwhile, the ruling party's PT has put its ideas into shape. I have heard that the PT will report it to the Prime Minister. We will most likely make our decisions after the PT's report.

Question:
Once again concerning a new law, discussions in earnest will be expected to start at the PT and other meetings. The MOD has, presumably, been discussing specifically what issues it must work on and what new law, specifically, it hopes to enact. How did you report these points to the Prime Minister?

Minister:
Today, my report focused on the results of our review on maritime security operations. I had no opportunity in a short time to make comments on the new law. Currently, the Cabinet Secretariat is taking the initiative to compile a draft of a new law at the Headquarters for Ocean Policy. We did not report on the law.

Question:
Yesterday, the Yokohama District Marine Accident Tribunal gave its ruling on the incident of DDG Atago. The ruling primarily attributed insufficient monitoring on the side of Atago to the occurrence of the incident. In addition, the tribunal issued a recommendation to the 3rd Escort Flotilla to which Atago belongs that they should ensure thoroughly safety education. How do you perceive these rulings?

Minister:
I take it seriously that the 3rd Escort Flotilla received a recommendation at the marine accident tribunal yesterday. I recognize that an unacceptable incident has been caused by the SDF, whose mission is to protect the lives and assets of the people, resulting in the death of Mr. Haruo Kichisei and his son Tetsuhiro. I would like to extend my heartfelt apologies to their bereaved family and related people once again. Taking this recommendation seriously, the MOD will do its best to take thorough measures to prevent the recurrence of any similar incident.

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