Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister(09:55-10:04 A.M. September 10, 2010)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (Doorstepping)
Time & Date: 09:55-10:04 A.M. September 10, 2010
Place: 1st Floor Lobby of Building A, MOD
(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.

1. Announcements

At a Cabinet meeting some time ago it was decided that Japan would dispatch personnel to the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). The Ministry will dispatch two officials from the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to the International Peace Cooperation Corps to act as military liaison officers for gathering information on issues such as the security situation. The dispatch is scheduled to take place in late September.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
A few moments ago, prior to the Cabinet meeting, the Okinawa Policy Council, which had suspended its activities, held the first meeting after almost five and a half years. The Council seems to have discussed how to reduce the burden on Okinawa separately from the Futenma issue. Please tell us your thoughts on the significance of the reopening of the Council at this time.

Minister:
Since the transfer of power to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), there has not been a place to carry out comprehensive consultations with Okinawa. This is something I have pointed out from early on. It seems that the Okinawa side is likely to focus solely on the issue of the U.S. bases. I don't think that this is adequate. Meanwhile, after the replacement of the Chief Cabinet Secretary, I told now-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku about this issue. When Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima came to Tokyo, I also told him that we should make sure to carry out comprehensive discussions, which was welcomed by the Governor. In this sense, I think that the Council has been resumed at the right time.

Question:
The white paper "The Defense of Japan 2010" was reported on in today's Cabinet meeting. Looking over the whole thing, how do you feel about the execution of the white paper? In addition, are there any particular points that you would like to draw attention to?

Minister:
It's my first white paper as the Minister of Defense and so I'd say I am quite proud of it. One concept for the white paper this year is to show the Ministry of Defense or the Self-Defense Forces as they really are - not that I mean to say that previous white papers didn't show that, but that this year we made sure to add more pictures, use plain expressions, and feature the opinions of more people inside and outside the Ministry in each column. I believe that we have completed a white paper that is easy for the Japanese people to understand.

Question:
At the House of Councilors' Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense yesterday, referring to V-22 Osprey aircrafts, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada stated, "There is pretty big possibility that they will be deployed. The deployment would also result in a change in flight paths." What is your opinion on the possibility of the deployment?

Minister:
The deployment plans of the U.S. Forces seem to be heading in that direction. In working-level discussions, the U.S. side has exchanged opinions on the assumption that Ospreys will be deployed. So there is no doubt in my mind that it is going to happen. The strange thing is that, in relation to the Futenma Air Station relocation issue, for some reason the U.S. side has yet to say exactly whether Ospreys will be deployed to Okinawa or not. We have, therefore, reached the same mindset as Foreign Minister Okada through our various discussions with the U.S. side and the perspective on the U.S. forces realignment initiative, including the transfer of U.S. forces to Guam.

Question:
Please tell us about the significance of dispatching personnel to act as military liaison officers for peacekeeping operations (PKO) in Timor-Leste.

Minister:
I talked with President of Timor-Leste Jos? Manuel Ramos-Horta about it when he visited Japan some months ago. Also, the Japanese Ambassador to Timor-Leste came back to Japan sometimes to give us briefings on the international situation, including that country .There I was informed that two positions would happen to be vacant due to rotations, and a Japanese contribution was requested. Furthermore, the President of the country and the United Nations have also made a strong request for a Japanese contribution.

Question:
Regarding the white paper, this year there are in-depth descriptions in recognition of the situation in China compared to the past years. I would like to know why this is. In addition, the deterrence provided by the Marine Corps, the significance of which has been highlighted in connection with Futenma issue, is also described in detail, and I wonder as well what this is signaling.

Minister:
In regard to the military power of China, actually, from last year and throughout this year, the situation has changed significantly, and news reports on this matter have caught the eye of the public as well. This being the case, we have clearly stated the situation and newly included information on our efforts to respond to that. I think that eventually, we could distinctly express our recognition of the situation in the white paper. As for the issue of the deterrence provided by the Marine Corps, I am not sure which discussion you are referring to exactly. Are you referring to discussion within the debates for the DPJ presidential election?

Question:
I'm asking about the discussions during the administration of the former-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama as well.

Minister:
I think that the deterrent power provided mainly by the U.S Marine Corps is still indispensable under the security environment surrounding Japan. Furthermore, as I mentioned, looking at China's military buildup and its activities over the ocean, I think that it should be obvious that the significance of the deterrence has been increasing. In relation to the U.S. military realignment initiative, some people point out that the transfer of the U.S. forces to Guam is symbolizing the U.S. Forces leaving Okinawa, but I believe that this is based on a fundamentally incorrect understanding of the situation and would mislead the public understanding of national security. So, I'd like to say that the Ministry of Defense should continue to provide accurate information to the public.

Question:
A collision of a Chinese fishing boat and a Japan Coast Guard vessel occurred near the Senkaku Islands, and afterwards the captain of the fishing boat was arrested by the Japanese-side. Some reports say that the Chinese side has dispatched extra ships to the area, possibly for surveillance purpose. How is the Ministry dealing with it?

Minister:
We have been constantly enhancing our monitoring efforts now. This morning the Chinese ships were observed leaving the area. I feel that the situation around the Islands has settled down for the time being. I'm not sure what sort of diplomatic talks will be taking place on this issue in the future, but from our perspective, putting the importance on the situation on site, it seems that things have calmed down a bit, I think.

(END)

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