Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister(10:20-10:31 A.M. September 21, 2010)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 10:20-10:31 A.M. September 21, 2010
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 purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.

1. Announcements

None.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
In your press conference after the first Cabinet meeting last week, responding to the question on the relocation of Futenma Air Station, you said you would tackle the issue with a sense of speed, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the current Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, as well as being a year to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance that is the cornerstone of the national policy for Japan. Please tell us if this means that you are planning to draw a final conclusion within this year.

Minister:
What comes to mind first is that we must mitigate the burden shouldered by Okinawa. For that, we must by all means come to a conclusion at an early date. The completion of the working-level consultation between Japan and the United States marks a certain progress, but we cannot advance further unless we obtain the understanding of the Okinawan people in this regard. In this sense, we must comprehensively take into account the political timetable in Okinawa, as well as the Japan-U.S. summit meeting. For all that, not delaying the process, but fully taking them into consideration, we would like to tackle the issue with a sense of speed. That is what I really mean.

Question:
Concerning the revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and the Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP) instructed by the Prime Minister, what approach will you take with regard to the defense of islands? In particular, you have said in the previous conference that the security situation in the East China Sea is not absolutely stable. Also, some report says that the size of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) stationed in Okinawa will be increased to about 20,000. We would like to hear your thoughts.

Minister:
I received an instruction from the Prime Minister to finalize the revision of the NDPG by the end of this year, in discussion with the related ministers. To this end, we have just started such a discussion at the Security Council on September 14. Although it would be an extremely tight schedule, we are determined to draw a conclusion within this year, and also formulate a new MTDP based on this. With regard to the defense of islands, we have included and requested research expenses for the next fiscal year's budget. I have always said that it is desirable to put a JSDF unit on the Sakishima Islands in some way, for which we would like to start a study. Never have I heard of the figure "20,000", though.

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

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