Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (11:15-11:25 A.M. April 6, 2012)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:11:15-11:25 A.M. April 6, 2012
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)
(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.

1. Announcements

Recently, we selected Mr. Toshiyuki Shikata as Special Advisor to the Defense Minister, and received the cabinet approval in today's cabinet meeting. I have appointed him to the post starting from today. Personally, I have high expectations for Special Advisor to the Defense Minister Shikata in providing beneficial opinions and advice based on his insights mainly toward the response by the SDF to large-scale disasters, which includes "Strong local earthquakes in the Metropolitan areas" and "Nuclear disasters" which represent one of the policy issues held by the MOD, and I have asked for him to assume this post.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
Regarding the response toward North Korea's missile, the PAC-3 units and GSDF units have now been deployed in the southwestern islands. What is your perspective on the strengthening of the defense posture in the southwestern islands given in the National Defense Program Guidelines, such as the deployment of units to the southwestern islands in response to this missile?

Minister:
This time, it has been a response to the launch notice given by North Korea. It is not something specifically related to the strengthening of our defense posture. This can be said to be the preparatory stage of a disaster dispatch, and as an advance response, we are currently listening to the requests given from the people in the local areas in order to respond when necessary. We are making the appropriate posture to make sure that nothing unexpected or something remotely possible will occur.

Question:
The other day, the bill to increase the Consumption Tax (rate) was approved in the cabinet meeting. However, the Ministry's top three politicians and others who were close to former DPJ President Ozawa have submitted their resignations in protest to this. How do you see this turmoil, considering that you often acted together with former DPJ President Ozawa and Diet members close to him?

Minister:
I had received explanation on this bill to raise the tax when I was affiliated with the Committee on Financial Affairs. Many people have come together -- especially from Europe which has made an international commitment -- and each country is working under the determination to strike a balance between rebuilding their public finance and achieving economic growth. In view of this, I feel that it will be a major breakthrough for our country if we can strike a balance between these two factors. Therefore, I feel that this cabinet needs to make further efforts toward obtaining the understanding of the people. Our country has experienced many things, and has overcome them all up to now. My feeling toward this bill is that we have a major responsibility to succeed in achieving economic growth through utilizing the resources of our nation in order to avoid causing anxiety in the lives of the people up to the time when the tax is raised, and that is how I am responding.

Question:
How about the submissions of resignations?

Minister:
They are all Diet members with remarkable abilities, as well as being my colleagues. I feel that it would be the best if these people could continue to dedicate themselves to their duty. In that sense, I think that this situation is highly regrettable, and I believe that they will definitely come to contribute as Diet members of the DPJ.

Question:
Regarding the issue of Futenma Air Station, there are various newspaper reports giving numbers of ¥20 billion and above as repair costs over eight years. Can you clarify the facts on this, and tell us how you feel about the necessity of repairs for Futenma Air Station?

Minister:
Futenma Air Station is one of the most dangerous airfields in the world. Therefore, the basic premise of the government and myself is that this will not become a permanent fixture. This has been confirmed and we perceive it as such. On the other hand -- you may already be aware of this -- Futenma Air Station is an airfield that has been in service for fifty years. In view of this, we must also address the issue of its safety and the environmental problems, such as noise pollution. Concerning the period of eight years, this is something that I have never heard about. It is still under negotiation. In my opinion, if something is to be required, it should be decided on a yearly basis. Therefore, the "eight years" that you mentioned is something totally outside my scope of understanding.

Question:
How do you feel about the fact that the opposition has confirmed the submission of a censure motion against you?

Minister:
I would like to give my best, day by day.

Question:
In relation to the Futenma issue in Okinawa, Senator Webb, with whom you talked the other day, is scheduled for a lecture at the Members' Office Building of the House of Councillors, and to conduct a press conference in support of the plan to integrate (Futenma Air Station) into Kadena together with several Diet members of the DPJ. What does the government think the fact that a plan of integration into Kadena is being proposed from within the party, although the government's basic premise is for its relocation to Henoko?

Minister:
I have two points to say on this. I have indeed met with Senator Webb. However, at the onset, I said that "The standpoint of our government and the MOD is that the relocation to Henoko, which is based on the Japan-U.S. Agreement, is the basic premise." There was no further mention on this topic, so I understood it as having his understanding. Concerning the actions of the DPJ Diet members, I think it is a personal issue, but I have yet to hear about the details.

Question:
Regarding the Futenma issue, you mentioned beforehand that you would like to address the issue of noise pollution and environmental problems.

Minister:
It does not mean that we are going to provide allowances. Considering that Futenma Air Station has been in service for fifty years, there are various problems occurring in relation to this. Of course, this expense will be paid for by the U.S. However, regarding the specific details, they are being raised as topics in the consultations, but nothing has been decided on this for now.

Question:
In Henoko, the issue of noise pollution in elementary school classrooms is becoming a major problem. In that sense, does the MOD have any response measures toward issues concerning noise pollution and the environment?

Minister:
The specific details are under consultation. I hope to have your understanding that nothing has been ultimately decided for now.

(End)

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