Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (10:16-10:27 A.M. April 10, 2012)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:10:16-10:27 A.M. April 10, 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

None.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
North Korea has disclosed to the media around the world its missile and what it claims as being a satellite. This may be part of their information strategy, but what do you perceive as the motive for this disclosure by North Korea?

Minister:
Whatever their motives may be, our country perceives the launch that North Korea has announced this time as violating the United Nations Security Council Resolution, and it poses a threat to the peace and stability for our country and the surrounding area. Therefore, it would be most regrettable if this is to actually be conducted. The MOD will make efforts toward the collection/analysis of information concerning the movement of North Korea, and to make sure to be fully prepared from the standpoint of securing the peace and safety of our country.

Question:
You mentioned just now that you would like to make sure to be fully prepared, and the organization of the units in association with the order for the destruction measure is now complete. What kind of instructions do you intend to give in the future, such as the schedule for conducting training and so on?

Minister:
The preparations are now complete. Now, I have given the instructions for each unit to conduct training until the planned deadline date in order to maintain vigilance and to be fully prepared. We are currently maintaining the necessary posture, and are making the necessary preparations required for securing safety.

Question:
Regarding the reorganization of the U.S. Forces in Japan, it says that this will be done by the end of April. Can you tell us of the current progress situation on this?

Minister:
The Deputy Director-General-level consultations for defense and foreign affairs authorities between Japan and the U.S. were held in Tokyo in April 6, and discussions on issues such as the reorganization of the U.S. forces and cooperation in a wide range of safety agreement sectors. Generally, both Japan and the U.S. are strenuously working on the consultation from the standpoint of maintaining the deterrence force while removing the burden borne by Okinawa in ways that can be perceived at the earliest opportunity. We are now working on coordinating what can be put together in accordance with the Prime Minister's visit to the U.S. First, with regard to the unit organization and the number of personnel for the U.S. Marine Corps, we are conducting consultations to relocate at least 8,000 personnel from the Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa outside the island, as was given in the roadmap, and to maintain around 10,000 personnel in Okinawa. The details of the unit organization are still under consultation. However, we are aiming toward setting up a system where it is dispersed over a wide area in order to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the U.S. forces in general in the Asia-Pacific region. Next, with regard to the return of the lands south of Kadena, it is going to be difficult to provide the return plan at this point, but we are working toward coming up with some form of progress that can be perceived in the Japan-U.S. consultation, and the MOD is making its best efforts on this as well. Then, with regard to the cost related to the Guam relocation, this is something that will be discussed after the unit organization and the number of personnel and such things have been decided on. Therefore, my understanding is that we have not yet come to the stage to decide on any specific apportionment of expenses. In any case, regarding the apportionment of expenses, this will be discussed from the standpoint of Japan's security agreement and to reduce the burden borne by Okinawa, and we aim to come to a conclusion that our people would be in agreement with, thus we are prepared to engage in this negotiation in earnest. Also, with regard to the repair work on Futenma, it is common knowledge that Futenma Air Station has been in use for fifty years since its construction. I understand the need to take action on its minimal upkeep, such as measures towards aging and safety. Although we will make sure that Futenma Air Station will never become a permanent fixture, I would like to report to everyone that we are prepared to deal with this issue carefully on an individual basis, with consideration to particular needs and details. That is the current situation.

Question:
In relation to what you mentioned just now, what is the situation for the work on compiling an interim report as a document and announcing it before the visit to the U.S. by the Prime Minister?

Minister:
The consultations are ongoing, and with regard to the progress situation, there is nothing that has been decided so far.

Question:
Considering what you said just now, I get the impression that this so-called interim report that you mentioned will consist of only the number of personnel in the unit. Is that the case?

Minister:
There are some items where we are quite close to coming to a conclusion. Also, the situation of consultations varies depending on each item. We would like to conduct the consultations vigorously toward making further progress.

Question:
Do you mean that there are things other than unit organization where it is close to coming to a conclusion?

Minister:
It's still in progress, but I gave it as something that could be reported. The MOD is committed to engage and take actions in earnest on these consultations.

Question:
Foreign Affairs Minister Gemba is scheduled to have a meeting with Secretary of Defense Panetta in Washington D.C. Was there any prior discussion on what will be discussed in this meeting?

Minister:
Of course, we have had a discussion in advance.

Question:
How far was discussed concerning the reorganization of the U.S. forces?

Minister:
On that, we are still coordinating the details, so we will respond according to the situation.

Question:
Can we assume that the visit to the U.S. by the Prime Minister will be conducted during the consecutive holidays in May?

Minister:
That falls outside my range (of authority). That would be something for the Prime Minister's Office to work out.

Question:
Regarding the missile launch by North Korea, it is said that North Korea will retaliate if Japan intercepts it. In the event that it is intercepted, do you have any idea on how to react in the aftermath?

Minister:
That is something that has yet to occur, so I would like to refrain from commenting on hypothetical situations for now.

Question:
Are you considering something on this?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from commenting on hypothetical situations.

Question:
I have a question on interception by the PAC-3. If debris supposedly does fall down, do you think that it can be intercepted with the current technology available for Japan?

Minister:
I received a report from Commander Saito of the Air Defense Command yesterday. They are doing their best to be fully prepared and ready so that nothing unexpected should occur. I have full trust in that they will indeed be fully prepared and ready.

(End)

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