Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister( 06:14-06:21 P.M., April 23, 2012)

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date 06:14-06:21 P.M., April 23, 2012
Place: In front of the Cabinet Meeting Room in the House
(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:
The opposition has mentioned that "it was inappropriate that you made the visit to Okinawa when a censure motion against you has been passed." In addition, there are some within the ruling party who are calling out for your early resignation due to uncertainties in starting the deliberations for the Consumption Tax bills. What do you have to say to these opinions?

Minister:
I made this visit to fulfill my duties as Defense Minister. I have given my thanks to the region where deployment had been made this time by the MOD/SDF. Also, I made an urgent report to Okinawa prefecture regarding the joint declaration plan for the Japan-U.S. consultations that will be announced this week. Due to the aforementioned two points, this is the continuation of ongoing business. Therefore, I made the visit in order to fulfill my business obligations as a (Defense) Minister.

Question:
You said that you gave an explanation on the two points that you just mentioned. Regarding the Japan-U.S. consultations, what sort of measures to relieve the burden of Okinawa have been made, and did you receive the understanding of the Okinawa side? Also, how did you explain the awkward initial reactions toward the missile which occurred due to poor coordination between the Prime Minister's Office and MOD?

Minister:
Concerning the content of the Japan-U.S. consultations, I feel that the reduction of the burden of Okinawa prefecture in ways that can be perceived can be said to be the major achievement in this round of consultations. We have put a lot of effort into this, and have managed to finalize the compilation of specific areas that can be returned at an early date as well as areas that can be returned after the facilities and such have been relocated to other places within the prefecture, and areas that can be returned after the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps has been completed. I talked with the Governor today with an explanation to "build up specific plans in order to get it on track within this year" as part of our efforts to "make advances on the (reduction of) burden of Okinawa in ways that can be perceived, one step at a time." We also have the visit to the U.S. by Prime Minister Noda, which will be conducted very soon. In view of this, regarding the consultations on Henoko, this has also been reported today, since this is something that we have been discussing with Okinawa prefecture.

Question:
How about the poor coordination?

Minister:
Concerning the issue of information communication, this is being verified in the cabinet and the Prime Minister's Office. The MOD will also be conducting verification in relation to this. I have been hearing opinions given from the regions where I visited today, so we are currently in the process of making arrangements to compile this content and to take action in response to this.

Question:
Regarding the issue of applying for land reclamation at Henoko in Nago City, Can you tell us of the timeline the MOD is thinking of for making this application, if it has any for now?

Minister:
I have received opinions on this. The MOD must first consider these opinions carefully. Then, it will conduct the process on the Environmental Impact Assessment in earnest by the experts, as well as by the Ministry itself. We have the aforementioned two processes planned for now. With regard to the timeline, we are making progress on this while eyeing said processes. However, since we need to make careful verification on this, I feel that this will require a certain amount of time.

Question:
Some days ago, there was a crash accident involving the Osprey in Morocco during training by the U.S. forces. There are talks about deploying the Osprey within this year without waiting for investigation into its cause. Can you tell us how the MOD thinks about whether the deployment will ultimately be approved?

Minister:
The MOD has received the grave concerns of Okinawa prefecture. I share the same point of view with regard to the issue on the Osprey, so I have made a request to Ambassador Roos to give a detailed explanation on the safety issue of the Osprey when I had the chance to meet with him the other day, and we are making efforts to receive some kind of response from the U.S. side on this issue. My position is that this issue needs to be tackled along with all the people of Okinawa prefecture.

Question:
Did you request any set deadlines to the U.S. side for a reply? This is for the Osprey accident.

Minister:
We are currently proceeding with the process, so I would like to take this up on a separate occasion.

(End)

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