Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister(10:50-11:04 A.M., August 21, 2012)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date 10:50-11:04 A.M., August 21, 2012
Place: 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:
Last week, the analysis evaluation team related to the Osprey received an explanation concerning the accident in Morocco from the U.S. side, and I think you received an explanation on this at the beginning of this week. Can you tell us of its content and how long you think it is going to take the Japan side to conduct the independent analysis, and also when you intend to go to Okinawa and such at this point?

Minister:
With regard to the investigation reports for the accident in Morocco that we received in Washington, D.C., the analysis team returned last Friday, so I gathered everyone yesterday on Monday to receive the report. We are currently conducting the analysis with haste, but it should take just about a week for this, so I feel that it will take until the end of this week at the earliest, but the beginning of next week would be a more reasonable estimate in reaching the stage where we will be able to give an explanation to everyone. After that, I would like to at least go to Okinawa and Yamaguchi within this month if possible to explain this in person, although this may depend on the schedule of the Diet and the various local schedules of the Governors, so I am unable to give a fixed schedule for now since the schedules are currently being coordinated. In short, I would like to make an announcement to everyone and then go and give an explanation within this timeframe, and that is how I am currently coordinating my schedules.

Question:
In connection with what you mentioned just now, does the MOD feel that the content of the explanation that they received from the U.S. is sufficient? Or do they intend to request further information in the future? What do you know about this?

Minister:
We have relayed in advance before the briefing the information that we would like to have, and I feel that this accident investigation result more or less covers that requirement. In addition, we have made repeated queries on details that have not been given in the investigation results that have been made public to the U.S. side, so such things are all being taken into consideration in the independent analysis of the report we received that we are conducting for now. So some may ask, “What are you going to do if there are still things that are missing after all that?” In that case, we have the accident investigation for the U.S. Air Force coming next, so although this may not be totally compatible with the U.S. Marine Corps, we will be dispatching our analysis team to Washington again when the investigation results for the accident in Florida are notified, and we think that we will have the chance to make inquiries on any additional details on said occasion.

Question:
Regarding the recurrence prevention measures that had been requested to the U.S. side, was there anything on the recurrence prevention measures in the report that you received from the team that had returned?

Minister:
I think that report is going to be explained to everyone later on, but this will all depend on whether sufficient instructions to the pilots were included in the basic manual related to operating the Osprey by the U.S. Therefore, if there was insufficient information on this, then we will certainly consider making recommendations for said investigation results report -- such as to include or modify such details in the manual.

Question:
Can we assume that such details were included in the report?

Minister:
I believe that you are all able to obtain the english text through the internet, and in the particular section of this there was a particular sentence that is given in the recommendations. We are currently conducting an independent analysis on its meaning, but the conclusion is as I had mentioned when explaining that recommendation such as, “there were sections in the manual that had been authorized by the U.S. where there were some insufficiencies” or “if there were something that is not considered as being adequate, then additional details should be included for it” or that “modification should be conducted” should be included. We will be working on this issue some time later when we can recall this. Next?

Question:
An assault incident on a woman by a U.S. Marine Corps serviceman occurred in Okinawa. Please tell us your thoughts on this.

Minister:
It is extremely regrettable for such incidents to occur. In considering the feelings of the local communities, I feel that this is an incident that should not be allowed to happen, and I hope that proper investigations on the actual facts for this are conducted and appropriate measures are taken. I have not yet received the reports on the details of the specific processes concerning criminal law, but the fact that such incidents are occurring points to something more than the morale or discipline of the personnel of the units that are stationed here. To conduct an act that is in violation of the law or that inconveniences the people in the stationed area is something that the stationed units should never commit in the first place, and I feel that this is an issue that should be treated seriously in accordance with the law.

Question:
On the television program and such on Sunday morning, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Nagashima and Policy Research Committee Chairman Maehara had commented on the need for legal provisions on territorial patrol operations. What are your thoughts on this?

Minister:
There are no established definitions on international laws regarding territorial patrol operations, but general speaking, it is a complex of both the national defense functions and policing functions. The National Police Agency (NPA) and the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) in which are responsible for maintaining order within our country have the primary responsibility for maintaining order of this type in the territories, and the SDF will make responses through coordination with the JCG or the NPA only in situations where the JCG or the NPA are unable to respond sufficiently, and through issuing orders for maritime policing action and/or public security operation and such. Therefore, the legal provisions had already been implemented beforehand. In addition to that, mutual cooperation, exchange of information and joint training sessions between the SDF and the JCG or the NPA are being conducted. Therefore, we have a situation where the necessary institutions that are required to maintain the order of the nation are in coordination with each other to maintain the best possible posture. I feel that our current legal system has in place the legal provisions that can fully respond to the territorial patrol operations, and as I have mentioned just now, this also requires the institutions to respond in close coordination, and only then will we be able to take the best possible posture. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are currently conducting discussions where the definition is not clearly defined such as “what does ‘territorial patrol operations’ actually mean?” or “what are the laws for this?” to which nobody is coming up with a clearly defined answer. However, the issue of territorial patrol operations is an important function of the state to protect its territories, so I feel that it is actually a good thing in that this is being discussed freely in various ways and places.

(End)

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