Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister(09:22-09:35 A.M., August 31, 2012)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date 09:22-09:35 A.M., August 31, 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

As you may already know, the SDF is currently conducting it's the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan or UNMISS as it is known. I would now like to explain on the commencement of cooperation between Japan and Australia on said activity. Both Japan and Australia have pledged to strengthen their cooperation through UN peace keeping activities -- such as with the “Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation” that was signed in 2007. The MOD/SDF had cooperated with the Australian Forces on various occasions such as the humanitarian reconstruction assistance activities in Iraq and the UN peace keeping activities, and now we have been receiving successive proposals from the Australian side for cooperation between Japan and Australia in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan or UNMISS in which both countries are currently involved in. We have been conducting numerous consultations between the defense authorities of Japan and Australia on fields where cooperation is possible, based on the needs of the units on the site, and as a result the Australian Department of Defence has decided to dispatch two additional members from the Australian Forces to Juba to cooperate with the SDF local support coordination center. The additional members from the Australian Forces will commence their duties from August 31 today -- in local time -- at the same place as the local support coordination center, and will start cooperation between Japan and Australia in fields such as communication work for communication coordination support with related institutions including the UN. The MOD/SDF also feels that cooperation between the SDF and the Australian Forces will contribute towards the nation building of the Republic of South Sudan that the UN is working on, and that this will ultimately work towards developing defense cooperation between Japan and Australia, which is the reason for coming to said agreement between Japan and Australia. Regarding the details, the division in charge will explain the details after this press conference, so I would be grateful if you could listen to this then.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
I think it was in the early hours of today, but I think an explanation on the accident in Florida had been given by the U.S. side. Can you tell us of its outline and of your own thoughts to this?

Minister:
Yesterday, on August 30 in the afternoon at Washington, D.C. time, our analysis team received the briefing on the accident investigation report compiled by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for the accident in Florida involving the CV-22. They will be returning at the end of this week, and I would like to explain to everyone after receiving their report on Monday. For now, I have only heard the conclusion part through telephone, so I am not too sure about the details, but this accident occurred when the CV-22 of the USAF were conducting training at the training area in Florida in a dual aircraft formation, and when the two aircraft were flying in tandem and were turning -- and I haven’t heard to which side they were turning -- the aircraft in the posterior was caught up in the air turbulence caused by the aircraft flying in the anterior to lose control and crash. The conclusion seems to indicate that the accident was caused through human causes. A section of this has already been announced by the U.S. side, but the delegation has not yet returned, so I would like to repeat that I would like to give an explanation to everyone on what I can after receiving the report on Monday. Therefore, I would like to comment on the details next week.

Question:
The conclusion seems to be that it was again due to human error. Can you briefly describe your thoughts on this.

Minister:
Regarding the accident in Morocco and for this accident in Florida, if both and the latter accidents were caused by human error, then I feel that the issue of how and what measures with regards to human factors are going to be needed to maintain and ensure flight safety is going to become an important topic for the coordination that is going to be conducted through the bilateral security committee in the future.

Question:
Regarding the previous report for Morocco, there have been opinions given from the local communities and from within the Diet that the results were very insufficient, or that it contains many things of questionable nature. How did you receive these opinions and how do you intend to make changes based on this to the overall team report, including the one for Florida that is going to come out for this time?

Minister:
As I have mentioned just now, I have not yet received explanation on the details on what kind of explanation was given there. Therefore, I would like to hear in detail of what was briefed when they have returned and then consider how I should best explain this so everyone will come to understand it.

Question:
Regarding the conclusion section of the accident in Florida that was mentioned just now, can we assume that there were no problems or failures with the structure of the airframe that is inherent to the Osprey?

Minister:
Frankly speaking, I haven’t heard the details on that yet. I had only heard the conclusions through telephone for now. The only explanations given by the USAF that I am aware of was that human factors played a major role in the cause of this accident, so I have yet to be given an explanation about the details on what kind of problems were present with the airframe.

Question:
Regarding the test ride that you mentioned back at the local areas yesterday, there have been some interest from the general public on this. Do you have any plans to allow the general public who volunteers through applications to ride on the Osprey?

Minister:
The wording may not be appropriate, but this test ride is something that the Japan side is requesting to the U.S. side. The Japan side has only indicated its desire to conduct this to the U.S side for now, and we have yet to flesh out the details on this including things such as how and in what style this is going to be conducted. If the U.S. side gives us a formal reply on how far they are willing to take this up, we would like to start drawing up our plan for this.

Question:
Concerning the relationship with Sudan, you mentioned that a “2+2” meeting is being coordinated for defense cooperation between Japan and Australia. What do you foresee on this?

Minister:
We are currently coordinating our schedules. Since the Australian side needs to form the “2” it will depend on the schedules for which both the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence on the Australian side are able to make available. If that schedule fits in with our own schedules, then coordination becomes possible. However, as you may know, we also have our own schedules -- such as the DPJ party presidential elections -- and our Minister for Foreign Affairs is a party member. Therefore, we are currently coordinating our schedules with the schedules of the Australian side. We are also currently sending our message to them through our embassy so that a specific date can be decided as soon as possible.

Question:
Regarding your remark on Florida, you mentioned that you have no idea on whether there were any problems with the airframe since haven’t heard the details on this yet. Is it possible under normal circumstances for an aircraft or helicopter that is flying in tandem to cause an accident by getting caught up in the airflow generated from the anterior aircraft?

Minister:
I have not yet received a detailed explanation of the USAF manual, but I would assume the aircraft was obviously powered by an engine, and in this case the aircraft was most likely flying in fixed wing mode. In any case, the airflow generated by the engine thrust came out from the rear side, and this had caused a disturbance or turbulence in the airflow. It is the same with all aircrafts that you don’t put the airframe inside these air turbulence. So, with regard to what kind of positioning they were in when circling, I won’t be able to know this until I have received a briefing on its details, but I think it is common knowledge in any country with regards to rules in placing the airframe inside the air flow generated from the anterior aircraft. When seen from the perspectives of aerodynamics, it is something that should have been avoided. Then again, I don’t know what kind of distance there were between them, so I won’t be able to make a proper judgment until I have been given a detailed briefing for this.

(End)

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