Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister(10:13-10:19 A.M. June 25, 2013)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date 10:13-10:19 A.M. June 25, 2013
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense
(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 outline of the Defense of Japan 2013 (Defense white paper) was presented in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s division meeting this morning. In view that various security environments are becoming harsh, what are your thoughts on the significance of the white paper prepared this time and on the approach taken for formulating it?

Minister:
Regarding the content of the white paper, the main focus was on the security environment surrounding Japan in recent years. For example, we described such topics as the repeated missile incidents caused by North Korea and the nuclear tests it conducted that have been posing a threat to various surrounding countries; in addition, we explained such circumstances as the escalating tension between Japan and China over the issue of the Senkaku Islands. Amid the increasing tension between Japan and China, we placed a special emphasis on our stance to resolutely defend these sea areas with a sense of urgency and self-control, in order to prevent contingencies.

Question:
At the LDP’s division meeting this morning, discussions were carried out on countermeasures against acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, in which policies were presented such as that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) engagement there will be extended for another year and that the SDF will introduce one of its destroyers in order to play its part in the shift from the current “escort” counter-piracy strategy to a “zone defense” strategy. Could you comment on the significance of these policies?

Minister:
The counter-piracy operations conducted by the SDF have received high praise from a number of countries. With such efforts being made, piracy cases have greatly decreased recently. Under such circumstances, the SDF has mainly been adopting a type of counter-piracy measure called “escort” in which the SDF accompanies traveling ships. However, due to various demands being made of the SDF, we will assign one destroyer for “escort” operations and another one for “zone defense” operations. The “zone defense” destroyer will be allocated to a group called CTF151. This means that Japan will join the “zone defense” group which is led by countries such as the U.S., Australia and South Korea. In any case, based on these decisions having been made, we are aiming at making a change in our counter-piracy measures conducted off the coast of Somalia by the end of this year.

Question:
I suppose that Japan’s participation in operations run by a multinational force may raise a concern that this action may be considered unconstitutional. What is your view on this?

Minister:
We perceive this decision from the perspective of international cooperation in dealing with acts of piracy, and not in terms of a constitutional issue such as collective security. As such, we don’t view this as an issue contradicting the Constitution.

Question
Regarding the accident involving the Aegis destroyer Atago, a press report indicated that the prosecutor decided not to appeal. Given this situation, are you reconsidering the disciplinary actions given in 2009?

Minister:
Since the deadline for an appeal is at midnight tonight, we will wait and see what will happen until then. In any event, we are thinking of those who died in this incident and their families who have been immensely suffering from the loss. In order to avoid the recurrence of accidents like this one, we will pay attention to implementing every safety measure.

Question:
Regarding reexamination of the disciplinary actions, will you consider this after the conclusion of the judicial procedure?

Minister:
That is the case. At any rate, if no appeal is made, those concerned will be determined innocent. Upon confirming this for real, we will start deliberation on this issue.

(End)

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