Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Onodera(07:34-07:38 P.M. May 9, 2014(Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 07:34-07:38 P.M. May 9, 2014(Japan time)
Place: Apron area of SDF operation base
(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
Here in Djibouti, the deployed SDF units have been carrying out counter-piracy operations from the sky and on the sea. In addition, there are other SDF units participating in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Juba, South Sudan, which I inspected yesterday. As you know, earnest discussions have been carried out in Japan concerning the right to collective self-defense. After the panel of intellectuals submits a report, further discussions will be held at various levels including the Diet. Although we as the MOD officials have been given detailed reports on the situations in the fields in which the deployed SDF units are engaging in their duties, these visits allowed me to directly observe the on-site situation and hear from SDF personnel in the field in person. So this trip has been productive for me to prepare my presentation to the Diet about the perspective of SDF personnel working on the front line.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
I believe that the National Defense Program Guidelines covers the future policy concerning Djibouti. After the inspection today, what kinds of functions do you think Japan needs to establish in Djibouti?

Minister:
We have already established a solid functional base here. From now on, I hope to strengthen our relations with the Djiboutian government and maintain this base so we can continue to provide support. Based on the policy of proactive contribution to peace, we would like to consider expanding the role of this base in addition to counter-piracy operations.

Question:
What are the specific functions you think are necessary here?

Minister:
For example, the Djiboutian Defense Minister asked us today to send the SDF to Africa for disaster relief operations in the case of an emergency. I believe that we have set up our operation base in a very suitable location to deal with disasters and humanitarian issues in Africa.

Question:
Some people pointed out that this base in Djibouti could be useful if a situation arises in which the SDF needs to transport Japanese nationals staying in this region. What is your view on that?

Minister:
The SDF can now practice the ground transport of Japanese nationals overseas after the Self-Defense Forces Act was revised. We are currently acquiring various equipment such as armored vehicles that will be used to safely transport Japanese nationals. Depending on what roles Japan is requested to play in this region, we will consider the best approach to take.

Question:
Military forces from the United States, France, and Italy have also established their bases here in Djibouti. Do you have any plan to coordinate actions with them?

Minister:
I am scheduled to meet with the commanders of said forces today. Since Japan has friendly relations with these countries, including the U.S., our ally, we intend to strengthen these relations and always take orchestrated actions with them in terms of providing humanitarian and reconstruction support to Africa.

Question:
What is the merit of Japan strengthening good relations with them?

Minister:
We have decided to deploy more defense attach?s in Africa. Thereby, Japan will share information, especially military-related information, with the U.S., France, and Italy that have long relations with Africa. This kind of information is not communicated through normal diplomatic channels as confidentiality is a high priority. Since information sharing as related to terrorism and such can be conducted most effectively between militaries, good relations with these countries are also vital in terms of information gathering.

(End)

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