Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Onodera(11:20-11:24 P.M. May 9, 2014(Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:20-11:24 P.M. May 9, 2014(Japan time)
Place: 10th quay in the Djibouti Port
(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
Counter-piracy operations have been carried out for the last five years during which the number of piracy incidents has steadily decreased. I believe that Japan's contribution to this achievement is immense. We are considering Japan's continued participation in this operation toward the future to meet the demands of the international community. The commanders of the United States force and the French force with whom I had a meeting today also highly praised the efforts made by Japan's MSDF. We will continue our efforts in maintaining peace in the sea in cooperation with other countries.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
You inspected SDF units yesterday that are engaging in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in South Sudan, and then inspected other SDF units today participating in counter-piracy operations in Djibouti. Could you tell us your impression of these SDF units engaging overseas on the front line?

Minister:
I realized that each group is dealing with a unique set of challenges. Here in Djibouti, the SDF is working in extreme conditions as hot as 50℃ or higher. And in South Sudan, the security situation is still unstable. I felt very proud of both groups because they appeared to be very disciplined, with high morale, and are contributing to peace as representatives of Japan.

Question:
I suppose that you probably noticed on many occasions that SDF personnel are taking measures to protect themselves from danger both in South Sudan and Djibouti. How would you like to convey the real field issues you observed in these places to the Diet so that these issues will be properly considered in discussions concerning the right to collective self-defense, which you spoke of earlier?

Minister:
Our utmost concern is to secure an environment in which SDF units in the field can fulfill their missions overseas. So we would like to make sure that this concern is properly addressed in the current discussion being carried out by the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security and future discussions held in a Diet session. The fact is that only SDF personnel who are actually working in adverse field conditions overseas and their commanders know the real on-site situations. Although I have been given frequent updates on the situations in the fields in which the deployed SDF units are engaging in their duties, during this visit, I was able to directly observe a real field situation and hear from commanders in person. I will try to do my best to explain to the Diet the first-hand information I gained during this trip so it will be considered seriously in upcoming debates concerning the right to collective self-defense.

Question:
Could you tell us what specific points you are planning to make in your explanation?

Minister:
The SDF units working in the field must assume various unforeseen situations. Therefore, I hope that the Diet will come up with a policy that facilitates the SDF units in the field to make the best possible decisions.

Question:
Are you implying that the SDF engaging in PKO should be allowed to use arms to rescue PKO forces from other countries under attack?

Minister:
I expect that such specifics will be discussed in an upcoming Diet session based on a report to be prepared by the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security. However, it is also necessary to pay serious consideration to the experience and views of commanders working in the field to make policies that are practical in the real field situations.

Question:
Could you tell us if you reached an agreement in any regard during the meeting with the commanders of the U.S. force and the French force?

Minister:
We agreed that Djibouti is a place of great importance in terms of both counter-piracy operations and bringing about stability in Africa. I believe that the presence of Japan here, along with the U.S., Japan's ally, France, which Japan presently has very close relations with, and Italy, is sending a positive message to other countries that Japan is proactively contributing to peace in this region.

(End)

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