Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Onodera(08:52-09:02 A.M. May 30, 2014)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 08:52-09:02 A.M. May 30, 2014
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
None.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
The Shangri-La Dialogue will begin today. You are reportedly planning to give a speech at the plenary session and hold meetings with several countries. What are the goals and results you are hoping to achieve during this event?

Minister:
I will participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue from today and give a speech during a session titled, "Advancing military-to-military cooperation." In addition, I will take part in trilateral defense ministers' meetings among Japan, the United States, and Australia and among Japan, the U.S., and South Korea. Furthermore, I will hold bilateral talks with defense ministers from nine countries such as the U.S., Australia, Singapore and Vietnam. In my speech, I plan to talk about the importance of military cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region in dealing with frequently occurring disasters and accidents based on my own experience of visiting the Self-Defense Forces engaging in peace cooperation operations overseas, and initiatives Japan is taking to further bolster the SDF's contribution to such international missions. The Shangri-La Dialogue is a rare opportunity for defense ministers from many countries to gather. Therefore, I intend to clearly convey the underlying concept behind Japan's defense policies there.

Question:
At the Japan-U.S.-South Korea trilateral defense ministers' meeting to be held during the Shangri-La Dialogue, I expect that the talk will focus on strengthening information sharing among these countries. I know that you have been advocating concluding the GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) with South Korea. So what is your approach to this issue at the meeting and what kind of results are you hoping to produce?

Minister:
In order for Japan to further strengthen its defense posture given the current security situation in East Asia including the issue concerning North Korea's nuclear missiles, I believe that it is absolutely vital for Japan, the U.S. and South Korea to work in coordination. At the trilateral meeting, I hope that the three countries will carry out a broad discussion on specific types of cooperation to be implemented.

Question:
The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense allegedly claimed in a press conference yesterday that an SDF aircraft flew within 10 m or so of a Chinese military aircraft last November. Could you confirm the facts on that?

Minister:
It is an entirely false allegation that an SDF aircraft made such an extremely close flight toward a Chinese aircraft as covered in the press report. I believe that China's accusation is utterly unreasonable. China unilaterally declared its air defense identification zone on November 23, and this is the date on which China claims that this incident took place. We confirmed that a Chinese information-gathering aircraft in fact made a flight on that day and we have made that information public. However, China's claim is untrue as we always make sure to take strict safety measures. So I don't believe China's statement at all.

Question:
I would like to ask this question to you as a Cabinet member rather than the Defense Minister. The central government made an announcement yesterday that North Korea would resume investigation on the abduction victims. Could you tell us your reaction to this development?

Minister:
I view this as a very significant step forward for the abduction victims, their families, and North Korea-Japan relations. It is of utmost importance that this issue be resolved as soon as possible. However, from the standpoint of the defense authorities, we are dealing with issues concerning North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons in addition to the abduction issue. In particular, it is critical for Japan, the U.S. and South Korea to work together to deal with issues pertaining to North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles. At the upcoming trilateral defense ministers' meeting, I expect that questions will be directed to me as to how Japan is dealing with the abduction case, so I plan to provide updates on that. While the progress made with the abduction issue is surely encouraging, as for the remaining issues concerning North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles, it is vital for the three countries to further bolster our coordination. This upcoming meeting is an ideal opportunity for this purpose.

Question:
The Japanese side indicated partially lifting the sanctions imposed on North Korea over the abduction issue. Are you not concerned that such action may disrupt the trilateral coordination?

Minister:
As the defense authorities of Japan, the U.S. and South Korea have been frequently discussing and dealing with North Korea's nuclear and missile issues, it is vital for these three countries to reconfirm our strong ties at the upcoming defense ministers' meeting and make sure that Japan's policy concerning the abduction issue will not undermine the trilateral coordination.

Question:
I expect that Chinese officials will also, of course, attend the Shangri-La Dialogue. Although an official meeting has not been set between Japan and China, I suppose that you might have a chance to informally talk with Chinese officials. If such an opportunity arises, what would you like to talk with them about?

Minister:
At present, it appears that the Chinese Minister of National Defense, whose post is equivalent to mine, is not planning to attend the forum. If that is the case, I will not see my Chinese counterpart there. In any case, I expect that I will meet with Chinese representatives at various meetings. So every time I have the chance, I will approach them in an attempt to resume negotiations as soon as possible to develop a maritime communication mechanism as a mean to avoid contingencies, which we have been requesting to them for some time.

Question:
The ruling coalition is currently carrying out a discussion on the review of Japan's security system including the issue of whether to approve the right to exercise collective self-defense. In that discussion, some members of the New Komeito raised criticism that the case scenarios used for the sake of discussion are not realistic. It seems to me that the central government is having a difficult time gaining the approval of the ruling coalition for the defense policies that are meant to prepare for every conceivable situation to which the right is applicable. What is your approach to convincing those lawmakers who are not accepting the policies?

Minister:
As we did in the Diet session yesterday, we will continue to provide thorough and sincere answers and explanations to the questions asked by Diet members. Only through this process will we be able to gain the understanding of more lawmakers.

Question:
A press report indicated that you have visited the facility of Pasona Group Inc. Could you elaborate on that?

Minister:
I visited Pasona's guest house, which I believe is called Jinpukan, several times with many other people when I was invited for dinner meetings. I believe that the first time I went there was when I was Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and attended a ceremony to recognize the work Mr. Nambu contributed in the area of public diplomacy. Since then, I remember attending several receptions, so to speak, held there with ambassadors from various countries. At those meetings, there were so many people attending that I do not remember specific individuals who were there. So I have no acquaintance with the woman, the suspect, indicated in the press report. In addition, she probably did not even attend those meetings anyway. The misleading press report has surprised me.

(End)

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