Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Eto(05:41-05:48 P.M. October 8, 2014)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 05:41-05:48 P.M. October 8, 2014
Place: 1st floor lobby of Building A, 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 interim report on the revision of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation was released today. What are the focuses of the review based on the interim report?

Minister:
Today, the meeting of the Subcommittee for Defense Cooperation (SDC) was held and attended by the director general-level officers of Japan and the U.S. At the meeting, an agreement was reached by the two sides on the content of the interim report on the revision of the Guidelines. This interim report summarized the outcome of discussions thus far and was made public. This publication is vital from the perspective of ensuring the transparency of the revising process and promoting the understanding of the people in Japan and overseas. I myself welcome the fact that the SDC reached an agreement upon the content of the interim report. We as the MOD will continue to diligently revise the guidelines in line with the interim report released today. There are four main points to the interim report: improve bilateral coordination in the framework of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, take seamless measures to ensure Japan's peace and security, contribute to peace and a stable international security environment, and make cooperation in dealing with outer space and cyber space issues.

Question:
You just listed the main points of the interim report, but what will the specific new roles be of the U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces? It seems that the interim report does not mention that aspect in detail. What are your thoughts on that?

Minister:
I was informed that extensive discussion had been carried out on that subject. The interim report is not meant to present all the details, and I believe that specific decisions will be made hereafter.

Question:
On the other hand, preparation of new security legislation is underway, and without that framework, I assume that it would be difficult to specify the new roles of the SDF. So, how do you plan to link these two processes together?

Minister:
I believe that the revision of the guidelines and security legislation process will be conducted in a manner whereby consistency is achieved between the two.

Question:
The final revision of the guidelines is set to be completed before the yearend according to the agreement made at the "2+2" meeting. Do you think that the deadline will be met given the fact that the preparation of security legislation and discussion by the ruling coalition are yet to be carried out?

Minister:
Regarding the schedule for reviewing the guidelines, an agreement was reached between Japan and the U.S. at the last "2+2" meeting. So, we will do our best to fulfill the agreement as much as possible.

Question:
Minister Eto, in Part V of the interim report: Seamlessly ensure Japan's peace and security, it is stated, "There are also cases where swift and robust responses are required to secure the peace and security of Japan even when an armed attack against Japan is not involved." I believe that this is the exact wording in the report. By saying that swift and robust responses may be required even when an armed attack is not aimed at Japan, do you think that the SDC is specifically assuming, for example, gray zone situations involving the Senkaku Islands and other places, or actions by China?

Minister:
While the discussion in this regard is still underway, I believe that the Japanese and U.S. sides mutually agreed at the meeting today that it is vital to take seamless security measures. The two sides also agreed to continue discussion on this subject in the ongoing revising process. In addition, I received a report that the two countries agreed to make consistency between the revised guidelines and the new security legislation in Japan as I said earlier.

Question:
The revised guidelines will not make different categories for peacetime, times of emergency, and the situation in the area surrounding Japan. Instead, there is a list of several types of bilateral cooperation to be made for taking seamless responses. As such, some have expressed their view that it is difficult to understand which kind of bilateral cooperation will be made under what kind of circumstances. What are your thoughts on this comment?

Minister:
I expect that there are various responses to the content of the interim report such as the one you just brought up. The agreement made today is a step toward ensuring a transparent revision process. By making the process public, we are able to clearly present the general plan to seamlessly ensure Japan's peace and security through bilateral cooperation, ensure regional and global peace and security through cooperation, and make collaboration between Japan and the U.S. to deal with outer space and cyberspace issues. I also believe that we specified the framework and the purpose of the revised guidelines in a sufficiently transparent manner. In any case, we are still at the stage of just having released the interim report. We are now ready to work on the details of the guidelines.

Question:
The spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a sort of negative statement against the revision of the guidelines even before the interim report was released. Didn't the Japanese side give an explanation to the Chinese side in this regard beforehand?

Minister:
We are, of course, considerate of our neighboring countries. However, we just finally came to the point today to release the interim report, which only presents a general concept of the new guidelines. We will provide proper information to neighboring countries.

Question:
This interim report covered issues related to the right of collective self-defense only to a limited extent. What is your plan to take shape of this aspect in the final report?

Minister:
Earlier, I talked about seamless responses as a general concept. For details, we need further discussion.

Question:
My impression of the interim report was that the word "global" as in global peace, security and stability frequently appeared as a keyword. Related to that, the U.S. is currently carrying out aerial bombing to deal with the Islamic State. Are you considering addressing in the guidelines the possibility of sending the SDF against the Islamic State, for example, to support the U.S. military action if requested?

Minister:
That question was already answered by the prime minister over and over at the ongoing Diet Budget Committee session. The answer is no. I expect that when and in what form the SDF should be dispatched will be decided under the legal framework we are currently preparing. And Japan will proactively make that decision.

(End)

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