Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Eto(06:22-06:26 P.M. October 20, 2014)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 06:22-06:26 P.M. October 20, 2014
Place: Entrance to the Prime Minister's Office
(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
Today, the governments of Japan and the United States issued a joint statement concerning the bilateral plan to mitigate the impact of military bases on Okinawa. Then, at the meeting held a short while ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe provided an explanation to Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima about the joint statement.
The statement contains four major points. First, the two governments agreed to conclude a supplemental environmental stewardship agreement. Second, the two governments welcomed the progress made in the realignment of the U.S. Forces Japan and the mitigation of the impact on Okinawa since the "2+2" joint statement made last October. Third, the two governments confirmed that the U.S. will continue the efforts to promote the relocation of its training, including the Ospreys, to locations outside of Okinawa. And fourth and lastly, the two governments reconfirmed the plan that the U.S. will return lands south of Kadena Air Base to Japan and the plan that the U.S. will continue the efforts to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa to Guam, which will facilitate the land return.
The Ministry of Defense will strive to meet the request to terminate the operation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within five years by steadily implementing necessary measures in cooperation with the U.S.

2. Questions and Answers

Minister Eto, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yuko Obuchi and Minister of Justice Midori Matsushima resigned today. As a Cabinet member, what is your reaction to this development?

I solemnly respect their decisions to step down. I would like to refrain from making further comments on this matter.

I presume that these resignations were once again triggered by monetary scandals in politics. Could you comment on this issue?

I intend to carefully fulfill my accountability. In the past, when I checked my transaction record and found an error, I immediately corrected it. And I explained my action at a committee meeting and on other occasions. I will continue to provide proper explanations.

Earlier, you mentioned terminating the operation of MCAS Futenma within five years. A press report pointed out that the interpretation of the U.S. side on the five-year period is somewhat different from that of the Japanese side. Could you comment on that?

I am not sure about the exact interpretation of the U.S. side. However, we have repeatedly conveyed our intention to the U.S. side through various meetings and from both me and the senior vice minister this year. And I have been informed that the U.S. side understood our intention. In addition, when I had a telephone conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last month and sincerely asked for the cooperation of the U.S. side in mitigating the impact on Okinawa, he replied that he understood this. We will continue our utmost efforts toward achieving the goal although it concerns the other party.

Even though Ms. Matsushima insisted that she did not break the law, she stepped down from the post of Justice Minister because she did not want to delay the Diet deliberations. Related to that, what are your thoughts on the fact that the progress of Diet deliberation and the committee meeting has been slowed due to the issue you caused?

I am solely to blame for the issue concerned. Although I am doing all I can to disclose all necessary information through proper communications, the questioning parties have not accepted my claim. So, I will try even harder to provide sound and convincing explanations.

Minister Eto, some members of the opposition parties have been requesting you to provide a tax return form from the person who received payment for work as proof that the transaction actually took place. So, are you intending to acquire the tax return form?

After considering the plan of the Diet Affairs Committee, I would like to decide on the proper action to take.


* The following correction was made on October 21 based on the follow-up comment by the defense minister.
In the defense minister's final comment at the extra press conference held in the early evening yesterday (Monday, October 20), the following correction was made to the part of his statement, "After considering the plan of the Diet Affairs Committee," by replacing it with the phrase, "After considering the current situation of the Diet session."