Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister Eto(08:36-08:42 A.M. October 28, 2014)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 08:36-08:42 A.M. October 28, 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
At the meeting held today by associated Cabinet members, we confirmed that the Government will take measures in unity in response to the Ebola outbreak. The Ministry of Defense views the current viral epidemic as an issue to be addressed cooperatively by the international community. As most of you perhaps already know, we have already sent a liaison officer to join the United States Africa Command. At present, we have no further plan for mobilizing the Self-Defense Forces to deal with the current situation.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
The liaison officer the SDF sent out was supposed to gather information as of last week. How is that activity progressing in the area the officer was sent to?

Minister:
I was briefed that information gathering has been carried out as planned.

Question:
Could you tell us about the sent officer’s schedule and activities from now on?

Minister:
We have not made that decision yet.

Question:
I have one more question. I believe that a defense ministerial meeting with Finnish representatives is slated for today. I suppose that there hasn’t been such a closeness between Finland and Japan in terms of defense exchange. Could you tell us about the purpose of today’s meeting and the specific topics to be discussed?

Minister:
The defense ministerial meeting will be held early evening today. I am planning to talk about recent development of defense policies in Japan, while the Finnish side is expected to inform us of its relations with NATO. We are also hoping to discuss what kind of defense exchange can be implemented between the two countries in future.

Question:
Minister Mochizuki, Minister Arimura, Minister Miyazawa and yourself are reportedly involved in respective money-and-politics problems. What is your reaction to these events? Also, what are your thoughts on the impact these financial scandals might have on the running of the administration?

Minister:
I am afraid that these events will affect the operation of the Government to a certain extent. However, I hope that these ministers will calmly fulfill their respective obligations while steadily dealing with the issues they are facing.

Question:
What about your own problem?

Minister:
I have already been doing all I can to properly deal with the issue. However, I will make even greater effort to gain the acceptance of those who are questioning me.

Question:
All these money problems are associated with Cabinet members who were newly appointed to the respective minister posts when the Cabinet reshuffling took place, including the already resigned Ms. Obuchi and Ms. Matsushima, as well as Mr. Miyazawa, Mr. Mochizuki and you. I wonder if these ministers were not checking their records in their statements of income and expenses in the first place before being nominated as a minister.

Minister:
I imagine that all of them had been checking their records more or less. I myself had a strong sense of duty to keep my financial records straight. That is why I asked a professional accountant to check my record. After that auditing was carried out, I thought that my record was sound. However, when I checked it again later, I found errors. Then I immediately corrected the errors. I have been giving diligent explanations on these actions I took in the past, but unfortunately, my explanation apparently has not been unanimously accepted yet.

Question:
I have a question concerning the plan to jointly develop submarines between Japan and Australia. The Australian side is reportedly planning to hold an open bid, inviting Swedish, German and French bidders. However, Japan and Australia recently concluded an agreement to jointly develop submarines and the two countries are planning further discussion. Has the Australian side informed the Japanese side about the bidding?

Minister:
I have not been informed of such plan you mentioned. However, at the last meeting, Japan and Australia merely reached a general agreement that the two countries will make mutual cooperation when appropriate. So, the specific form of bilateral cooperation is yet to be determined as the current discussion between the two countries progresses. Therefore, I suppose that there is a chance that some unpredictable things might happen as related to the bilateral cooperation.

Question:
A press report indicated that the U.S. might join Japan and Australia in the joint development. Since Australia has been using U.S.-developed weapons and submarines, this move may not be a surprise at all. But is that true?

Minister:
I have not been informed of such plan either. Since the discussion between Japan and Australia is currently being carried out, please understand that it will take some time before certain decisions are made about the specific form of defense cooperation.

Question:
You stated earlier that the Government is still in the process of deciding Japan’s response to the Ebola epidemic. As a defense minister, do you think that sending out the SDF is necessary?

Minister:
We are considering how much contribution the SDF can make in various situations. We are also concerned about what measures to take if Japanese people are infected by the Ebola virus overseas. We are currently engaging in diligent discussion on such issues.

Question:
The man suspected of being infected with Ebola in Japan turned out to have tested negative for the virus. However, the chance of the virus entering Japan seems to be increasing. Given the situation, are you considering sending out more liaison officers?

Minister:
For now, one officer is being deployed, and we are considering eventually sending out more officers.

Question:
How many more officers?

Minister:
The discussion is still underway.

Question:
If Ebola enters Japan, what kinds of measures do you think the SDF could take?

Minister:
We do not have a definitive answer for that question either. In any case, I think that the whole of the Government has to deal with this issue. The MOD and SDF are willing to take part in the Government’s effort to the best of their abilities.

(End)

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