Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(06:35-06:45 P.M. November 4, 2015(Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 06:35-06:45 P.M. November 4, 2015(Japan time)
Place: In front of the first floor of Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur BLOCK 3
(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:
Can you share us the detail of the conference?

Minister:
After the ADMM's plenary session, I had bilateral meetings with Australian, Malaysian, and Chinese counterparts. First of all, I had a telephone conference with Australia's Minister for Defence Payne last Friday. And this time, I had a bilateral talk with her directly. In the meeting, based on our special strategic partnership, we confirmed that we would further deepen the defense cooperation between the two countries, and that the cooperation between Japan, the United States, and Australia is vital for peace and stability of the region. Needless to say, we agreed that Japan-Australia relation is also crucial. Moreover, we agreed to welcome the development of the cooperation in various fields, and based on this, to further strengthen the cooperation in the areas of joint training, defense equipment and technology cooperation. Secondly, I had a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishammuddin, which was the second time to talk with him this year. I expressed my gratitude for his efforts as the chairperson of this session, and asked him to visit Japan as a token of honor to him for inviting me to the session. I expressed my will to seek possibilities to cooperate in various fields such as disaster relief and maritime security. Moreover, I expressed my view to support ASEAN countries to work together to deal with various issues such as the situation in the South China Sea. Furthermore, based on these cooperation, I expressed my expectation to deepen defense cooperation and human exchanges between Japan and Malaysia. As for the defense ministerial meeting between Japan and China, it was the first time in four years since we had talks at Shangri-La Dialogue in June, 2011. This was the first time for me to have a bilateral meeting with China's Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan. In the meeting, I stated that it is significant that leaders of both countries have affirmed to improve Japan-China relation at the summit meeting which was held in Seoul recently. With this in mind, I expressed my will to create a good environment for the development of Japan-China relation by promoting cooperation between the two countries' defense authorities. In addition, we had candid opinion exchanges on various issues between the two countries. Moreover, we have affirmed that it is vital to develop defense exchanges such as the early implementation of the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism between Japan-China defense authorities for the sake of strengthening mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. Through this session, I believe we had productive opinion exchanges among the defense counterparts of the United States, China, Russia, and ASEAN countries by listening carefully to my counterparts and expressing my views to them. I would like to further develop defense exchanges and cooperation with each country on the basis of the trusting relationship between the defense ministers that was created during this session.

Question:
I have a question on the talk with China's Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan. The issue of the South China Sea was one of the big issues in this ADMM-Plus (the enlarged ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting). You have also mentioned the South China Sea. What is your view on this?

Minister:
My view has already been expressed in the conference. I would like to refrain from responding on the details of my view as our counterparts have their respective positions and China is also involved.

Question:
Did China side pose the issue of the maritime expansion?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from responding to your question as China side is involved.

Question:
I have one more question that is irrelevant from the content of the meeting. Could you share your view as to holding the defense ministerial meeting with China for the first time in four years?

Minister:
When I was Director General of the Defense Agency 13 years ago, defense exchanges and cooperation and so forth between Japan and China was much more active. It is necessary to have defense exchanges and cooperation for stability of the Asian region and to deepen mutual understandings. Thus, I proposed them. As the China side expressed the same view, I would like to make an effort to develop bilateral relationship.

Question:
Apart from the detail of the conference, is my understanding correct that you have explained Japanese standpoint of the South China Sea?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from responding to your question as China side is involved.

Question:
You stated earlier that your view had already been expressed in the conference. Does that mean that you explained your view on freedom of navigation and concern over the attempt to change status quo you have mentioned in your speech to China side?

Minister:
I have explained my view on the status quo in the formal conference.

Question:
Was there any detailed talk today as to the commencement of the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism or when to resume consultations at working-level?

Minister:
I believe the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism is the mechanism for the risk management and the system that prevents situation from being aggravated. China side also has the same view. Thus, from now on, we would commence consultations at working-level. We confirmed to commence the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism as early as possible.

Question:
You said you had exchanged opinions on various topics with China side. Did you discuss the issue on the East China Sea as well?

Minister:
With regard to this, I would like to refrain from responding on the details of the talk as our counterpart is involved.

Question:
Is my understanding correct that you have explained Japan's standpoint of the East China Sea?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from responding on the details of the talk.

Question:
I have one more question. Did you explain the security-related legislation?

Minister:
Since I am the person in charge of this legislation, I explained the meaning and the way of thinking of the Legislation for Peace and Security.

Question:
What did you discuss with Australia side as to the submarine?

Minister:
In the conference, I had extensive opinion exchanges with Australia side on the cooperation of submarine between Japan and Australia. Although I refrain from commenting on the details as our counterpart is involved, the selection of Australia's future submarine has been proceeding in line with competitive assessment process. I explained to Australia side that Japan is examining seriously so that Japan can deal with the three options: construction in Japan; construction in Australia; construction in both countries.

Question:
Concerning Australia, what did you mention as to the issue of the South China Sea in the meeting with Australia, and how did your counterpart respond?

Minister:
Since Australia side already explained their view and standpoint during the formal session, we did not go into depth with regard to those points. However, as to the details of the talk, I would like to refrain from responding on them as the counterpart is involved.

Question:
Have you decided as to the timing of the next meeting with Mr. Chang Wanquan?

Minister:
That is also the specific point of the talk. Thus, I would like to refrain from commenting on it as well.

Question:
I have a question concerning the defense cooperation between Japan and China. You said Japan and China have reached an agreement on the significance of the defense exchanges. Is there something specific in mind?

Minister:
We had consultations at Defense Councilor level or other opinion exchanges and interaction between the two countries' defense authorities in the past. Such kind of defense exchanges is in my mind.

Question:
I have a question concerning the overall session. Countries put off a joint declaration and instead formed the Chairman's Statement. The term "freedom of navigation" would not be included in the statement. What is your impression on this?

Minister:
This was the decision made by Malaysian Minister of Defence who was the chair of this session to organize opinions. Malaysia decided not to release a joint declaration since there were various opinions in the session. We expressed Japan's standpoint, and each country conducted opinion exchanges in the formal session. Thus, although it is regretful that a joint declaration has not been released, I would like to pay respect to Malaysia's determination in any case.

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