Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(02:04-02:16 P.M. November 6, 2015 (Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 02:04-02:16 P.M. November 6, 2015 (Japan time)
Place: In front of SAKURA, Second Floor of Hotel Nikko Hanoi
(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:
Would you share with us outcome of today’s defense ministerial meeting?

Minister:
It is the first time to have Japan-Vietnam defense ministerial meeting in two years since September 2013. I have met with him for the first time, and we had wide-ranging discussions for further developing defense cooperation and exchanges between the two countries in very friendly and constructive atmosphere. First, we exchanged views on situations in the East China Sea and South China Sea. We confirmed the importance of settling disputes by peaceful means based on general principles of international law such as freedom of navigation and flight over the high seas. We affirmed that all countries concerned should refrain from unilateral attempts to change status quo through the use of coercion. Two of us also agreed to raise “common voice.” I explained Japan’s defense policies including the Legislation for Peace and Security, and Defense Minister Thanh stated that they welcome Japan’s proactive contribution through various efforts for peace, security, cooperation, and development in the region and the world. In addition, he told that he listened to Prime Minister Abe’s speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue last year and made a comment to support Japan’s defense policies. Following that, as for the bilateral cooperation as partners, Vietnam side requested cooperation on demining, PKO, and provision of patrol vessels. Japan responded to cooperate on PKO and maritime security and to implement maritime training contributing HA/DR in particular. The third point is that we will dispatch experts in flight safety and aeronautical medicine as part of capacity building assistance in the field of flight safety. The fourth point is defense equipment cooperation, and I referred personnel exchanges and cooperation between the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency and defense equipment authority in Vietnam. As for the fifth point, we talked to conduct exchanges through the MSDF’s port of call at naval base in Cam Ranh Bay, which is currently under construction. We received an invitation to opening ceremony upon its completion, and they invited MSDF vessels to visit. They told that I am the first person to observe this area in Cam Ranh Bay. With regard to the port of call, we will have concrete coordination responding to today’s meeting, and such port of call itself will be considered from the standpoint of being part of expansive multilateral defense exchanges. We agreed to jointly issue the press release. Responding to agreed content of today’s defense ministerial meeting, I intend to further enhance defense cooperation and relationship-building with Vietnam hereafter.

Question:
You mentioned the port of call at Cam Ranh Bay, which is approximately 460 kilometers away from the Spratly Islands. I understand that there is territorial dispute between China and Vienam as well as the Philippines. With this in mind, how do you think of the significance that the SDF vessels would make a call there?

Minister:
The MSDF have called at ports in Vietnam and been welcomed by Vietnam side. The Vietnamese Government allowed us to visit this area as they construct a port in Cam Ranh Bay, and we received the invitation to the opening ceremony upon its completion. We will proceed with it as part of usual multilateral exchange.

Question:
Do you think the port of call at Cam Ranh Bay leads to expand SDF’s activities in the waters, or in a broad sense waters in South China Sea?

Minister:
We have consideration if we receive requests such as exchanges in relation to multilateral framework across the globe, so I perceive this is a part of that.

Question:
In terms of equipment cooperation, I believe an agreement was reached today. What kinds of field do you specifically have in mind? Does it mean that you will seek ways mainly from high priority fields between Japan and Vietnam; for instance, maritime security?

Minister:
Technical consultations will be taken through administrative officials. Vietnam has the General Department of Defense Industry and General Department of Technology within their Ministry of National Defence. We would like to examine at the working level what kind of cooperation will be possible.

Question:
I have a question on joint training between Japan and Vietnam. How do you want to proceed with it? Would you tell us what kind of talks you had during the meeting?

Minister:
It is what I stated earlier. There have been cooperation between the two countries such as HA/DR, which I mean disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, even in maritime area. As we have had cooperation in those maritime training, I meant training concentrating on the capacity building assistance and HA/DR.

Question:
My question concerns equipment. Vietnam side asked for the provision of patrol vessels. Is it correct that the SDF will keep such matter in mind and deal with it?

Minister:
It will be a yen loan. It concerns the coast guard, so I believe that it is necessary to examine with the Japan Coast Guard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and the like. It will be the yen loan through the Official Development Assistance.

Question:
I have a question on the South China Sea. You expressed the position to support the U.S. actions during the meeting with Vietnam held earlier. Would you tell us how each of you talked on this matter?

Minister:
Regarding this matter, we have shared basic recognition with Vietnam side. The way of thinking of Vietnam side is that the threat of force should not be taken for solving international issues. As Vietnam regarded that matters concerning the South China Sea should be solved by peaceful means and settled by international law such as United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he stated that Vietnam aims at complete implementation of DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) and early conclusion of COC (Code of Conduct in the South China Sea). Also, they said that there has been a talk on just like the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism with China side. In these aspects, two of us agreed that it should be settled by peaceful means.

Question:
In the meeting, did you have any talk on Mr. Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam?

Minister:
He mentioned that Mr. Xi Jinping was visiting Vietnam.

Question:
With regard to this, did you say anything in response?

Minister:
Regarding that point, the theme was defense issues between the two countries. Thus, we just had conversation from the standpoint of bilateral defense cooperation and its recognition.

Question:
As for the matters in the South China Sea, some news reports said that President Xi and General Secretary Trong agreed during the yesterday’s meeting that the matters in the South China Sea would not have impact on bilateral relationship. What is your thought on this meeting itself?

Minister:
As I stated earlier, the way of thinking of Vietnam side as to security is that the threat of force should not be taken in any case. The issues should be solved by peaceful means and by conversations. I felt that Vietnam side has such recognition. Basically, it was the remark by Minister. As for the relationship between Vietnam and China, I would like to refrain from commenting as it concerns other countries.

Question:
I understand that coordination was underway for issuing a joint press release after today’s defense ministerial meeting. Please tell us a reason why it was put off.

Minister:
We had talks on each matter for releasing outcomes of the meeting between administrative authorities. Then, it came up with the joint press release. I understand that it is the first time to jointly make such announcement at the defense ministerial meeting between Japan and Vietnam.

Question:
Do you consider that the Mr. Xi’s visit to Vietnam at this time had impact on why the joint press release was put off?

Minister:
No, I do not think so. It is a matter how to sincerely deem outcomes of the bilateral talk.

Question:
Please allow me to ask another topic. As for the crash of Russian aircraft a few weeks ago, the U.S. President Obama suggested the possibility of terrorism. What is your view on this?

Minister:
I should not comment based on prediction. It is a matter that the Government should comment after thoroughly examining, confirming, and collecting information.

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