Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(09:24-09:32 A.M. November 10, 2015)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 09:24-09:32 A.M. November 10, 2015
Place: Press Conference Room, 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:
Yesterday, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism issued correction instruction regarding the relocation to Henoko. Would you share your view on this and future responses?

Minister:
As for the revocation of the land reclamation approval by Governor Takeshi Onaga, it was confirmed at the Cabinet meeting on October 27 that the disposition to revoke the approval is illegal and we would take procedures, including execution by proxy in accordance with the Local Autonomy Act, which will allow us to ultimately seek the judgment of the judiciary. I understand that the procedures have been taken at this point in time in line with laws and ordinances. I would like to refrain from stating prediction about responses to the Governor of Okinawa as to "instruction" given yesterday by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Yesterday. In any cases, the MOD will commence the construction work for the project of constructing replacement facilities of MCAS Futenma. We will also make the utmost effort to make relocation and return of MCAS Futenma as early as possible.

Question:
Would you share prospect of the current work and schedule when sand will be brought in for the construction work?

Minister:
We are currently implementing. As for the future work, we will proceed with it while assessing the weather, the climate, the state of the sea, and the local situation such as the training activities of the U.S. Forces in coordination with relevant agencies and organization. The concrete schedule is not yet ready for disclosure determinately at this point in time. In terms of rough schedule of the construction work, I deem that we will be commencing with the temporary work, such as temporary yard necessary for the bank reinforcement work, and building temporary roads. It means that we will proceed with it while coordinating and assessing various situations for detailed work in the future.

Question:
I have a related question. I believe that former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima set forth the termination of operation at MCAS Futenma within five years as the de facto condition when he approved the land reclamation in Henoko in 2013.Would you share situation of consideration with the U.S. side as to this termination of operation within five years?

Minister:
As for the termination of operation at MCAS Futenma within five years, this was discussed in "Council for Promoting the Alleviation of the Burden of Futenma Air Station," based on the requests from former Governor Nakaima and Mayor of Ginowan Sakima. With regard to this, the transformation of fifteen KC-130 aircraft from Futenma to Iwakuni had been completed in August 2014 based on the policy of doing everything what we can do. Moreover, as for the circumstance for the acceptance of aircraft in times of emergency, it has been determined that ASDF Tsuiki Air Base in Fukuoka and ASDF Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki will accept aircraft. Furthermore, as for the operation of Osprey that will remain in MCAS Futenma until the relocation to Henoko, we are making the utmost effort to steadily proceed with conducting training outside of Okinawa, and it had been decided to conduct regular maintenance of Osprey in GSDF Camp Kisarazu. As for these decisions, we have gained the understandings of the local residents. In any case, as for the termination of operation at MCAS Futenma, my perception is that gaining the cooperation of the local residents is the premise of the termination since it involves them. With regard to the Roadmap, we have received the request from Okinawa. Based on the Government's recognition that gaining the cooperation of the local residents is the premise of making the Roadmap, I believe that we should discuss that matter based on the understanding and cooperation.

Question:
I have been interviewing Japan-U.S. diplomatic source found out that Japan and the United States have not discussed the termination of operation within five years according to the U.S. side. Is the discussion of the termination of operation ongoing?

Minister:
The transformation of fifteen KC-130 aircraft from Futenma to Iwakuni has been completed. As for the function of accepting aircraft during emergencies, it will be completed based on the consultation with the U.S. side. As for the term "within 5 years," I believe the demolition work of MCAS Futenma is the premise of the termination. Thus, I would like to ask Okinawa people for the understanding of the relocation.

Question:
Some reported the foundation of earthenware along the shore of Henoko in Camp Schwab, I believe that the Board of Education of Okinawa Prefecture, the Okinawa Prefecture or the city will request for the examination based on the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in the future. Earlier you stated that you would coordinate the schedule of the transportation of sands for the construction. Is the matter of cultural properties included in the coordination?

Minister:
What I meant was that we will process the construction according to laws and ordinances. In order to acknowledge the site as the land that earthenware is potentially deposited, I understand that the necessary procedures by the Boards of Education of Prefecture and City are required. These procedures are now ongoing. Thus, I believe we have not reached in the stage to comment on the impact to the project based on the prediction. In any case, as for the treatment of buried cultural properties in Camp Schwab, I would like to deal with them properly in line with laws and ordinances.

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