Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(17:00-17:11 P.M. November 17, 2015)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 17:00-17:11 P.M. November 17, 2015
Place: The Conference Room at the Second Floor of the Main Building, ASDF Ohtakineyama Sub Base
(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:
What is the purpose and significance of this inspection? Why did you inspect the air base at this timing?

Minister
I came here to encourage SDF personnel. Although there are many other units in Japan, I have heard that there is a base where climate and living environment are extremely severe, and that in such severe condition personnel of the base is steadily and persistently performing their tasks. That is why I visited here. The 27th Aircraft Control and Warning Group is conducting surveillance activity day and night, all year round. There is no supermarket or convenience store near the base. Moreover, it is located high above and the climate is severe. Nevertheless, the personnel are conducting their mission earnestly and enthusiastically, and the group is well organized. With these in mind, I expressed my gratitude to the personnel for their high-level performance of their tasks, their roles, and their high motivation. I have another purpose of the inspection. On the occasion of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the personnel devoted themselves to life support to the afflicted people and reconstruction effort while conducting their routine surveillance activity. They showed me the letter of appreciation that was awarded from the governor. I convinced that they played a very important role for local people, which impressed me greatly. As for the timing, since the Diet is now in recess in session, I would like to inspect units in Japan in order to grasp the current situation taking the passage of Legislation for Peace and Security in the Diet. For these reasons, I paid a visit to the base.

Question:
I have a related question. The G20 Summit was closed yesterday. During the session, Prime Minister Abe mentioned the enforcement of aviation security with Russian plane crash in Egypt in mind. With this in mind, can you share your view on the significance of the radar site?

Minister:
As we conduct surveillance activity of aircraft by using the radar site, we are conducting identification of aircraft that fly over Japan on a daily basis. There are various forms of terrorism such as a hijacking, which reminds me of 9.11. Since these kinds of forms and activities may link to terrorism, I believe the role of this base is extremely significant in that it discovers the situation and deals with it promptly.

Question:
I have a related question. I believe there was a talk at National Security Council today. Did you discuss the terrorism in the council?

Minister:
I think the Chief Cabinet Secretary held a press conference. What we discussed there was that with Paris terror attacks in mind, we would gather and analyze such information, and that the Government will collect and analyze a variety of information in order to make sure the security measures and the prevention of terrorism.

Question:
Please allow me to change topic. I would like to ask about the relocation of MCAS Futenma. Okinawa Prefecture is trying to file a lawsuit against the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's decision on nullification of the revocation of the land reclamation approval. Could you share with us your thoughts on this as the MOD and the Minister of Defense?

Minister:
The revocation of the land reclamation approval by Governor Takeshi Onaga is illegal. It was confirmed at the Cabinet meeting the other day that we would take procedures of execution by proxy, which will allow us to ultimately seek the judgment of the judiciary, based on the Local Autonomy Act. The lawsuit was filed as part of these procedures that are in accordance with the provisions of laws and ordinances, which was done in response to the Governor's refusal of the recommendations and instructions of the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The judicial procedures will be taken going forward. On the other hand, regarding the MOD's work, we initially resumed the boring work on November 12 and have implemented the work at four sites out of remained five sites till today in order to make the relocation of MCAS Futenma possible as early as possible. We would like to proceed with the work at an early date. In addition, we are currently working on constructing temporary yard necessary for the bank reinforcement work. We will swiftly proceed with the construction work by moving ahead with the work such as construction of temporary roads. The MOD has proceeded with the project while holding sincere consultations with Okinawa Prefecture with ample time in accordance with relevant laws and ordinances, including the Act on Reclamation of Publicly-owned Water Surface and the Environmental Impact Assessment Act. I understand that former Governor of Okinawa Prefecture Hirokazu Nakaima made a decision and approved the land reclamation by taking these exchanges into consideration. I deem that there are no flaws on this land reclamation approval and it is lawful. In any case, the MOD will make the utmost efforts towards the relocation and return of MCAS Futenma as early as possible by commencing the construction work of project on replacement facilities of MCAS Futenma.

Question:
In terms of the bank reinforcement work, when will it be specifically commenced? Although it is temporary yard, when is it scheduled to carry out the work of actually putting something on the ocean?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from commenting on future work schedule and its progress because it could be hindrance to appropriate operation of this project; for instance, it would be unsafe to implement the work if unveiling them. We would like to proceed with this project in coordination with the relevant agencies, based on the weather and ocean situation and the local situation, including the exercises of the U.S. Forces, while taking every possible safety measures.

Question:
Okinawa Prefecture stated that the relocation work should be once suspended during the legal dispute. Even so, why do you intend to proceed with it?

Minister:
It is because the current situation of MCAS Futenma is extremely dangerous as it has been pointed out and local residents are concerned with it. There are various circumstances behind this, and the Government received the approval by taking procedures step by step in accordance with laws while sincerely having consultations with administration of Okinawa Prefecture at that time. There is no administrative flaw. It is legitimate action and there is no defect. We consider that the revocation of the land reclamation approval is illegal. Thus, we believe that we should realize the relocation of MCAS Futenma as soon as possible in order to achieve initial objectives.

Question:
I would like make sure. If Okinawa Prefecture files a lawsuit over the revocation of the decision for rescinding the effectiveness, do you think that there will be no impact on the project?

Minister:
This is what Okinawa Prefecture or Governor Onaga considers. It is not what the Government or we make comments in particular.

Question:
In case of the lawsuit, do you have any intention to take part in it, such as oral proceedings?

Minister:
It will be dealt with in line with respective judicial procedures. We would like to appropriately handle it in the circumstance as it concerns the future.

Question:
My question concerns the Great East Japan Earthquake. Even now, the local people say that the SDF truly and largely contributed to its restoration right after the quake and at the initial stage of reconstruction. At this point in time, Fukushima is lagging behind in the reconstruction itself. Do the MOD and SDF have any intention to cooperation in any fields in the future?

Minister:
The Reconstruction Agency and other ministries and agencies are making great efforts in the reconstruction. When we receive a request of interagency cooperation, the MOD would like to respond to it in the fields where we can cooperate. In any case, I believe we should prepare for the emergencies on a daily basis so that we can utilize the SDF's organizational strength whenever it is required for the emergencies, restoration, and reconstruction. In addition, I believe we need to check what equipment is required regularly.

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