Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(12:18-12:25 P.M. November 21, 2015 (Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 12:18-12:25 P.M. November 21, 2015 (Japan time)
Place: (B1 floor lobby) Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
(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:
You just had lunch with Minister for Defence Payne. Could you tell us what was discussed?

Minister: This was the second time Minister for Defence Payne and I met, including our encounter at the ADMM Plus meeting in Kuala Lumpur. She asked me about my impression of ASC, which I had a tour of during my visit in Adelaide yesterday. I told her that ASC has excellent capabilities. After that I explained to her about the reliability of Japan's submarine technology, and the strategic characteristics, and features, as well as advantages of Japan's future submarines. I asked for her understanding of our efforts. Other than that, we exchanged views on the South China Sea, as the U.S. and Australia held a summit meeting a few days ago. We also talked about remarks made at the ADMM Plus meeting. Then we discussed how to approach the terrorist attack in France. Additionally, we spoke about the Australia's Defence White Paper that is to be announced soon. Additional topics were U.S.-Australia and Japan-Australia relations, and the cooperation among these countries. It was a very relaxed setting. We even talked about our hobbies and art. I believe I was able to build a relationship based on trust with Minister for Defence Payne even on a personal level. Tomorrow we will have a 2+2 meeting as well as a defense ministerial meeting. I look forward to a fruitful result discussing practical matters.

Question:
You mentioned that you brought up Japan's advantages and characteristics in the submarine matter. What did Minister for Defence Payne say about this?

Minister:
She just listened to what I said. There was no particular comment from her.

Question:
Please allow me to change topics. A former defense attach? was supposedly leaking classified information to Russia. I understand that the Metropolitan Police Department will refer the case to the prosecutors soon. To what extent do you know about the facts?

Minister:
I am aware there have been such reports in the media. I would like to refrain from commenting on the case as the investigation is still ongoing, and I would like for them to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. The MOD will provide full cooperation with the investigation.

Question:
If the alleged leakage turned out to be true, that could give rise to a variety of security issues. How do you respond to that?

Minister:
I am speaking in general terms. It is only natural for a person subject to the confidentiality obligation under law to comply with it. We are doing our duties strictly by abiding by that obligation. Regarding the case in question, I would like to refrain from making any comment as the law enforcement authorities are currently investigating it.

Question:
My question has to do with the "2+2" meeting. Some press reports said this morning that Japan and Australia are expected to agree to jointly support island nations. Can you confirm this?

Minister:
The "2+2" meeting is scheduled to take place tomorrow and it is where an agreement, if any, is expected to come. So, I am not aware that the reported agreement has already been worked out. However, we are going to have consultations on a variety of fields and both Japan and Australia are maritime countries. Regarding the South China Sea as well, we share common important concerns about free navigation, the freedom of navigation and the security of sea lanes. We have already agreed that it is of importance to protect open, free, and peaceful waters and for the international community to work together to that end. Japan and Australia also have close security relationships with the United States. Thus, I believe there is no problem with the direction of more proactively addressing trilateral joint exercises among Japan, Australia and the United States, capacity building assistance, and consultations.

Question:
In Darwin, in northern Australia, a port has been leased out to a Chinese private-sector company. Do you have any comment on that?

Minister:
It is the matter to be handled by the Australian Government. Japan, for its part, is not particularly interested in the matter and Japan has no intention of intervening in any way.

Question:
Concerns have been voiced within Australia over such matters as the freedom of navigation and China's advances into the ocean. The U.S. Marine Corps units are stationed in Darwin. Do you have anything to say about that from Japan's perspective?

Minister:
Since I am not aware of the reported matter itself, I do not have any appropriate comment to make. However, there could be various purposes involved, such as economic or commercial purposes, and bilateral discussions or agreements for such purposes are free to be made. Thus, I have nothing particular to comment.

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