Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(02:40-02:49 P.M. November 22, 2015 (Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 02:40-02:49 P.M. November 22, 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:
Today, following the "2+2", a bilateral meeting was also held in the afternoon. Can you tell us what was discussed?

Minister:
Following on from the "2+2", we discussed more concrete security cooperation between Japan and Australia. The themes were, firstly, facilitation agreement, as well as cooperation among military services, staff talks, establishing a framework for routine dialogues and consultations, and cyber and outer space. Talks took place on defense cooperation between Japan and Australia in these individual areas. In addition, with regard to Japan-Australia submarine cooperation, I explained once again to Minister for Defence Marise Payne that the cooperation has tremendous strategic significance for both countries, among other matters. With regard to non-submarine technological cooperation, we agreed to proactively promote joint research on the fluid dynamics of ships and other fields. Regarding the Legislation for Peace and Security, following on from the "2+2", I asked for Australia's cooperation and support, for example, on PKO, in view of the legal revisions which will further expand Japan-Australia cooperative relations. I recalled that Japan-Australia international cooperation began with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), the PKO in Cambodia, in 1992. Australia headed the PKO at the time. Following this, there were also Timor-Leste, refueling support in the Indian Ocean, and Samawah in Iraq. All of these assistance operations of Japan were able to be continued thanks to the cooperation of Australia. Therefore, I expressed appreciation and said I looked forward to our continued cooperation. As for the regional situation, we continued to exchange views on the South China Sea. We agreed that the two countries would speak with a common voice on the importance of the rule of law, of complying with the freedoms of navigation and overflight, and of a peaceful solution that is in accordance with international law. We noted that the two countries would continue to coordinate closely on this matter. These were the points that were covered in our meeting. We discussed details related to strengthening Japan-Australia and Japan-Australia-U.S. defense cooperation. Lastly, I invited Minister Payne to visit Japan.

Question:
I first have a question regarding Japan-Australia submarine cooperation. Minister, during the joint press conference, you stated that in terms of its strategic importance, the submarine cooperation was important from the standpoints of securing the freedom of navigation and promoting Japan-U.S.-Australia collaboration. Were these points also discussed during the bilateral meeting?

Minister:
What I emphasized was that we are both maritime nations and that the freedom of navigation and the freedom of overflight on the high seas are a common good of the world. I said such common rules or customary law are critically important and need to be fully adhered. I underscored that in this respect, the submarine cooperation has strategic importance for Japan, the United States, and Australia respectively.

Question:
What was Minister for Defence Payne's response to this?

Minister:
My impression was that the Minister and I shared the exact same views on such sense of values, concepts, Japan-Australia cooperation, and so on.

Question:
I have one more question. It is in regard to the facilitation agreement. The joint communique states that the two countries would aim to conclude negotiations at the earliest possible opportunity. By when exactly do you aim to conclude the negotiations?

Minister:
With regard to this matter, the Australian Government also earnestly requested consultations and efforts towards concluding negotiations. In December, the Prime Minister of Australia will visit Japan and hold talks with the Prime Minister of Japan. We discussed that working-level consultations would be held by then with a view to achieving progress of some kind. Consultations on this matter will continue to be held.

Question:
Is it correct to understand that the aim is to conclude the agreement when Mr. Malcolm Turnbull is in Japan?

Minister:
We agreed to carry out lively consultations. Whether or not the agreement can be concluded in time depends on the progress of the consultations.

Question:
My question concerns the facilitation agreement. Conversely, I gather that once it is concluded, it will become easier for the SDF and the Australian Defence Force to operate in each other's country. What do you consider as the advantages of concluding this agreement?

Minister:
At the "2+2", we compiled concrete measures for further enhancing our defense cooperation. Japan-Australia cooperation has made dramatic strides, including in operational aspects such as joint exercises. However, the facilitation agreement is vital for encouraging these cooperative relations. The MOD for its part is committed to swiftly concluding negotiations.

Question:
Can you please share with us your general comments or impressions regarding future Japan-Australia relations and Japan-U.S. relations beyond the "2+2", while there were the bilateral meeting and the "2+2"?

Minister:
Compared to the bilateral meeting, the "2+2" is much more broader in scope and practical in the sense of construing security in the context of national foreign policy. In principle, Japan and Australia have made efforts thus far based on our special strategic partnership. As demonstrated by the joint communique that was compiled at the "2+2" and the concrete action items which were put together, the "2+2" was very fruitful. I believe it is extremely significant that the foreign and defense ministers of both countries were able to arrive at the same view, which is that the two countries would further cooperate in the security sector based on this mutual recognition.

Question:
I understand that the two sides confirmed not only Japan-Australia but also Japan-U.S.-Australia cooperation. Is the latter also included?

Minister:
It is not only Japan-U.S.-Australia; there is also India and the Republic of Korea. There was discussion on advancing cooperation among these four countries as well as multilateral cooperation.

Question:
During this visit to Australia, I imagine you have been explaining about Japan's submarine building proposal in Adelaide and also in Sydney during the "2+2" and the bilateral meeting. What is your feeling on the outlook?

Minister:
It will be reviewed from here on, and it is the Government of Australia that will make the decision. As I stated, one of the strengths of Japan is that it will involve strategic cooperation. The other strength is Japan's high capabilities in submarines. There is also maintenance. I appealed these extremely attentive, careful operations and quality management which are unique to Japan.

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