Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(11:13-11:24 A.M. November 23, 2015 (Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:13-11:24 A.M. November 23, 2015 (Japan time)
Place: Third floor hall, Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki
(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 you visited Hawaii. Can you please tell us the significance of this visit? In addition, you held talks with the Governor, offered flowers at a memorial, among other activities. Can you please elaborate on them?

Minister:
First, today, I conversed with Governor David Ige of Hawaii. This was a courtesy call. The SDF regularly navigates their vessels or flies their aircraft here, makes port calls, and so on. At every such instance, a reception has been held, and Hawaii has very much shown understanding of the significance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and of Japan in the context of future security. In this regard, I expressed my appreciation and gratitude. Subsequently, I visited the memorial for Ehime Maru which sunk in 2001. I saw that in light of the loss of the precious lives of nine people, the local people have put in tremendous efforts to protect this memorial and have passed on this spirit. In addition, I visited Makiki Cemetery, which is deemed to be the oldest cemetery for Japanese-Americans in the State of Hawaii. The cemetery reverently mourns the souls of the so to speak ancestors who came here in 1868 and settled in Hawaii all through the years thereafter. I learned once again the spirit of the roles played by Japanese nationals in this land. Makiki Christian Church was built in 1932 by a person from Kochi Prefecture who was here on a mission-a castle similar to Kochi Castle. I got to see a magnificent church. In this manner, today, here in Hawaii, I was able to understand firsthand the roots of Japan-Hawaii relations. As regards this visit, this April, the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation were newly created. This September, the Legislation for Peace and Security was passed. On November 3, an agreement was reached to establish the Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM) and the Bilateral Planning Mechanism (BPM). Therefore, I intend to meet with the commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to ask them about holding Japan-U.S. consultations going forward to ensure that what was presented in the Guidelines are implemented smoothly so that, using the aforementioned mechanisms, the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the Japan-U.S. cooperation can further function to take responses through close coordination, seamlessly, and for any situation.

Question:
If I may, I would like to ask a question regarding a different matter. Yesterday, the Japan-Australia "2+2" was held. At nearly the same time, the highly anticipated East Asia Summit (EAS) was held in Malaysia. The discussions ultimately ended without reaching any conclusions. During the meeting, Premier Li Keqiang of China stated that countries outside of the region were increasing tensions. The Premier reiterated that actions should not be taken that would lead to tensions in the South China Sea, and warned about the United States' repeated "freedom of navigation" operation. What is your opinion on these views held by China?

Minister:
In reality, despite the fact that at various meetings concerns have been expressed about the reclamations in the South China Sea and the construction of ports and airports, the construction work has not stopped at all and is continuing to proceed. If this persists, the situation will become even more tense. These are critical issues that concern the foundation of the existence of the international community itself, namely, the maintenance of international order based on rules and law. These are issues of not only the direct parties to the dispute, but issues shared by the entire region. No country can take the stance of an outsider. Accordingly, at international meetings and during consultations with a variety of relevant countries, Japan has underscored that actions should be taken in accordance with international law. Japan perceives that the recent operations undertaken by the U.S. Forces in the South China Sea are in line with the efforts of the international community, and Japan supports the actions. At various instances, I have said that the South China Sea should be an open sea as well as peaceful and quiet sea, and called on countries to mutually work together to this end. I have stated that to ensure that the general principles of international law are secured in this region and that the situation between the relevant countries does not escalate, the region needs to make steady collective efforts. Therefore, the freedom of navigation on these international high seas and the freedom of overflight should be secured. No country is an outsider. I believe we need to continue to assert that international rules and the international law are fully secured.

Question:
Meanwhile, if we turn our eyes to the East China Sea, just moments ago, three Chinese Government vessels intruded into Japan's territorial waters. A countermeasures office of the Prime Minister's Office was set up. This took place just moments ago. Indeed, turning our eyes to the East China Sea, which has direct implications for Japan, Chinese Government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japan's territorial waters. Minister, what is your view regarding this?

Minister:
It is the responsibility of the Government to protect Japan's inherent territorial land, waters, and airspace. This is a given. The Senkaku Islands are Japan's inherent territorial land and territorial waters. While closely surveilling the situation, we will take responses if there are violations of this. We are taking actions that are a matter of course for a nation.

Question:
I am sorry to change subjects, but recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines reached an agreement in principle for concluding a defense equipment agreement. What is the MOD's comment on this matter?

Minister:
The agreement for the transfer of defense equipment is an agreement for appropriate control. The agreement obliges Japan's prior consent regarding extra-purpose use of equipment and their transfer to third parties. In addition, the agreement determines the items necessary for the transfer of defense equipment, including information protection. When President Aquino visited Japan in June of this year, during their summit meeting the leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed to commence negotiations on this agreement. Based on the recent agreement in principle, the MOD will continue to conduct reviews towards realizing cooperation on defense equipment and technology with the Philippines. If there is an opportunity, I would also like to visit the Philippines and hold talks with Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin on this matter to ensure that it makes progress.

Question:
Have you decided on the timing of your visit to the Philippines?

Minister:
It has not yet been decided. However, Secretary of National Defense Gazmin has already invited me two or three times to visit the Philippines.

Question:
Does it look like you will be able to visit by the end of the year?

Minister:
As of now, the exact dates have not been decided yet.

Question:
Regarding this topic of equipment, I believe the MOD identified the TC-90 training aircraft of the MSDF as one of the equipment. What kinds of specific equipment have been identified?

Minister:
The MOD is holding consultations on and examining various possibilities as to what cooperation on defense equipment and technology is possible with the Government of the Philippines. However, at this point in time, I cannot talk about the individual specific equipment on which cooperation is possible. We will continue to hold these consultations with the Philippines on technology and equipment.

Question:
I have a related question. It seems that the Philippines has a strong desire to inherit equipment that the SDF are using. Is it all right to understand that this is one of the options?

Minister:
When Secretary Gazmin visited Japan in January of this year, it was decided that working-level consultations would start to explore possible cooperation on defense equipment and technology. We are still holding consultations on and examining what cooperation on defense equipment and technology is possible. Therefore, I cannot talk about them at this point in time.

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