Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(02:40-02:49 P.M. November 24, 2015 (Japan time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 02:40-02:49 P.M. November 24, 2015 (Japan time)
Place: Pearl Harbor Port House
(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:

May I ask what the outcomes of today's meetings were?

Minister:
First, I received a very careful and detailed explanation regarding the causes of the Osprey accident from Deputy Commander C. J. Mahoney of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. I also received a written explanation, and it is as I said to you this morning. Afterwards, I visited the joint operations center of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), and from Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery I received an overall explanation on the work that the Center is doing. Subsequently, I exchanged views with Commanding General Vincent K. Brooks of the U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC). We primarily discussed how USARPAC and the GSDF could collaborate. In particular, as the Ground Central Command will be established, we discussed what kind of cooperative relations would be forged. We discussed that we looked forward to building close and effective relations. We also had lunch together. Our views concurred especially on deepening cooperation among Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea as well as Japan, the United States, and Australia. In the afternoon, I first visited the air operations center of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). From Major General Mark C. Dillon, Vice Commander of PACAF, I received an explanation on the C2BMC missile defense system of the U.S. Forces. Following this, I saw the Sea-Based X-Band Radar at the site. I then visited the Aegis vessel USS Port Royal and received an explanation on Aegis Ashore, which is a land-based Aegis system. Lastly, I visited the USS Arizona Memorial. I boarded a barge with Commander Scott Swift of the United States Pacific Fleet, and we conversed aboard the vessel. These were my major activities today. My personal view is that, first, collaboration with the United States is critically important for responding to ballistic missiles and other systems, and the two countries will cooperate closely in the policy, equipment, and operation domains. Today's visit reinforced for me the importance of Japan-U.S. cooperation. In light of North Korea's improving ballistic missile capability, it is set forth in the National Defense Program Guidelines that Japan will enhance the readiness, simultaneous engagement capability, and sustainable response capability of the ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. From this standpoint, I perceive that the introduction of new assets, such as Aegis Ashore and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), could constitute one of the concrete measures for strengthening our capability. To protect the people of Japan, we will be speeding up our examination of the future mechanisms of Japan's BMD system, while studying the advanced initiatives and equipment of the United States. In addition, I would like to mention one more item. It is about defense against airborne threats. What I mean by that is that for aerial threats, such as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft, the U.S. Navy has an advanced concept called Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA), which enables effective anti-air warfare even against targets over the horizon, newly made possible by the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and the network. This concept was also explained to me. Based on the increasing severity of the security situation surrounding Japan, including the threats of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, Japan and the United States will make collaborative efforts in regard to April's revised Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and measures for integrated BMD. Taking into consideration how the United States is dealing with the situation which was explained to me through this visit, Japan will continue to examine Japan's future effective and efficient posture.

Question:
In the course of today's series of meetings, what expectations did the U.S. side express towards the security legislation, and by extension, the Guidelines which you referred to moments ago? What was your impression or what did the U.S. side say in this regard?

Minister:
First, from my side, I explained about the revision of the Guidelines in April and the content of the Legislation for Peace and Security that was passed in September. We shared the view that in accordance with this legislation, we should ensure the effectiveness of the new Guidelines and further increase the deterrence and response capability of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Furthermore, I explained that Japan would contribute even more to the peace and stability of the international community under Japan's policy of Proactive Contribution to Peace based on the principle of international cooperation. The respective commanders and I agreed that the SDF and the U.S. Forces would further deepen their cooperation for the peace and stability of the international community. Lastly, with regard to the Guidelines, we concurred that the relations with USPACOM Command would be made stronger through the Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM) and the Bilateral Planning Mechanism (BPM) that were established according to the Guidelines. In addition, we agreed that Japan and the United States would more aggressively promote the items which were contained in the Guidelines, including: response to the threat of ballistic missiles; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); joint training with the U.S. Forces; response to large-scale disasters in the Pacific region; and bilateral planning.

Question:
I would like to ask a question concerning your talks with Commander Swift. I gather that the Commander is highly involved in the "freedom of navigation operation." What sorts of views were exchanged on the situation in the South China Sea? Can you tell us what the two of you agreed upon if anything?

Minister:
First, I expressed to Commander Swift that ensuring the freedom of navigation and the security of the sea lanes in the South China Sea is a matter of vital concern to Japan. In addition, I conveyed once again that Japan would support the U.S. effort, which is spearheading the efforts of the international community for protecting open, free, and peaceful seas and in which the Pacific Fleet is fulfilling an important mission on the front line. Additionally, I told the Commander that Japan would engage proactively in activities that contribute to regional stability through Japan-U.S. joint training, including joint cruise training in the high seas, as well as capacity building assistance for countries in the periphery of the South China Sea.

Question:
What did Commander Swift say in response?

Minister:
The Commander stated that he fully shared my view. He noted that Japan and the United States should continue to collaborate to contribute to regional peace and stability.

Question:
I have a confirmation question. When you said earlier that you explained about the Guidelines and the Legislation for Peace and Security, was it during your talks with Commander Swift that you explained about them?

Minister:
Yes. I explained to all the commanders. It was very meaningful that we were able to exchange views candidly on the direction that we should be moving towards for the security of Japan and the United States.

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