Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(11:33-11:41 A.M. January 9, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:33-11:41 A.M. January 9, 2016
Place: 1st floor lobby of Building A
(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. Announcement
We just held the Japan-U.K. defense ministerial meeting. Our meeting achieved two results in my view. First, with regard to the United Kingdom, a strategic partner of Japan, deepening its engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, it will secure the strengthening of the British presence in the Asia-Pacific region through substantive joint training and hosting seminars and the like. The other point is that we were able to firmly share our understanding with the United Kingdom regarding the North Korean situation and the security environment of the Asia-Pacific, including the situation in the South China Sea. Through this, the foundation was laid to raise a "common voice" in international forums together and work together with the United Kingdom, which upholds international order based on rules. These are the two points. Specifically, we achieved results in four areas. First, regarding defense equipment and technology cooperation, we confirmed the progress in the joint research on the two items that we have been working on, and that we would newly begin joint research on personnel vulnerability assessment. This research concerns technology that is essential to research and development on personal protection equipment such as bulletproof vests, and we were able to identify this as a new item for joint research. We also agreed to conduct personnel exchanges between the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency and its U.K. counterpart, the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation. Second, with regard to joint training between the SDF and the United Kingdom, we will utilize the opportunity of the international minesweeping training to conduct bilateral training. Also, Royal Air Force Typhoons are scheduled to visit Japan in 2016. There will be joint training on that occasion. We confirmed that we would further develop our cooperation, including the consideration of cooperation on amphibious capabilities and counter-improvised explosive device (IED) capabilities. If the visit of Typhoons is realized, it will be extremely significant not only from the perspective of unit exchanges but also from the viewpoint of strengthening the British presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Third, we agreed on collaboration between Japan and the United Kingdom to support capacity building assistance in Southeast Asian countries. This month, on the 19th, Japan and the United Kingdom are scheduled to jointly hold a seminar in the Philippines for ASEAN on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We instructed our administrative staffs to exchange information and proposals at the working level in order to promote such cooperation. We will also be newly establishing a working group between the defense authorities. Also, we will be exploring joint activities with a view to the United Kingdom plans to take part in Pacific Partnership 2016. Finally, with regard to the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), we will aim at concluding the agreement as soon as possible, and this will also be worked on at the working level. With regard to the state of affairs, we had an exchange of views on the South China Sea, North Korea, and terrorism. In essence, they were based on yesterday's joint statement. First, on the South China Sea, Secretary Fallon pointed to the importance of seeking peaceful resolutions to issues based on international law. Following this, we had an exchange of views on North Korea, agreed that the action by North Korea inflicted serious harm on the peace and safety of the international community and must in no way be allowed, and confirmed that we would closely exchange information and collaborate with the United Kingdom as well. On terrorism, we issued a strong statement condemning all terrorist attacks and confirmed the importance of the international community executing counterterrorism measures in unity. That is all; we were able to achieve results on the two points that were the purpose of this meeting: strengthening commitment and deepening understanding.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
Regarding the ACSA, you said that you would continue consultations. Have a sense of the timeline going forward and other specifics emerged?

Minister:
We will be conducting more practical consultations in order to make it more flexible, and exercise our ingenuity in our approach under it. We are agreed that we will be working together to come to a conclusion quickly so that it will be operable as soon as possible.

Question:
Concerning North Korea's nuclear test, regarding the fact that the Republic of Korea (ROK) resumed propaganda broadcasts, what is the Japanese evaluation of this action? Yesterday, the British foreign secretary "expressed a measure of understanding but urged the ROK to show restraint." What is the Japanese view?

Minister:
This report is about the announcement by the head of the ROK National Security Council's (NSC) secretariat. With regard to loudspeaker broadcasts, last August, the ROK conducted political propaganda broadcasts aimed at North Korea using loudspeakers installed along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the wake of a landmine explosion in the DMZ. The North Korean side responded harshly, and there was an exchange of shelling, resulting in great tension. Therefore, there is the possibility that tensions will rise again between the North and South due to the broadcast from the loudspeakers on this occasion, so we at the MOD intend to focus our attention on this situation on the peninsula.

Question:
I believe that you mentioned joint training in connection with the Typhoons. Could you tell us a little bit more about what you specifically have in mind?

Minister:
The Typhoons visiting Japan and holding joint training will lead to a significant strengthening of the British presence. In addition, since the United Kingdom has excellent expertise and capabilities on matters such as dealing with scrambling, it will be very useful for Japan. So in today's meeting, we agreed that the two sides would conduct technical consultations so that they will be fruitful and substantive training.

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