Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(01:05-01:13 P.M. January 10, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 01:05-01:13 P.M. January 10, 2016
Place: GSDF Camp Narashino
(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:
How do you evaluate the overall training?

Minister:
Our personnel are agile and highly skilled. All members are highly motivated and committed to their mission. It was excellent training.

Question:
You also participated in the training. What was your candid impression?

Minister:
It was the first training of the year, so I participated in it to motivate myself. I also wanted to encourage all members to work together for our mission. That is why I participated in the training as the leader of the SDF. I believe I could set a good example to all members.

Question:
You mentioned situations surrounding North Korea in today's address to the unit members. A few days have passed since the country conducted a nuclear test on January 6. How do you analyze the current status?

Minister:
This nuclear test will further enhance the nuclear development capabilities of North Korea, so I am deeply concerned about this. Considering that the testing and development of nuclear weapons lead to enhanced missile capability, this situation poses a severe threat to the security of Japan.

Question:
In relation to the situation of North Korea, Korean Central Television of North Korea mentioned a statement by Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Korea Workers' Party, today for the first time after the test. In this statement, Mr. Kim justified the nuclear test. How do you see this situation?

Minister:
Clearly, this is a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions as well as the results of the Six-Party Talks. This move severely degrades the peace and stability of this region. As I mentioned a while ago, Japan is greatly concerned about this event. In response to this, the UN Security Council is currently holding emergency meetings to discuss the matter, and the MOD will continue to work with related countries and agencies by taking into consideration responses made by the UN Security Council.

Question:
Regarding this issue, Republic of Korea (ROK) media report that U.S. B-52 strategic bombers have been deployed in the air space over the Korean Peninsula and that they have nuclear missiles on board. Did you receive any information about this from the United States? How will Japan deal with this situation?

Minister:
The MOD is not in a position to explain each action or activity conducted by U.S. Forces. We will continue to capture further information about the move by North Korea, make more analysis on it, and share our information with related agencies and U.S. Forces to appropriately respond to future developments.

Question:
Tensions will be heightened in the region. Do you plan to enhance Japan's surveillance activities?

Minister:
Japan will continually capture and analyze related information to help stabilize the region. We will work with related agencies and U.S. Forces to appropriately respond to future developments.

Question:
There are some news reports that say that the SDF will expand their activities to deal with situations in the South China Sea. Specifically, when Japan's P-3Cs return to Japan after anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, they will preferentially stop by countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. Could you comment if this is the case?

Minister:
Our P-3C patrol aircraft, which are used for anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, are travelling between Japan and Djibouti en route to several countries in South East Asia and South Asia for refueling. To select actual countries that accept the landing of the P-3Cs, we are making arrangements with host countries and airports each time based on their refueling capabilities for the aircraft. Thus, we do not select them in order to respond to a specific country. Also, the SDF have conducted bilateral and multilateral joint training and exercises with countries facing the South China Sea. In that sense, we have conducted training in order to enhance our tactical capabilities. We do not have a specific country or region in our mind through these efforts.

Question:
Yesterday, a video on North Korea's ballistic missile on a submarine was released. ROK sources suspect that the video may have been artificially composed. What is your take on this?

Minister:
We are currently working hard to analyze related information, including the video. Last May, North Korea announced that the country had succeeded in the test launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). So we expect that the country has been continually developing a SLBM. However, a SLBM requires sophisticated technology. It is launched from underwater into the air, and then it should continue flying in the air. Therefore, the missile adopts what is called "a cold launch system" to ignite the engine after being launched into the air. This "cold launch system" prevents damage to the submarine that works as the launch platform of the missile and reignites the engine once the missile is in the air. This requires advanced technology. As we watch the video, the missile is ascending at an angle of 90 degrees to the water after being launched from underwater. Thus, some experts point out that North Korea may have made progress technologically in comparison with the test launch of last May and the MOD is paying close attention to this situation. We will continually watch out for steps taken by North Korea with great interest.

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