Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(08:29-08:36 A.M. January 12, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 08:29-08:36 A.M. January 12, 2016
Place: Entrance to the Prime Minister's Office
(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:
A news report is alleging that if a Chinese warship enters Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, the SDF would dispatch their vessels as part of maritime security operations to urge the Chinese side to exit the waters. It is reported that Japan communicated this to the Chinese side. Is this true?

Minister:
The Government made a Cabinet decision on May 14 of last year. It concerns "responses to foreign naval vessels conducting maritime navigation in Japan's territorial waters and internal waters that cannot be considered to be innocent passage under international law." Accordingly, the Government is developing posture for coordination and collaboration among the relevant ministries and agencies, in order to take seamless responses for so-called gray-zone situations. In accordance with this Cabinet decision, the MOD will continue to take all possible measures to conduct surveillance and information gathering in preparation for any unintended consequences.

Question:
In relation to what you have just explained, the news report states that Japan communicated this to the Chinese side at the end of last year. Is this correct?

Minister:
As this concerns a diplomatic matter as well as our counterpart, I would like to refrain from responding about the facts relating to this matter.

Question:
Could you confirm whether the Government has already started implementing this policy of dispatching the SDF if a Chinese warship enters Japanese territorial waters?

Minister:
It is as stated in the Cabinet decision. I cannot elaborate on the details in response to your question regarding a hypothetical situation. In general, in cases where it is difficult for police agencies, the Japan Coast Guard, or other agencies to deal with the situation, in principle, maritime security operations are ordered and the SDF deal with the situation.

Question:
Have any actions actually ever been taken based on this principle?

Minister:
As this is a hypothetical case, I cannot disclose the details. In these situations, responses will be taken based on the principle. A Cabinet decision was made and steps are being taken accordingly.

Question:
My question is not hypothetical. I am asking whether the Government has ever taken any actions based on this principle.

Minister:
In the past, maritime security operations were ordered in response to the North Korean unidentified vessel incident. In connection with China, no maritime security operations have been ordered since the Cabinet decision was made.

Question:
Does that mean that no new response policy has been decided since the Cabinet decision of May of last year?

Minister:
That is correct.

Question:
Some media have reported that you will be visiting Okinawa at the end of this month and that a meeting with Governor Takeshi Onaga is being coordinated. Is this true? What is the status of the arrangements?

Minister:
No decision has been made on this whatsoever.

Question:
When you say no decision has been made, does that mean it is being coordinated?

Minister:
There are internal events of the MOD and so on. A decision has not been made, including whether or not I will attend them.

Question:
The Ginowan mayoral election is also coming up. The results of public opinion polls indicate that there has not been increasing public agreement with the relocation to Henoko. Do you have any wishes to visit Okinawa to provide explanations directly?

Minister:
It is my hope that the Government gains the understanding of the people of Okinawa regarding its posture and views. However, as Diet deliberations are currently taking place, it is physically not possible for me to pay a visit. Nonetheless, I hope to gain the understanding of the people of Okinawa regarding the Government's posture.

Question:
I have a question regarding North Korea. Following the flight of a B-52 aircraft, the United States has said it is considering dispatching a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. One week has passed since the nuclear test. What responses will Japan be taking? Will Japan be taking any actions with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK)? Can you please comment in this regard?

Minister:
I am aware of the news reports regarding the B-52 and so on. I am aware the U.S. Forces announced that they conducted a low-level flight of a B-52 bomber in the vicinity of the U.S. Forces base in the ROK in Osan, ROK, in response to the latest nuclear test. The MOD is not in a position to explain each and every action or operation of the U.S. Forces. Our understanding is that the flight demonstrates the United States' strong will to fulfill its role in maintaining peace as well as stability and security in this region. The MOD will continue to work to gather and analyze information. We will coordinate closely with the U.S. Forces and the relevant ministries and agencies and deal properly with the future situation.

Question:
During your telephone talks, did Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter mention that the B-52 would be flown?

Minister:
I would like to refrain from discussing the content of the talks as they also concern our counterpart.

-PAGE TOP-