Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(08:27-08:34 A.M. January 15, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 08:27-08:34 A.M. January 15, 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:
At the end of last year, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) conducted a joint exercise in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. Some media have reported that its disclosure was postponed at the request of the ROK. Is this true?

Minister:
On December 23 of last year, the destroyer "Suzunami," which is being deployed for counter-piracy operations, conducted an exercise in the Gulf of Aden with a vessel of the Republic of Korea Navy, for the purposes of enhancing coordination among the units of the countries engaged in counter-piracy operations and increasing the tactical skills of the MSDF. For every joint exercise we hold with other countries, a decision is made as to whether or not it would be announced and its timing based on a comprehensive assessment of various factors, including the circumstances of the counterpart country, the situation of the operations of the units, and the content and scale of the exercise. As the exercise in question was a small-scale exercise pertaining to basic maneuvers, it was not announced in advance.

Question:
Some media report that there was a request from the ROK side. Can you please comment on this once again?

Minister:
For each exercise, a decision is made as to whether or not it would be announced and so on, based on consultations with the counterpart country, its circumstances, the situation of the operations of the units, and the content and scale of the exercise. As the exercise in question was a small-scale exercise, it was not announced.

Question:
Yesterday, House of Representatives member Yoshitaka Sakurada of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) made an apology and retracted his inappropriate remarks regarding the comfort women issue. What is your view regarding this matter or the fact that such remarks were made? Some people view that these remarks could affect the Japan-ROK agreement that was reached at the end of last year. Can you please share your thoughts in this regard?

Minister:
It is as the Chief Cabinet Secretary responded yesterday. The foreign ministers and the relevant authorities held consultations regarding the various issues between Japan and the ROK, which culminated in the joint announcement. This says it all. The two countries are committed to resolving these issues in accordance with the agreement.

Question:
What about the fact that a member of the LDP made these remarks or holds these views?

Minister:
Sincere efforts are being made to resolve the various matters between the two countries through dialogue. Members should bear this in mind, and think from an international perspective before speaking and taking actions.

Question:
This weekend, official campaigning will start for the Ginowan mayoral election in Okinawa. Candidate Keiichiro Shimura, who plans to run in the election, is against the relocation to Henoko, which is one of the points at issue. The incumbent promises to attract a Disney resort, among other measures. What do you consider to be the biggest point at issue in the upcoming Ginowan mayoral election? From before you have often made references to "the understanding of the local community." If candidate Shimura is elected, how do you think this would impact the relocation of the military base to Henoko?

Minister:
This is a local election to elect a mayor, and the respective points at issue and the themes will be decided by the local citizens through the election. It is not for me to say this or that. I perceive that electing a mayor of a local municipality is a local matter. This is separate from the issue of the MCAS Futenma. This has long been an outstanding issue of the Government. We are carrying out the relocation to eliminate the problems and the risks posed by MCAS Futenma. The Government will take steps to make Futenma a safe place as quickly as possible.

Question:
Does that mean that the Government does not intend to suspend the relocation, even if the election is won by candidate Shimura, who is opposed to the relocation to Henoko?

Minister:
These are government-wide decisions and responses. I consider that this project needs to be promoted from a variety of perspectives.

Question:
I have a question in connection with the submarine Soryu. Yesterday, the MSDF officially announced the disposition. Can you please share your comments?

Minister:
As I also responded at the Diet, I, as Minister of Defense, deeply regrets that an individual who became an SDF personnel with high aspirations, an SDF personnel with a promising future, attempted suicide because of seniors' inappropriate direction that was accompanied by the use of violence. I would like to express my sincere apology. In order to ensure that there is no inappropriate direction accompanied by the use of violence, we will further strengthen our service direction and make efforts to prevent the recurrence of these incidents.

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