Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Nakatani (06:28-06:39 P.M. July 14, 2016(Japan Time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 06:28-06:39 P.M. July 14, 2016(Japan Time)
Villa Medici, The Taji Mahal Hotel

(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:
You held a Japan-India defense ministerial meeting. Please tell me about the results.

Minister:
Today, I held a meeting with Defence Minister Parrikar. The meeting lasted for around one and a half hours, followed by an hour luncheon. This was my first meeting with Minister Parrikar since the Shangri-La Dialogue last month and our fourth bilateral defense ministerial meeting. Japan and India concluded the Special Strategic and Global Partnership in September 2014, and since then, the two countries have tackled the challenges faced by this region and the international community. At this defense ministerial meeting, we shared the recognition of the security situation of the region and the international community and discussed a broad range of issues, including the two countries' defense policies, terrorism, maritime security, Japan-India defense cooperation and exchange, the high level exchanges, cooperation between military branches, education, academic affairs, and defense equipment and technology cooperation. First, regarding the regional situation, we expressed condolences over the death of Japanese and Indian nationals in the recent terrorist incident in Bangladesh and exchanged opinions about the situation of international terrorism. We affirmed that as an act of terrorism like this poses a serious threat to international peace and security and should not be condoned, our two countries need to strengthen cooperation with each other. Next, regarding the PKO activity in South Sudan, we exchanged opinions about the present situation and affirmed that the two countries will act to ensure the safety of activities in Juba and will cooperate with each other in the U.N. PKO activity. With regard to maritime security, while affirming that the two countries share strategic interests in contributing to the maintenance of the order of free and open seas, we exchanged opinions about the recent situation in the Indo-Pacific region, including the East and South China Seas. In particular, regarding the situation in the South China Sea, we affirmed the importance of the rule of law, which was indicated in the final award by the Arbitral Tribunal between the Philippines and China, and agreed that we will pursue peaceful settlement of the disputes. With respect to defense cooperation and exchange, we affirmed that the two countries will continue high-level exchanges, including holding a defense ministerial meeting annually through mutual visits. In addition, we agreed to set up a Maritime Strategic Dialogue between the two countries' defense authorities. Furthermore, we will continue to steadily implement exchanges between military branches. We decided to make Malabar, which was a Japan-India joint maritime exercise, a trilateral maritime joint exercise between Japan, the United States, and India. The GSDF and ASDF will also seek to realize unit exchanges, such as the invitation of Indian forces as observers to exercises organized or attended by the SDF and asset exchanges, including landing by ASDF transport aircraft at Indian air bases. Regarding defense equipment and technology cooperation, we agreed that the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency will hold the second round of the Joint Working Group on Defence Equipment and Technology Cooperation with the Indian Ministry of Defence and Department of Defence Production in August 2016 at the earliest and will make progress in discussions toward identifying specific cooperation projects. With respect to cooperation related to the US-2 amphibious aircraft, I requested India to hold a defense procurement committee meeting so that the two countries' deliberation on the matter can be accelerated. Regarding this matter, I conveyed the Government's intention to make more active efforts. With respect to the matters on which I agreed in the meeting with the Indian Defence Minister, we will steadily implement them so that we can further develop our defense exchange with India. That is all I have to say about the bilateral defense ministerial meeting. Next, I will make an announcement concerning South Sudan. The Government is exploring every possibility in order to ensure prompt and safe evacuation of Japanese nationals staying in South Sudan. As part of this effort, we have kept C-130 transport aircraft standing by in Djibouti. Upon the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I issued an order for transportation of Japanese nationals overseas today, and within today, a C-130 transport aircraft is scheduled to be transferred to the South Sudanese capital of Juba in order to transport several Japanese nationals back to Djibouti. According to reports from Juba, the situation there has been relatively stable. However, from the perspective of ensuring the safety of the engineering unit and Japanese nationals staying in South Sudan, the MOD/SDF will keep a close watch on the local situation with alertness. While it has been confirmed for now that four officials of the Japanese embassy in South Sudan will be evacuated, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to call for Japanese nationals staying there to evacuate themselves. Within today, one transport aircraft is scheduled to be transferred to Juba in order to evacuate several Japanese nationals back to Djibouti. I would like to refrain from providing the detailed schedule from the perspective of ensuring a safe flight.

Question:
Before asking you about the defense ministerial meeting, in the South Sudan case, how many Japanese nationals will be transported?

Minister:
Four persons.

Question:
Will the transport aircraft bring back the four?

Minister:
Although various countries requested, they decided after all that they can evacuate their nationals on their own, so the aircraft will bring back the four persons. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is continuing to call for Japanese nationals staying in South Sudan to evacuate themselves.

Question:
Will no foreign national be aboard?

Minister:
That is correct.

Question:
Has the transport aircraft left Djibouti today?

Minister:
I cannot say whether it has already left Djibouti. Question:
You cannot say that. However, may I take it that it will arrive in Juba within today Japan time?

Minister:
As for the schedule, within today, one transport aircraft is scheduled to be transferred to Juba in order to bring Japanese nationals back to Djibouti. Question:
Do you mean "within today" on Japan Time?

Minister:
I am saying "within today."

Question:
May I take it that the aircraft will return to Djibouti within today?

Minister:
It will return as soon as possible.

Question:
Returning to the defense ministerial meeting, specifically what kind of issues will be discussed in a Maritime Strategic Dialogue?

Minister:
Regarding this, we just made a proposal. India faces the Indian Ocean and Japan faces the Pacific Ocean. In particular, in Japan's case, the Indian Ocean occupies an important place in its sea lane. We are considering using this as a framework of consultations to discuss the enhancement of the sharing of the recognition of and information concerning the maritime situation and the strengthening of policy cooperation. So far, Japan and India have been enhancing the sharing of the recognition of the situation and various forms of cooperation with India regarding maritime security by using frameworks of consultations such as the defense ministerial meeting, the administrative-vice-minister-level defense policy dialogue, the director-general level meeting and the consultation between the naval staffs. However, taking into consideration the present situations in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the East China Sea, we would like to establish a new framework for strategic consultations specialized in maritime security As for the details of the consultation, deliberation will be conducted at the working level.

Question:
Has the schedule of the first Japan-India dialogue not yet been negotiated?

Minister:
That is correct. While that will be discussed at the working level, I will make efforts to launch the Dialogue as early as possible.

Question:
As for the final award by the Arbitral Tribunal regarding the South China Sea, how was China's refusal to accept it addressed in the meeting with Minister Parrikar?

Minister:
In this respect, as I mentioned earlier, the final award was rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Minister Parrikar made remarks that are mostly in line with our position, such as that the award confirmed the importance of the rule of law and that India will pursue peaceful settlement of the disputes.

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