Press Conferences

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Inada (05:35-05:42 P.M. November 16, 2016 (Japan Time))

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date:05:35-05:42 P.M. November 16, 2016 (Japan Time)
Place: Area Room 2, 1F, the annex of Don Chan Palace Hotel, Vientiane, Lao PDR

(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
Today, the ASEAN-Japan Defence Ministers' Informal Meeting was held for around 90 minutes from 1:30 p.m. under the chairmanship of National Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Chansamone with the participation of other ASEAN defense ministers and myself. First, at this meeting, we shared the view on the importance of the rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts while discussing the recent situations in the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Next, in order to deal with common challenges, we also shared the view to further promote Japan-ASEAN defense cooperation. In particular, at this meeting, I announced a Japan's own initiative called the Vientiane Vision, which will contribute to ASEAN's centrality and unity, and this was welcomed by all the participating countries. This vision for the first time shows, in a transparent manner, the full picture of the future direction of defense cooperation with the ASEAN as a whole in the priority fields. The Japan-ASEAN Defense Vice-Ministerial Forum will follow up on this initiative, while the MOD will promote institutional development to better address such cooperation. I believe it is important to maintain the tradition of Japan-ASEAN partnership and cooperation and enhance defense cooperation with a creative spirit under this vision. This vision has clarified three directions of future ASEAN-Japan defense cooperation: 1. promoting and enhancing the rule of law through supporting ASEAN's effort to uphold principles of international law, especially in the field of maritime and air space; 2. promoting maritime security through supporting ASEAN's effort to build up capabilities for ISR and search and rescue; and 3. coping with increasingly diversifying and complex security issues through supporting ASEAN's effort to build up capabilities in various fields. To accomplish these, there are diverse measures. We will meet ASEAN's needs through combining measures such as seminars on international law, capacity building cooperation, defense equipment and technology cooperation, training and exercises, human resource development and academic exchange. In addition, I instructed my staff to establish a ministry-wide framework headed by the State Minister of Defense to better address these multiple efforts comprehensively. Later, from 4:30 p.m., I am scheduled to hold a defense ministerial meeting with Minister of National Defense Lt. Gen. Chansamone to exchange opinions about Japan-Laos defense cooperation exchange and the regional situation.

2. Questions and Answers

You referred to the announcement of the Vientiane Vision. Is there any specific project that has been determined for now?

We have already been providing various forms of cooperation with ASEAN countries such as capacity building cooperation, but I believe it is significant to show, in a transparent manner, the full picture of the future direction of cooperation ─ supporting ASEAN's effort to enhance ASEAN-wide capability ─ in the priority fields. For its part, the MOD will establish a ministry-wide framework headed by the State Minister of Defense to better address practical cooperation based on the vision. Today, various opinions were expressed. The ASEAN countries are located in a region that is a critical part of Japan's sea lane, so Japan will work with those countries, which are its traditional partners, to play a role for the peace and stability of the region. I believe enhancing defense cooperation with the ASEAN countries is an important task. At today's meeting, the ministers responded in various ways, expressing their appreciation or expectations, for example. As for specific cooperation, we would like to engage in initiatives, including in new fields, to deal with the issues that were discussed today, such as seminars on maritime laws, capacity building cooperation related to cyber security and the disposal of landmines and unexploded ordnances. In addition, as expectations for defense equipment and technology cooperation were also expressed and specific matters were mentioned by several ministers today, we will strive to better address practical cooperation based on the vision comprehensively through establishing the framework headed by the State Minister of Defense.

Today, did you make any reference to the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal regardingthe South China Sea, which the Prime Minister mentioned at the Japan-ASEAN summit that was held here in September?

I stated that the Tribunal's award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), so settlement of dispute based on the award is important. From among other ministers, there were voices saying that it is important to settle the disputes firmly based on the rule of law and the UNCLOS, and I also heard the opinion that there is a common thread between what is occurring in the East China Sea and what is occurring in the South China Sea.

Regarding the Vientiane Vision that was announced at this time, I suppose that the ASEAN's unity and centrality are important. Could you explain specifically what you are going to promote under this vision?

This will lead to the peace, stability and prosperity of not only the ASEAN but also the whole of Asia, the Asia-Pacific region and the entire world. In that sense, this is very important, and for Japan, securing the South China Sea will lead to securing the East China Sea, in the sense that this region is a critical part of Japan's sea lane. In short, this means that across the world, we will promote and enhance the rule of law, rather than the use of force. To do so, the ASEAN countries, despite their respective positions, will work together to enhance their own capabilities and share values, and ASEAN will play the central role in terms of spreading the rule of law across the world. This vision shows the specific direction of initiatives to do so.