Press Conferences

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Inada (02:00-02:12 P.M. November 19, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 02:00-02:12 P.M. November 19, 2016
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)

(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:
Today, you participated in the departure ceremony, which was attended by around 300 family members in addition to the personnel. I saw a mother holding an infant in her arms. Could you offer your thoughts once again as the Minister who is responsible for ordering the dispatch?

Minister:
Today, I ascertained that the morale is really high among the personnel to be dispatched, from Commander Tanaka down, and that they have undergone adequate training in preparation for the dispatch. I also had an opportunity to have intimate talks with family members, and I felt that they are well-prepared to provide support. As the person who issued the order, I am hoping that the personnel of the 11th unit will conduct significant activities and all of them will return to Japan safely.

Question:
Some family members may have worries. I understand that until now, information sessions have been held for family members, but do you think that you have obtained sufficient understanding from them?

Minister:
At each location, an information session has been held twice for the families of the unit's personnel, and as a result, we have generally obtained the families' understanding, according to a report I received today. Today, an information session was held again for families seeking explanations. Moreover, a system of consultation will be established, and support for families ─ in the case of Aomori, for example, families left behind by the departing personnel will have to cope with heavy snowfall in the coming winter ─ will be adequately provided, according to the report. For my part, I will continue to explain the significance of the dispatch to South Sudan and the new tasks and will also explain that adequate training has been implemented in preparation for the dispatch.

Question:
Tomorrow's departure follows the assignment of the new tasks as a result of the government's careful consideration of whether or not they can be assigned. Could you once again share your comments on this decision?

Minister:
First, I visited South Sudan on October 8 in order to inspect the situation there from the standpoint of carefully examining whether the dispatched unit can conduct significant activities in South Sudan while maintaining the five principles of PKO participation and ensuring its own safety. Later, Special Advisor Shibayama visited the country for inspection in November. Moreover, I am receiving daily reports. After considering all such input from a comprehensive perspective, the government as a whole has ascertained that the situation is relatively stable in the city of Juba and the surrounding region, although the security situation in South Sudan is naturally very severe and there have been sporadic armed clashes in the northern region, where Mr. Machar comes from, and in the southern border region. The new task is implemented within the limits of what the engineering unit can do from the humanitarian perspective in response to an urgent request in order to avoid abandoning people who can be rescued. Joint protection of camps will lead to the reduction of the risks faced by the SDF personnel if they implement it within the limits of what they can do as members of a group with a shared destiny. Therefore, we have assigned these new tasks based on careful judgment concerning that point and whether stable consent can be maintained. As the Commander said today, the training was completed after the proficiency reached a sufficient level, so I believe that the personnel will be able to depart with confidence in that respect. However, as I repeatedly mentioned, it is necessary to continue to carefully watch the situation in South Sudan with a sense of alertness.

Question:
In your instruction, you mentioned "a new step forward." Do you think that the assignment of such tasks as "kaketsuke-keigo" (coming to protection of individuals related to operations in response to urgent request) represents a step toward the international standard?

Minister:
First, regarding "kaketsuke-keigo," as I repeatedly mentioned, the SDF personnel protected Japanese nationals in Timor-Leste and Zaire in response to their requests for protection although there was not any law providing a suitable legal basis for conducting an activity like "kaketsuke-keigo" and training had not been conducted. I believe it is significant that the legislative framework for "kaketsuke-keigo" has been established at this time in light of such requests in order to rescue people who can be rescued as an emergency measure from the humanitarian perspective within the limits of what the engineering unit can do, and that adequate training has been implemented for that purpose. At this time, I described this as "a new step" because the new Legislation for Peace and Security, which was enacted last year and was put into force in March this year, is a very significant law that enables Japan to ensure its own security and contribute to the peace and stability of the world within the limits of the constitution. The enactment of the new Legislation for Peace and Security strengthens the Japan-U.S. Alliance and is very significant in terms of Japan's security. This is "a new step" in that it is a new task under the new Legislation for Peace and Security.

Question:
More than one year has passed since the Legislation for Peace and Security was enacted in September last year, and since you took office, you have issued orders for such specific activities as preparing for the dispatch and implemented the necessary procedures. Could you look back at and evaluate the government's past activities to prepare for the dispatch?

Minister:
Are you referring to the preparations for the dispatch to be made at this time?

Question:
You have also made preparations such as making a trip to inspect the situation, so I would like you to evaluate the way that the preparations have been made, for example.

Minister:
After the law was put into force in March, the training has been implemented since late August following various preparations. I believe I have carefully examined whether the SDF personnel can perform the new tasks and conduct activities as an engineering unit while ensuring their own safety. When I visited South Sudan, I met with officials of the South Sudanese government and the U.N special representative there and recognized that the Japanese SDF is conducting various significant activities toward nation building there, such as road building and facility improvement. It is very significant that the 11th unit will be dispatched to South Susan with a sense of confidence and pride after making such preparations and undergoing sufficient training, and I believe this is an international contribution suitable for Japan.

Question:
U.S. President-elect Trump has named Mr. Flynn as his national security advisor. Minister Kishida offered the assessment that he is a person who recognizes the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. What is your assessment?

Minister:
I am not in a position to comment on personnel appointments in the United States, but U.S. President-elect Trump said that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is very significant and he expressed his hope to deepen it into a strong alliance. So, whoever may be appointed for which position, I believe it is necessary to further deepen the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

Question:
I understand that today, you held informal talks with the personnel who will be dispatched and their families. Could you share any message you may have given to them or received from them?

Minister:
I shook hands with most of them. I am glad to have had the opportunity to earnestly listen to the various circumstances of individual families. For example, I heard about a family in which both the father and son are SDF personnel and a grandson, a junior high-school student, wants to join the SDF. I also heard about a mother and daughter who are both SDF personnel, about a married couple who are going to South Sudan together, and about a mother departing for South Sudan who came here with her junior high-school and elementary school children. I am hoping that the SDF personnel, with encouragement from their families, will conduct significant activities in South Sudan while ensuring their own safety.

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