Press Conference

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Inada (04:31-04:40 A.M. January 6, 2017 (Japan Time))

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 04:31-04:40 A.M. January 6, 2017 (Japan Time)
Place: Carre du Patio, basement floor, L'Hotel du Collectionneur
(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
Ahead of tomorrow's Japan-France "2+2" Foreign and Defense Ministers' Meeting, I held a Japan-France defense ministerial meeting with French Defense Minister Le Drian. I agreed with Minister Le Drian that as France is not only a member of the European Union but also a Pacific country possessing territories in the Asia-Pacific region, it is important for Japan and France to cooperate with each other as "special partners" sharing fundamental values, and we reaffirmed that we will work together to further strengthen the Japan-France defense cooperation. At the meeting, I explained Japan's defense policy and pointed out that alliance systems such as the Japan-U.S. Alliance and NATO constitute the foundation of the global order and that it is important that the United States continues to be involved with the peace and stability of the world as a major player, and Minister Le Drian agreed with that. As for the Japan-France defense cooperation, we reaffirmed that the two countries will work on the specifics of a joint research on the next-generation underwater mine detection technology as the first concrete cooperation project in the field of defense equipment and technology. We also shared the recognition of the importance of strict protection of technologies and export control. Moreover, we agreed on the importance of strengthening institutional foundations, including the Japan-France ACSA, and on the usefulness of sharing the recognition of the situations in the Middle East and Africa and reaffirmed that more in-depth discussions will be held at tomorrow's Japan-France "2+2" Meeting. Tomorrow evening, I will attend the Japan-France "2+2" Meeting, and I am expecting that a frank exchange of opinions will be conducted regarding security and defense cooperation between Japan and France and the regional situations among the four ministers.

2.Questions and Answers

Question:
You said that the continuing importance of alliance systems such as the Japan-U.S. Alliance and NATO was mentioned. Was that mentioned in consideration of the forthcoming inauguration of the new Trump administration?

Minister:
At this time, we discussed our respective defense policies. I explained the three aspects of the Japanese policy that I always mention-enhancing Japan's own defense capability in terms of both quality and quantity, strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance and strengthening relationships with relevant countries in consideration of the severe security environment surrounding Japan. At today's meeting, there was no particular discussion based on the assumption of what may happen after the inauguration of the new U.S. administration.

Question:
Was maritime security discussed?

Minister:
Yes, it was. Minister Le Drian also mentioned the importance of maritime security. We shared the recognition that pursuing the rule of law in the South China Sea and increasing European countries' presence in the Asia-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, will contribute to the peace and stability of this region. Last year, Defense Minister Le Drian stated in his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue that the South China Sea issue is not just a matter of European economic interests but also affects Europe directly and proposed that European navies should ensure a presence that is regular and visible. I welcomed this proposal and expressed my appreciation of such efforts.

Question:
Speaking of the South China Sea issue, the Chinese navy's aircraft carrier Liaoning advanced into the Pacific Ocean for the first time at the end of last year, and it was announced that the aircraft carrier engaged in a full-scale exercise at the beginning of this year. Could you share your comments on that?

Minister:
In view of the use of force to promote reclamation and construction of military facilities in the South China Sea, I believe it is also important to ensure the rule of law in the East China Sea. Concerning China's military activities, including the aircraft carrier's moves that you mentioned, we will keep a careful watch on the purpose, objective and current status of the activities with a high level of interest. As I have said over and over again, I believe it is important to ensure the global order under the law of the sea based not on the use of force but on international law and to continue to communicate the importance of doing so together with countries with which we share global values.

Question:
Was the Chinese navy's aircraft carrier discussed at today's meeting?

Minister:
There were discussions on the situations in the East China Sea and South China Sea in general, rather than on specific developments.

Question:
Concerning the underwater mine detection technology that you mentioned earlier, you said that an agreement was reached on strict control, but it was pointed out in the past that helicopter landing systems exported to China by a French company were being diverted for use on Chinese government vessels. How will Japan call on France to ensure the effectiveness of export control and prevention of illegal shipment and transfer to a third-party country for unintended application?

Minister:
Last year, such possible risks were discussed at the Japan-France committee on cooperation in the field of defense equipment, and today, I also called attention to them.

Question:
Does "working on the specifics" of the detection technology mean that a decision has been made to conduct joint research on an underwater mine detection technology?

Minister:
Regarding the underwater mine detection technology, it was reaffirmed that we will work on materializing joint research while using our respective strengths.

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