Press Conferences

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Inada (05:13-05:19 A.M. January 7, 2017 (Japan Time))

Extra Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 05:13-05:19 A.M. January 7, 2017 (Japan Time)
Place: BF1, 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
None

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
Could you tell me about your impression of the Japan-France "2+2" Meeting, which was the third such meeting? Also, looking at the security environment, China is stepping up its maritime expansion and some people say that North Korea will continue military provocations. Under these circumstances, what do you think is the significance of the latest "2+2" Meeting?

Minister:
As I stated at the joint press announcement, at yesterday's meeting with Defense Minister Le Drian and today's "2+2" Meeting, we shared the recognition of the global security environment. I consider it to be very important that it was confirmed that the rule of law will be pursued in the South China Sea and the East China Sea in particular and that France, as a maritime nation, will take firm measures in the South China Sea and is calling for European navies to ensure a presence that is regular and visible, as Defense Minister Le Drian stated in his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue last year. I also believe it is significant that we shared the recognition of the importance for Japan and France to strengthen security and defense cooperation in the severe security environment. It is significant that at my meeting with the Defense Minister and at the "2+2" Meeting, I heard about their specific and candid ideas about the ACSA, about which we agreed to start negotiations, and plans to put into practice cooperation in such activities as joint exercises, defense equipment and technology, outer space and cyber security. This is the third meeting, following the first meeting in January 2014 and the second meeting in March 2015. At the previous meeting held in 2015, an agreement was reached to hold the next meeting in 2016, and today was chosen for the meeting as a result of scheduling adjustments on both sides. It is very significant that we explained our situation in the severe security environment surrounding Japan and that we reaffirmed the importance of the rule of law and cooperation between Japan and France in pursuing it.

Question:
Concerning the Osprey of the U.S. Forces, there has been a media report that aerial refueling training was actually resumed on January 6. Could you tell me what facts the Government of Japan and the MOD know?

Minister:
Usually, when the U.S. Forces conduct training, detailed information, such as the time of training, is not provided to the Japanese side because that is a matter concerning their operations. On the other hand, at this time, the U.S. side informed us that aerial refueling was implemented in a training zone above a maritime area around Okinawa in daytime hours on January 6 and was completed without incident. Based on the understanding that ensuring safety is the prerequisite for flight operations of the U.S. Forces' aircraft, the MOD will continue to request the U.S. side to give maximum consideration to safety and minimize the impact on the local residents.

Question:
You were informed that aerial refueling training had been conducted in daytime hours yesterday. Am I correct in understanding that you received this information yesterday?

Minister:
That is correct.

Question:
May I take it that you will also be informed at the time of future aerial refueling training?

Minister:
In that respect, as I said at the beginning, detailed information, including the time of training, is usually not provided to the Japanese side because that is a matter concerning their operations. Therefore, Japan has no intention to make a request in that respect.

Question:
Why was the information provided this time?

Minister:
The local residents and other Japanese people are strongly interested in the Osprey accident. In addition, Japan has made strong requests concerning safety checks and recurrence prevention. After the resumption of the Osprey's flight operations, we held very intensive consultations concerning aerial refueling, and the MOD conducted an adequate analysis and understood that the recurrence prevention has been conducted. When I visited Okinawa, I told Mr. Martinez about the very intensive consultations, which I have mentioned since the day of the accident, and the strong interest in and the intense anxiety about the accident. That is why the U.S. side notified us, as I understand it.

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