Press Conferences

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Inada (11:47-11:54 A.M. January 13, 2017 (Japan Time))

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:47-11:54 A.M. January 13, 2017 (Japan Time)
Place: Finegayan Area

(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 visited Andersen Air Force Base and observed the project to relocate the Marine Corps to Guam and THAAD. Could you share your comments on that?

Minister:
I visited Andersen Air Force Base and took a first-hand look at important activities such as maintaining the deterrence capability based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance and relocating to Guam for the purpose of mitigating the impact on Okinawa, which is the most important challenge under the Abe administration. In the increasingly severe environment surrounding Japan, I also observed the equipment of the U.S. Pacific Command deployed in Guam, and as a result, my confidence in the extended deterrence provided by the United States has increased and my understanding of the U.S. commitment to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region has deepened. Concerning THAAD, the threat from North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles has entered a new stage. In this situation, I believe that it is very significant that I looked at THAAD as part of our consideration on Japanese initiatives, such as missile defense readiness and the introduction of a new asset.

Question:
Regarding THAAD, I assume that a study will be conducted with a view to its possible introduction. Could you give me some idea of the schedule for that?

Minister:
At this stage, there is no specific plan to introduce THAAD. However, as I mentioned earlier, we regard the introduction of a new asset as a possible option to enhance the capability to respond to the present environment surrounding Japan, the threat from North Korea, which has entered a new stage. Therefore, from now on, we will study what can be done about that as an option.

Question:
I suppose that the Guam relocation project will lead directly to the mitigation of the impact on Okinawa. How will you proceed with it?

Minister:
I would like to ensure close Japan-U.S. cooperation to mitigate the impact on Okinawa and strive to accelerate the project as much as possible.

Question:
Regarding the study on THAAD, a media report has said that a study group on THAAD will be established within the MOD. Around when do you intend to establish the group?

Minister:
I have not yet decided specifically how to conduct a study or when to do so, but I will consider what can be done in order to conduct an appropriate study.

Question:
Can you tell me by when you would like to make up your mind about what can be done? The issue is that matters such as the budget for the next fiscal year and the budget request will come up.

Minister:
Some budget funds have been allocated to new initiatives like that under the latest budget as well. Although I cannot say for sure when the study will start, I would like to move forward as quickly as necessary.

Question:
Regarding THAAD, Russia and China have raised objections to its deployment by the U.S. Forces in the Republic of Korea (ROK). Objections are also expected to be raised by those neighboring countries when Japan conducts a study on the deployment. How do you intend to handle that?

Minister:
Although I observed THAAD today, there is no specific plan concerning it. Looking at the present situation surrounding Japan, we should consider what is the best option from the perspective of what we should do to defend Japan. Making clear that missile defense is really necessary for defending Japan after having done that is what we should do by way of explanation to the neighboring countries.

Question:
A public hearing with Mr. Mattis, who is the nominee for the next U.S. Secretary of Defense, was held on January 12. In the hearing, while expressing continued commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, Mr. Mattis made remarks to the effect that he will call on the allies to bear appropriate costs. In relation to these remarks, you previously said that the expenditures for the stationing of the U.S. Forces in Japan are sufficient. Following Mr. Mattis' latest remarks, could you tell me how you intend to share the cost and responsibilities?

Minister:
It is not clear in what context those remarks were made, and I also understand that he did not name Japan. In any case, there will be no change in our position that the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the enhancement of the Japan-U.S. Alliance are at the core of Japan's defense policy. Amid such situations, as I have been saying all along, the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangement is not something from which only Japan or the United States benefits. It brings benefits to the United States, too, and I believe that the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region is an important interest not only for Japan but also for the United States, so I will talk about what the appropriate sharing of the cost is from that viewpoint.

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