Press Conferences

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Iwaya (01:45-01:50 P.M. December 19, 2018)

Extra Press Conference by Defense Minister Iwaya
Time & 01:45-01:50 P.M. December 19, 2018
Place: Quay at the Yokosuka District Headquarters

(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, I made an observation tour of the destroyer Izumo. Regarding this destroyer Izumo, its remodel and other matters are described in the new National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Program that were decided at the cabinet meeting today. I was able to have a close look at the Izumo with my own eyes. This made me realize anew its presence as a destroyer equipped with multiple functions including the ability to operate helicopters, command center and medical functions, and troop- and cargo-carrying capacities. I was also very much heartened to meet the highly motivated troops. I also made an observation tour of the Self Defense Fleet Headquarters of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), our forces on the frontlines. I believe that I was able to deepen my understanding of the state of operations by the MSDF. I would like to continue to always grasp the current state of affairs on the frontlines and to use every opportunity to encourage the troops who are exerting themselves on the frontlines. These are my opening remarks.

2. Questions and Answers

Question:
The National Defense Program Guidelines were passed by cabinet decision yesterday. Could you tell us again the role that you expect Izumo to play in the current security environment?

Minister:
Izumo class destroyers were originally constructed with the aim to use them for multiple purposes, as I just mentioned. Today, I was able to actually confirm this with my own eyes. In addition to these functions, going forward, we will remodel them so that they can operate with fighters as well so that the air defense system in the Pacific Ocean area will be strengthened, while at the same time, for example, when an emergency situation occurs with regard to a Self-Defense aircraft and there is no base nearby it can land on the Izumo. We certainly want it to be active as a multi-function, multi-use destroyer going forward by adding such functions.

Question:
Regarding the National Defense Program Guidelines, China has reacted strongly to the strong concern expressed in the National Defense Program Guidelines over its military activities. What are your views about this?

Minister:
We will not become a threat to other countries or cause unease for them since there is no change to our exclusively defense-oriented policy under the new National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Program and the remodel of the Izumo class that has now been decided is not for operating fighters on an everyday basis and that they will continue to be used as multi-function, multiple-use destroyers while they add on new functions, as I just mentioned. We intend to give detailed, careful explanations of this.

Question:
It is my understanding that your comments just now explain how you feel about the concern over the remodel of aircraft carriers. They announced that Japan is stoking up the fire of threats, stoking the fire of China as a threat, that Japan is stoking the fire. What are your views about this?

Minister:
We are not stirring up anything. We are always conducting monitoring and surveillance activities, monitoring and surveillance over our territory, territorial waters, and territorial air space without singling out any particular country. It is true in this context that Chinese activities are very prominent. I think that the reaction is against the fact that this was described in the new National Defense Program Guidelines. I believe that it is important to strive to resolve such a state of tension.

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