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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have one item to report. On Saturday, April 21, 2012, the 4th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting is scheduled to be held in Tokyo, with the leaders of the Mekong countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, being invited to attend. This fourth meeting in Japan is to be held based on an agreement reached by the participating countries at the 3rd Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting held in Bali in November last year. Relations between Japan and the Mekong countries have developed significantly since the first summit meeting, and at the upcoming meeting it is expected that the leaders will formulate new pillars for cooperation up to 2015, as a means of ensuring the steady implementation of Japan-Mekong cooperation.



REPORTER: Yesterday and again today a Chinese vessel has requested that a hydrographic survey vessel of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) halt its survey activities. What is the Japanese Government's view of this matter and what response will the Government be making?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The hydrographic survey vessels Shoyo and Takuyo of the JCG are currently engaged in marine survey activities in Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea. Yesterday, at around 8:00pm the China Marine Surveillance Ship 66 approached the JCG vessels and requested that survey activities be halted. Also today, between 9:00 and 10:00am, similar requests were made on two occasions. In the vicinity of the JCG hydrographic survey vessels the presence of a further Chinese vessel, the China Marine Surveillance Ship 46 has also been confirmed. The JCG hydrographic survey vessels are engaged in legitimate survey activities in Japan's EEZ and they responded to this effect to the requests. It is truly regrettable that additional requests to halt activities further to the request issued on February 19 have been directed at JCG vessels engaged in legitimate survey activities in Japan's EEZ. The survey activities are scheduled to continue and a protest has been lodged immediately to Chinese authorities via diplomatic channels. Those are the facts of the matter.

REPORTER: There have been a number of press reports today that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has compiled a final proposal concerning the establishment of a Japanese National Security Council (NSC). With regard to the Japanese NSC, the National Defense Program Guidelines also make clear that such an organization would be established as an advisory body to the Prime Minister. What are the Government's plans about how to advance this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: You just stated that a final proposal has been compiled, but in actual fact it is my understanding that the proposal that has been compiled is a preliminary one by a working team, which will be subject to discussion within the party. Through the forum of the Team to Deliberate the Strengthening of Cabinet Functions Regarding National Security, which draws on the resources of the various divisions of the Cabinet Secretariat, the Government is in the process of examining past case studies and surveying the organizational structures relating to national security in other countries. It is for this reason that further time is required before the compilation of a final proposal is complete and this is not the stage at which anything concrete can be stated. I believe that at around the end of March a proposal will be submitted from the party to the Government.


REPORTER: There have been some press reports about revisions to the rules  for use of weapons in peacekeeping operations (PKO). What is the current status of considerations within the Government and is it intended that such a revision would be applied to the personnel of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) that are currently dispatched to South Sudan on a PKO mission? Is this something you are considering?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Study Group on Japan's Future Cooperation in Peacekeeping Operations has been engaged in various considerations since 2010 and in July last year an interim report was issued. Given this background there has also been discussion on the issue in the Diet, and I have even today responded to questions on the subject today. However, the content of any revision to the format in which Japan cooperates in United Nations PKO missions and other activities whether any revision would require amendments to current legislation or not is something that is being discussed among the relevant ministries and agencies. This will require due process and whether an amendment to legislation will be submitted is still currently being deliberated. For this reason I think you can understand that any changes will bear not much relationship to the current PKO mission underway in South Sudan.


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