*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purpose only.
9:27 - 9:35 a.m.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Press Conference Room, METI
Nuclear Power Plant Project in the UK
Minister Seko: Good morning. First, let me start with one topic. On 4th June, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark issued a statement at the UK Parliament regarding the nuclear power plant project. I would like to welcome this statement as proof that negotiations between Hitachi and the UK government are in progress.
I believe that nuclear power plant projects overseas are of policy significance, in terms of not only for dealing with the global peaceful use of nuclear energy, but also for contributing to maintain and strengthen Japan’s nuclear technologies and human resources which serve for safety operations, maintenance and decommissioning of Japan’s nuclear power plants.
Based on the future progress of negotiations, I will proactively take part in the discussions on the issues including Japan’s role of development support.
US import restriction measures
Q: At the G7 financial ministers’ meeting last week, Minister of Finance Aso said that Japan is considering filing a challenge to the US with the WTO. Could you tell us about your thoughts on this consideration progress?
A: I understand the purport of Minister Aso’s remarks was that we were taking various considerations including clerical procedures in order to prepare for every possibility.
The Japanese government is considering necessary actions under the WTO framework and already made a notification to reserve its rights to take rebalancing measures under the Agreement on Safeguards. At this moment, we have not yet decided on any specific actions including the WTO filing.
At any rate, we would like to continue to work with the US, while fully examining the impacts on Japanese companies including the status of exemption by product category.
G7 Summit Meeting
Q: The G7 summit meeting will be held on 8th June. Prior to it, at the trilateral trade ministers’ meeting or G7 financial ministers’ meeting, confrontations over the US trade policy seem to be increasing in intensity, or are at least beginning to surface. Under such circumstances, what do you expect to discuss at this summit?
A: As the summit discussion is purely interactions between state leaders, I would like to refrain from making any predictive comments, but as for the trilateral trade ministers’ meeting in Paris, I had quite long time discussions over various trade issues, which I believe lasted about three hours in total. In the meeting, I addressed to the US Trade Representative Lighthizer that, especially regarding Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, any trade restrictive measures must be WTO-consistent and otherwise it would provoke global market turmoil and lead to the disruption of the rule-based multilateral trade system, which would be extremely regrettable.
Prior to that, I had a bilateral meeting with the European Commissioner for Trade, Malmstrom. Although it might be somewhat an exceptional effort in normal bilateral meetings, we issued a joint statement that Japan and the EU shared serious concerns over the US trade measures and confirmed our intention to cooperate closely in dealing with the problems and call on other like-minded countries to join our efforts.
In addition, at the trilateral meeting, we also confirmed our intention to cooperate as trilateral trade ministers, in working especially on market distortion measures, by issuing three quite detailed scoping papers attached to the joint statement.
Nuclear Power Plant Project in the UK
Q: As for the project of Horizon [a subsidiary of Hitachi], could you tell us about the Japanese government’s strategy to support this, and throughout the support, are there any additional burdens to Japanese taxpayers?
A: As for the Japanese government or related institutions’ involvement, including any policy support, we would decide based on thorough examinations. Therefore no specific decision has been made at this moment.
As a possibility, however, there could naturally be some support by government financial institutions such as the DBJ (Development Bank of Japan) or the JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation). At any rate, no specific decision has been made at the moment.
Now I dare to mention NEXI (Nippon Export and Investment Insurance), under the jurisdiction of METI: if it were to support the project, I understand that any taxpayers’ money would not be directly used, for the scheme of NEXI purely consists of insurance fees paid by private companies.