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Press Conference by Minister Seko (excerpted version)

*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purpose only.

9:16 - 9:24 a.m.
Friday, April 19, 2019
Press Conference Room, METI

Question-and-Answer Session

Employment of Specified Skilled Foreign Workers at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Q: It is reported that TEPCO will employ foreign workers with specified skills in the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Would you tell us what your thoughts are on this, including whether such TEPCO efforts are appropriate or not?

A: Regarding the reports you reference, I am aware that the policy scheme pertaining to residency status for foreigners with “specified skills" was put into effect on April 1, and that in relation to this, on March 28, TEPCO informed its prime contractors and cooperating companies of the basic concept of having foreign human resources work at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
I also heard that in addition to providing the outline of the scheme, TEPCO specified that work carried out by foreign personnel with specified skills should fall under specific duties and industries, such as construction, and that Japanese language skills are required to the extent that safety instructions can be understood, in order to comply with laws and regulations.
As the new law was enacted on April 1, I believe it is natural not only for METI but also for companies, including power utilities, to take necessary measures in order to ensure that the law is properly enforced.
Therefore, in the power utility sector too, not limited to TEPCO or Fukushima Daiichi, we will cooperate with relevant ministries and agencies in order to carry out various initiatives on the premise of safety first. As for Fukushima Daiichi, we will provide TEPCO with required guidance and supervision so that decommissioning will be able to proceed safely and steadily.
However, TEPCO's action was taken in line with the enforcement of the law from April 1. In general terms, there is another point of view regarding nuclear power plants. From the viewpoint of counterterrorism measures, it is necessary, for instance, to conduct extensive background checks and confirm the credibility of personnel working in the protected areas of nuclear power plants. I believe that TEPCO will respond to this issue based on such a viewpoint.

Negotiation for Japan-US Trade Agreement on Goods

Q: Regarding the recent Japan-US Trade Negotiations, I would like to ask you once again about your thoughts on this, including your stance on the quantitative restriction on automobiles that the US side seems to have strong interest in.

A: I have heard that the consultations between Minister Motegi and the US Trade Representative Lighthizer on April 15 and 16 reaffirmed that Japan and the US would proceed with future consultations in line with the Japan-US Joint Statement of September last year, and that they exchanged frank opinions on their respective positions.
Regarding the quantitative restriction on automobiles, it is Japan's consistent position that any trade agreements should be consistent with WTO rules. Japan is opposed to measures that could distort free and open trade and lead to managed trade.

US Sanctions against Iran

Q: It is less than two weeks before the expiration of the US exemption from application of Iran sanctions. Please tell us your thoughts on the necessity of Iranian crude oil for Japan and the outlook for its future imports.

A: Iran is one of the world's leading oil producers, and for Japan, which relies almost entirely on imports from overseas, its relation with Iran is important.
Regarding the US sanctions against Iran, I would like to refrain from making comments on the ongoing affairs of other states. At any rate, Japan will continue to hold close consultations with all stakeholders so that the measures taken by the US will not adversely affect the stable supply of energy and the activities of Japanese companies.

Last updated:2019-04-19