*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Press Conference Room, METI
Establishment of Funds through Economic Stimulus Package
Q: The economic stimulus package will be decided this evening. I understand that the Green Fund of 2 trillion yen will also be included in the measures, and the Prime Minister says that he wants “greening” and “digitalization” to be the source of growth. Would you explain to us about the contents and significance of the Fund for carbon neutrality by 2050?
A: Setting the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 is significantly ahead of the existing government policy, which aims at early implementation as soon as possible in the second half of the century. It will be necessary to greatly accelerate the current efforts. To achieve this, I believe it is essential to reform the energy sector, which accounts for the majority of CO2 emissions, and to restructure the manufacturing industry and other industries.
Therefore, in addition to the existing initiatives, we have established a fund of 2 trillion yen in this supplementary budget. I believe that we need to continuously provide support over the next 10 years for technological developments and public implementation in priority areas such as electrification, greening of electricity, hydrogen, and CCS/CCU.
We would like to induce private companies to invest in R&D and facilities by using the government's 2 trillion-yen fund as a springboard and move toward ambitious innovation. We would also like to attract environment-related funds of 3,000 trillion yen worldwide, which we hope will help strengthen Japan's international competitiveness and create future income and jobs.
I think that “greening” and “digitalization” are the two pillars of the future economy. Digitalization is important and required to advance greening of electricity, and digitalization requires electric power. “Greening” will also be very important in that sense. We will pursue capital investment and R&D in the context of our growth strategy including such “greening” and “digitalization” factors.
Utilization of Hydrogen
Q: I would like to ask about hydrogen. Yesterday, a promotion association was established with the participation of private companies. How will the government work on the expansion of the introduction of hydrogen? There were reports that you are aiming for 10 million tons by 2030 in the action plan to be complied at the end of the year. Would you explain to us about it?
A: We consider hydrogen to be a very important factor. We recognize that it is an energy that can contribute to decarbonization in various fields such as power generation, transportation, and manufacturing, and that it is indispensable for realizing carbon neutrality.
Therefore, we believe that it is important to promote the use of hydrogen in a wide range of fields. For instance, in addition to the conventional use in FCVs and passenger vehicles, we will position hydrogen as a new power source, as well as pursue decarbonization by utilizing hydrogen in the manufacturing sector where certain tasks cannot be addressed by electrification.
In that sense, we welcome the establishment of the Japan Hydrogen Association, with the participation of approximately 90 companies from a wide range of fields, including electricity, transport, manufacturing, and logistics. The first meeting was held yesterday which I also attended.
We are looking forward to its proactive activities as a front runner in expanding the use of hydrogen and accelerating the public implementation of hydrogen. METI is considering effective use of the 2 trillion-yen fund recently announced by the Prime Minister, as well as the utilization of various policy tools, including institutional development of regulatory reforms and international standardization regarding hydrogen fueling stations, and will work on formulating an action plan that incorporates them.
We will expand both supply and demand dramatically, which will lead to lower costs and further widen demand, so the government would like to provide sufficient support in collaboration with the Association in this regard.
Q: Regarding the ALPS-treated water at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, it has been about a month and a half since the Team meeting. I would like to ask how the progress of the consultation between relevant ministries and agencies has since been made, and what are your thoughts on the timing of the decision of the government's policy at the moment?
A: The exchanges between ministries and agencies at the previous Team meeting are still ongoing. I think that we will move ahead with what needs to be done, and we are also currently engaged in activities to gain as much understanding as possible from the people concerned. Under these circumstances, we would like to make judgments at the right time, and will responsibly make decisions.