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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

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

10:55–11:19 a.m.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Press Conference Room, METI

Opening Remarks

On Being Appointed

I am Hagiuda Koichi, the newly appointed Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Thank you for coming.

First, some words from me. Prime Minister Kishida has appointed me Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Minister in Charge of Industrial Competitiveness, Minister for Economic Cooperation with Russia, Minister in Charge of the Response to the Economic Impact Caused by the Nuclear Accident, and Minister of State for the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation.

The Prime Minister has instructed me to spare no effort when it comes to recovery in Fukushima, decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and taking action on  contaminated and treated water—including making thorough preparations to prevent any reputational damage ahead of releasing the ALPS-treated water into the ocean. He has also instructed me to do the following: (1) work toward overcoming deflation based on three principles, namely, bold monetary policy, agile financial policy, and growth strategy; (2) take every measure to address the current serious economic situation caused by COVID-19 by mobilizing all government policies, including actively using the government's finances; (3) swiftly deliver necessary assistance for SMEs, etc. in particular in order to protect their employment and help them stay in business, and thoroughly support business reconstruction, improved productivity, business restructuring, and the growth of startups; (4) establish a new capitalism based on the concept of a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution and the development of a new post-COVID society; (5) consider additional tax support, particularly for companies that are actively working to raise their wages; (6) promote the digitalization of companies and the diversification, pluralization, and strengthening of supply chains, and ensure these developments contribute to strong economic growth; and (7) expand the free and fair economic zone, further strengthen the rule-based multilateral trading system, prepare for Expo 2025, Osaka, Kansai, Japan, and proceed with making concrete plans for Russo-Japanese economic cooperation. Other instructions I have been given include achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 in addition to making every effort to ensure a stable supply of energy; promoting maximal introduction of renewable energy; promoting energy conservation/improving energy efficiency; restarting nuclear power plants once their safety has been confirmed; and  working to support investment in new forms of clean energy.

During my two years as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, I promoted the establishment of a Japanese-style school education for the Reiwa era in partnership with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, working toward goals such as achieving the GIGA School Program as an investment for the future. Developing human resources and learning new skills will also contribute to industrial development. I also want to work on seamlessly creating an industrial environment conducive to the spread of investment in human resources and innovation, making use of my experience with MEXT, in the belief that new industries do not flourish without innovation.

On the basis of the instructions the Prime Minister has given me, I want to fulfill my responsibilities as Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to the utmost in these and all other matters, starting with the urgent issues at hand.

Thank you for your attention.

Question-and-Answer Session

Key Issues

Q: Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
There are two questions from the lead company.
What do you consider to be the key issues and themes for METI, what are your thoughts on how to address them, and how committed are you to doing so?

A: Policies on the economy, trade, and industry are wide ranging and the issues are very diverse, but I regard three as particularly urgent and critical: first, reviving the Japanese economy after the ravages of the pandemic; second, energy policy; and third, reconstruction of Fukushima.
The pandemic has been hitting SMEs hard, and I want to provide support to help them both stay in business and restructure their business. In addition to that, I also want to encourage positive investment by companies in the green, digital, resilience, and other fields where growth is expected—including investment in human resources that will lead to distribution—and establish a new economy that isn't bound by conventional preconceptions.
With regard to energy policy, I want to make steady progress toward achieving the new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with S+3E as the underlying premise.
Reconstruction of Fukushima is the most important issue for METI. I want to take full-scale action, including toward the government's policies on releasing ALPS-treated water into the ocean and lifting the evacuation orders in restricted areas where it's been difficult for people to return to their homes.

Nuclear Energy Policy

Q: I'd like to ask you another question.
Replacing nuclear power and the pros and cons of the nuclear fuel recycling policy became points of issue in the LDP presidential election, so I'd like to ask what you think about the nuclear energy policy in relation to these points. Also, what parts of the energy and nuclear energy policies do you think you as Minister intend to focus on, and what do you want to achieve in particular?

A: With regard to energy policy, I believe the highest priority is to pursue S+3E. With that as the underlying premise, Japan needs to make a concerted effort toward achieving the new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. I want to push forward with thoroughgoing energy conservation/efficiency improvement, maximal introduction of renewable energy, and restarting nuclear power plants with safety as the top priority.
With regard to nuclear energy policy, I want to press ahead firmly in line with the government's policies to date, including those on progressively restarting nuclear power plants with safety as the top priority, and with the understanding of the people in the regions and in Japan as a whole, and on those on continuing to promote the nuclear fuel cycle from the perspective of reducing the amount and harmfulness of high-level radioactive waste.

Strategic Energy Plan

Q: Gathering public comments for the Sixth Strategic Energy Plan has ended. With a view toward getting a Cabinet decision on it, can you please tell us how you as Minister think you should go about achieving it?

A: The discussions on the Strategic Energy Plan within the government have all finished, all the members of the ruling parties have also okayed it, and gathering public comments ended just yesterday. I want to consider how to handle the opinions from the public comments, then seek a Cabinet decision in time for the start of COP26 at the end of October. With 2030 now less than ten years away, I want to do my utmost to put the plan into action as soon as possible.

Last updated:2021-10-14