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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

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

9:38-9:45 a.m.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
In front of the Cabinet Room, 2nd floor,
National Diet Building

Soaring Natural Resource Prices

Q: I would like to ask about the rising prices of natural resources. Yesterday, crude oil futures hit their highest level in three years, and other natural resource prices are also soaring. There are concerns about how this will affect people's everyday lives. How do you see the current situation, and what action are you going to take?

A: Natural resource prices fluctuate depending on various factors, including the exchange rate and the international balance of supply and demand. For example, crude oil prices are affected by factors such as coordinated production cuts by oil-producing countries and the recovery in global demand with the COVID-19 pandemic passing its peak.
Generally speaking, any rise in their prices will mean higher costs and lower profits for companies as a result of increases in the prices of petroleum products, electricity, gas, and so on. As I said in the last conference, I will keep a close eye on international trends in energy use, including crude oil price trends, and monitor their impact on our national economy.

Advanced Semiconductors

Q: I have heard that Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC is considering building a factory in Kumamoto. How is METI involved in this project, for example, in terms of coordinating with the company? And if the plan comes to fruition, what do you expect from it? I have also heard that the Japanese government is going to provide financial assistance. How are you going to work with TSMC going forward?

A: First of all, I am aware of the news, but it is a matter that concerns individual companies, so I will refrain from making any specific comments.
Generally speaking, semiconductors are indispensable for all industries, and I believe it is extremely important to have a manufacturing base for advanced semiconductors in Japan in order to enhance our supply chain resilience and industrial competitiveness.
In light of the Strategy for Semiconductors and the Digital Industry and the Growth Strategy Action Plan approved by the Cabinet last June, METI is committed to building a stable supply system for semiconductors, including having domestic manufacturing bases for advanced semiconductors.
In addition, the government is considering various options toward formulating a concrete plan. Therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting at this stage about any concrete support measures regarding the matter.

Q: I also have a question about semiconductors. I would like to ask you about the news that U.S.-based Western Digital is negotiating a merger with its Japanese rival Kioxia.
Do you think the merger can be allowed in relation to the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act, economic security, or national policy on semiconductors?

A: I am aware of the news, but this is also a matter that concerns individual companies, which have not made official announcements regarding the matter. I will therefore refrain from making any specific comments.
Generally speaking, when foreign investors want to invest in Japanese companies that own semiconductors or similar businesses, they are required to submit a notification under the FEFTA. The government then examines their applications fairly in accordance with the FEFTA with regard to matters like whether they could compromise national security. With the world becoming more and more digital, semiconductors have become increasingly important from the viewpoint of economic security and supply chain resilience for industry as a whole. I will therefore monitor future developments very closely.

Last updated:2021-11-01