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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

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

11:15-11:25 a.m.
Friday, October 15, 2021
Press Conference Room, METI

Question-and-Answer Session

Advanced Semiconductors

Q: Recently, TSMC in Taiwan has announced that it is going to build a semiconductor plant in Japan. Please tell us your thoughts on the matter, and give us some details regarding the government's funds and schemes to support the project.

A: As Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, I frankly welcome TSMC's statement that it intends to invest in Japan. With the rapid progress of digitalization, semiconductors are used in many fields and are considered to be the brains of industry, so I think it is very important from a security standpoint to establish a stable supply system for them.
In particular, the establishment of the manufacturing base announced by TSMC will fill in some of the missing pieces of advanced semiconductor manufacturing in Japan. The government will give due consideration to appropriate provision of funds and support schemes for the project. METI will endeavor to promptly secure the necessary budget and establish a framework for several years of support, while taking economic measures comparable with other countries, with the goal of securing a foundation for domestic production of advanced semiconductors in light of the Growth Strategy Action Plan approved by the Cabinet in June.
In addition, regarding the development of manufacturing bases, we will create an ideal environment through comprehensive efforts toward securing local engineers, giving consideration to connections with local industry, universities and research institutions, and promoting cooperation with producers of manufacturing equipment and materials, and research institutions.

Nuclear Power Generation Policy

Q: As reported in the digital version of the October 12 issue of the Nikkei, Mr. Amari, the former Minister and current Secretary-General of the LDP, stated that he is considering replacing current nuclear power plants with SMRs. However, installing new reactors is not planned under the Strategic Energy Plan, and I think SMRs have not reached the social implementation phase yet. I would like to ask what your opinions are on those matters, and if you have any policy measures to implement in the future.

A: I am aware of the report you are speaking of.
First of all, the government's policy has not changed, and there are no plans to construct or replace any nuclear power plants at this time.
On the other hand, until recently, I held the post of MEXT Minister, and the government has been conducting a variety of research into effective applications of nuclear energy, not limited to nuclear power generation. Among these, the basic principle is that it is extremely important to continuously improve the safety of nuclear energy. The government has been constantly researching the development of new, safe technology, including the aforementioned small module reactors. I think it is necessary to continue supporting that research.
I hope to continue to firmly advance initiatives in both the public and private sectors to further improve safety.

Vehicle Electrification

Q: I would like to ask a question in relation to COP. As mentioned in the Prime Minister’s meeting yesterday, regarding the decarbonization of automobiles, the United Kingdom, for example, is considering eliminating the sale of gasoline-fueled vehicles including hybrids by 2040 and using only zero-emission cars.
Japan has plans to make all newly sold vehicles electrified by 2035. There are many differing opinions regarding whether hybrids should be classified as electrified vehicles. I would like to ask for your thoughts on that at this point in time.

A: I am aware that the United Kingdom, which will hold the presidency of COP26, is calling on countries and car manufacturers to make 100% of new vehicle sales electric or fuel cell vehicles. This applies to all sales in mature markets by 2035 and all global sales by 2040.
At present, matters are being coordinated with countries ahead of COP26, so I will refrain from providing details at this moment. However, our basic stance toward decarbonizing the Japanese automotive industry is that there are various options including electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and the use of synthetic fuels. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages, and I don't think there is a complete solution.
Therefore, I believe it is important to promote innovation and pursue a variety of options not limited to specific technologies. With this in mind, we have set a goal of making 100% of new passenger vehicle sales electrified vehicles by 2035, and will take comprehensive measures to achieve this.
I will advance measures based on Japan's consistent position while continuing dialogue with the concerned countries in international negotiations such as COP26 and contributing firmly to the global debate on this issue.

Last updated:2021-11-01