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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

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

11:18-11:31 a.m.
Friday, November 5, 2021
Press Conference Room, METI

Question-and-Answer Session


Q: My question is about COP26.
On the 4th of this month, I understand that an ambitious statement was made by the chair country on the theme of energy. Countries and organizations, including Vietnam to which Japan exports coal-fired power plants, have endorsed this statement. Can you give us your thoughts on it?

A: I understand that a statement regarding global transition from coal to clean electricity was made at COP26 yesterday, and that it included abolishing construction of new coal-fired power generation facilities for which emission reduction measures have not been taken. The situation surrounding energy is different from country to country. Surrounded by sea and with scarce resources, Japan does not have a single perfect energy source that meets S+3E. This makes it important to use diverse sources of energy in a balanced manner. For this reason, Japan does not endorse this statement.
That being said, in this June's G7 Summit Communiqué, it committed itself to putting an end within the year to new official international direct assistance for coal-fired power generation for which emission reduction measures have not been taken. I want to implement that going forward.


Q: My question is about RCEP.
I would first like to ask for your thoughts on the decision to bring it into force on January 1 next year. Amid ongoing confrontation with the US, China's presence in the Asia-Pacific trade sector is growing. For example, it has also applied to join the TPP. Can you also give us your thoughts on how Japan will respond to this?

A: We welcome the decision to bring the RCEP Agreement into force on January 1, 2022.
RCEP is an agreement that will cover 30% of the world's population, GDP, and trade volume, establish rules that will contribute to building a free, fair economic order between 15 countries in the region, and is expected to contribute to Japan's economic growth.
For example, tariffs have been eliminated on 92% of the industrial products overall in the 14 countries covered. In particular, for our first EPA partners, namely China and South Korea, the proportion of tariff-free items exported from Japan will ultimately increase from 8% to 86% for China and from 19% to 92% for Korea. Consequently, exports can be expected to expand for manufacturing and a wide range of other fields, and particularly for parts and materials.
In addition, it will be the first time China and some ASEAN countries promise under an EPA to prohibit technology transfer requests and protect well-known trademarks. Through rules like this, the agreement is expected to provide a more transparent and predictable business environment for Japanese companies that enter the countries concerned.
With a view toward the smooth operation of the RCEP Agreement and its steady implementation by all the countries, I want to continue to work closely with them to ensure that it is widely and thoroughly understood, so that Japanese companies, including SMEs, can get the maximum benefits from it.
The RCEP Agreement will prohibit the participating countries from requesting technology transfers and introduce other common rules such as to protect intellectual property. Also, in the event that a problem is found with the performance of the agreement, it will be possible to call for appropriate performance and compliance together with the countries concerned. Therefore, it is not expected to expand the influence of certain countries.
Based on that, I want Japan to first make use of the RCEP and CPTPP Agreements in the trade sector, to build a free, fair economic order in the region.
I also want to work on forming a new rules-based international order by, for example, promoting international rule-making regarding the digital economy and addressing market-distorting measures that obstruct fair international competition between companies.

Additional Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Products

Q: There are reports that US Secretary of Commerce Raimondo has said she wants to eliminate additional tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum products. I would like to ask for your thoughts on this, and how you intend to respond to it going forward.

A: I held my first telephone meeting with US Secretary of Commerce Raimondo at 7:00 a.m. today.
In the meeting, we exchanged views on cooperation toward strengthening our two countries' industrial competitiveness and on making our supply chains more resilient. I also strongly called for a solution to the issue of additional tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum products based on Section 232 of the US's Trade Expansion Act. We agreed to continue to exchange views on shared matters of interest in the future, so I would like to continue discussing with her.
I was aware of the press reports before the meeting. I felt that she understood what Japan is asking for and its domestic situation in a variety of ways. I therefore want to discuss matters with her thoroughly going forward, on the basis of mutual trust.

Last updated:2021-11-24