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- Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Press Conference Room, METI
Thoughts on the Resignation en Masse
To start off, I would like to say two things.
First, the cabinet's resignation en masse was decided at the cabinet meeting earlier.
Since my appointment this October, I have been involved in a variety of jobs, such as the visit to Fukushima immediately after taking office, a cabinet decision on the Strategic Energy Plan, a response to the rise in crude oil prices, a visit to Aomori where core nuclear fuel cycle facilities are located, a G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting, meetings with USTR Tai and Secretary of Commerce Raimondo, the APEC Ministerial Meeting, and more. It was a very short period of time, but it was an honor.
I have also been pursuing discussions on economic measures and concrete policies to establish a new form of capitalism by, for example, giving myself opportunities to talk directly with executives of SMEs.
There are still a lot of tasks to be done, but if I were to be re-appointed, I will continue to work hard.
Meeting with Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy
Second, the day before yesterday, on Monday the 8th, I held a video conference with H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy. We have been working closely with Saudi Arabia to achieve a stable supply of crude oil and energy transition through hydrogen and ammonia. I would like to continue building a trusting relationship between myself and Minister Abdulaziz and firmly strengthen the bilateral relationship.
That is all from me.
Q: You have submitted your resignation today. Thank you for all your work up to now.
Yesterday, TSMC in Taiwan officially announced that it would build a semiconductor plant in Kumamoto. Please tell us your honest thoughts on this matter. Also, please give us specific details about what kind of strategies METI is envisioning to promote future construction of semiconductor manufacturing plants in Japan.
A: I would like to frankly welcome TSMC's institutional decision to invest in an advanced semiconductor plant in Japan.
With digitalization progressing rapidly, 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 investment in a manufacturing base announced by TSMC will fill in some of Japan's missing pieces.
We seek to promptly establish a framework to secure the necessary budget and provide support for the next several years, while taking economic measures comparable with other countries, with the goal of securing a foundation for domestic production of advanced semiconductors.
In addition, regarding the development of manufacturing bases, we will develop a comprehensive environment through efforts like securing engineers locally, at the same time giving consideration to connections with local industry and universities, and promoting cooperation with research institutions, producers of manufacturing equipment and materials, and other organizations.
There are some reports that we are only assisting this company in Kumamoto, but that is not true. We will provide wide support to the semiconductor infrastructure in Japan, so I would appreciate your understanding of our position.
Q: I have a question in relation to COP26. The British government has just issued a declaration that new vehicle sales in leading markets should be limited to EVs and FCVs by 2035. It seems Japan is not among the signatories. Could you tell us why?
A: We recognize that reducing CO2 in the automotive sector is an important issue to tackle worldwide in order to achieve carbon neutrality. At COP26, they have dedicated November 10 in the UK time as Transport Day, and will carry out various programs in addition to the statement you have mentioned, including a ministerial-level meeting.
I will not comment at this point in time on how we will respond to each of those policies. However, as Prime Minister Kishida already mentioned in his speech at COP26, in order to make vehicles carbon neutral, we believe it is important to pursue a variety of technological options, developing next-generation batteries, motors, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and so on. We will spread the results of that innovation throughout Asia beyond Japan, and lead the world.
Japan has been actively participating in discussions in line with these policies, and we will continue to work together with other countries around the world.
Again, the Japanese government has publicly stated that we need a variety of technological options. Therefore, we did not join this commitment to making new vehicles for sale 100% electrified.
At the same time, as I have been mentioning before, being surrounded by sea, Japan, unlike many European countries, is not in a situation where it can flexibly share renewable energy with its neighbors. I believe it is necessary to take the best measures, taking into consideration the regional characteristics and various circumstances of each country, so I do not think that Japan takes a negative attitude against the trend.
Q: Regarding semiconductors, you said earlier that you would provide wide support for semiconductor-related businesses in Japan. In the strategy that the Council for New Form of Capitalism Realization launched the other day, there is a mention of "supporting capital investment for renovation and enhancement of semiconductor manufacturing plants in Japan." What do you think the specific scale and method of support measures will be?
A: First of all, we need to create a law that provides the basis for the support, so we are working on that now. In addition, there are various reports on the scale of the financial assistance, but this also needs to be discussed with the fiscal authorities.
It just so happens that TSMC's tie-up with Sony in Kumamoto is getting a lot of attention this time. We believe that their plant will be necessary to fill in some of the missing pieces in Japan that we could not up until now. We also think that existing semiconductor makers in Japan—although their products vary—need to expand into new structures. In that sense, it is misleading to assume that we are just supporting particular businesses. As a national policy, we should be able to produce various types of semiconductors domestically and ensure a stable supply to domestic businesses. This is an extremely important policy from an economic security viewpoint as well. In this context, we will discuss, at expert meetings and other opportunities, what kind of support we should provide to existing companies and regions that are taking on new challenges. We intend to establish a meeting to listen to various stakeholders’ opinions. We plan to hold next week a meeting of the “Semiconductor and Digital Industry Strategy Review Conference” comprised of experts from industry and academia. Based on the urgent proposal compiled at the Council for New Form of Capitalism Realization the other day, we hope to discuss matters in order to develop concrete details on policy measures firmly and intensively.