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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.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Press Conference Room, METI
Committee on New Direction of Economic and Industrial Policies
I would like to bring up one point to start.
METI will establish a Committee on New Direction of Economic and Industrial Policies under the Industrial Structure Council and hold its first meeting on Friday, November 19.
Given the facts that governments play an increasingly important role in solving global social issues, and that the growth potential of the Japanese economy and the international competitiveness of Japanese companies have been sluggish in the past 30 years, the committee will dramatically review our current policies toward formulating new fundamental policies.
Specific discussion points include how to actively implement policies to address social issues such as making society green and digital, and achieving economic security. The committee will also discuss approaches to the management reforms of Japanese companies, the creation of internationally competitive start-ups, and human resource development in light of changes in the industrial structure and working practices.
Please contact the secretariat for more information.
That is all from me.
Q: I have two questions.
The first is about COP26.
The outcome document mentioned phasing down coal-fired power. Please tell us what you think of the outcome document, in light of that point.
A: I understand that the COP26 outcome document included the commitment to keep the 1.5°C goal maintained, and accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of coal-fired power generation with no emission-reduction measures taken. Japan is also determined to steadily decarbonize itself.
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.
I think many countries share the same goal of creating a decarbonized society. However, as I always mention, there is a difference in the ways we proceed, and we believe that a practical approach to decarbonization, based on the different circumstances of each country, will lead to effective global climate action.
For this reason, Japan will steadily advance policies based on the Strategic Energy Plan, including phasing out inefficient coal-fired power plants toward 2030, on the fundamental premise that we ensure a stable energy supply. We will continue to promote hydrogen, ammonia, CCUS, and other innovations to help us decarbonize by 2050.
Additional Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Products
Q: You had a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and agreed with her to start talks to resolve the issue of additional tariffs on steel and aluminum products. What are your opinions on it?
A: I had a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo yesterday. We have agreed to initiate talks to resolve the issue of additional tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum products that is based on Section 232 of the U.S.'s Trade Expansion Act.
I strongly requested an early resolution on terms that are not inferior to those applied to the EU or other countries, and I also firmly expressed Japan's intention to fully resolve this in a manner consistent with the WTO agreements. I intend to negotiate with them to promptly move toward an early resolution of this issue.
Q: One question in relation to the additional tariffs. Regarding future negotiations, what are the prospects and directions: full or partial abolition? Please tell us your opinions.
A: In the meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo yesterday, we just agreed to initiate talks to resolve the additional tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum products based on Section 232 of the U.S.'s Trade Expansion Act. I will refrain from speculating on the outlook of future talks. However, Japan still intends to fully resolve this in a manner consistent with the WTO agreements. I would like to promptly discuss the matter to move toward an early resolution of this issue. In fact, we started talks yesterday, with both of us instructing our staff on the spot. We hope to deliver results as soon as possible.
Q: Last week it was reported that USTR Tai showed reluctance toward rejoining the TPP. Other reports say that she hinted the country's intention to create a new framework for economic partnership if China is joining the TPP. Please tell us your opinions regarding this matter in light of the TPP. Again, does Japan still expect the U.S. to rejoin the TPP?
A: I am not aware what USTR Tai is saying publicly, but the Japanese government have consistently communicated that we would like the U.S. to return to the TPP. Our position on this remains the same.
Q: The other day, Toshiba's third-party committee submitted a report in relation to the allegation that Toshiba and METI together put pressure on the management of Toshiba's general meeting of shareholders. The report suggested that Toshiba's conduct was not illegal but was against corporate ethics. METI is one of the parties involved in this issue, so please tell us your thoughts on it.
A: I am aware that a report by Toshiba's Governance Enhancement Committee has been released. I would like to refrain from commenting on reports from individual companies. But in general, I believe that METI needs to closely monitor companies with important security-related technologies to prevent any stagnation of investment in business and technology caused by the instability of the management environment.
This report was written by outside lawyers for a private company in the first place, and their comments are not addressed to us, so it is very difficult for us to provide any thoughts on them. In any case, however, there is no doubt that Toshiba is a company that possesses important security-related technologies in nuclear power and semiconductors, among other fields.
Against this background, METI's action was intended to help ensure stable development of the important businesses and technologies that Toshiba possesses. I do not believe it is unreasonable as a METI policy.