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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

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

11:28-11:38 a.m.
Friday, December 24, 2021
Press Conference Room, METI

Question-and-Answer Session

Initial Budget Draft for FY2022

Q: The initial budget for the next fiscal year was just approved by the Cabinet. Can you tell us your thoughts on the outcome and what you aim to achieve with the budget?

A: The initial budget for FY2022 has been approved at the Cabinet meeting. 1,225.7 billion yen has been budgeted for METI-related projects with a focus on priority policy issues such as support for economic recovery, green, digital, economic security, and innovation.
In particular, I personally negotiated with the Minister of Finance to secure 99.4 billion yen for supporting social implementation of hydrogen- and ammonia-related technologies for carbon neutrality, and 65.9 billion yen for promoting cybersecurity measures and R&D related to digital infrastructure development to realize the Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation. The former is up by 4.7 billion yen and the latter by 10.1 billion yen from this fiscal year’s budget.
In addition to the swift implementation of the supplementary budget for this fiscal year, which was established on the 20th, I hope that the Ordinary Diet will pass the budget soon so that we can speedily deliver to the people the benefits of the new form of capitalism through a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution.

Business and Human Rights

Q: The United States passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which prohibits imports of goods from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China as a general rule. What impact do you think it will have on Japanese companies, and what kind of actions is METI considering for affected companies?

A: I am aware that on December 23 U.S. time, President Biden signed and enacted the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the provisions of which include a ban on imports of goods produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as a general rule.
I understand that the details of the scheme will be revealed later, such as listing of organizations involved in forced labor in the region as well as goods that are subject to strict control by priority. Therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting on the impact on Japanese companies at the moment.
METI will continue to collect and provide necessary information, and will respond appropriately to individual circumstances to ensure the legitimate economic activities of Japanese companies.

Measures against Potential Disasters at Nuclear Power Plants

Q: On December 21, the Cabinet Office announced the possible damage from a mega earthquake in the Chishima and Japan trenches.
It estimates that if a magnitude 9-class earthquake occurs along these trenches, as many as 199,000 people could die in the Pacific coast areas like Tohoku and Hokkaido, which means the damage will far exceed that of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
However, there are 12 nuclear power plants that would be affected by a tsunami of 3 meters or taller caused by such earthquakes, including the Oma Nuclear Power Plant, which is under construction. Despite that fact, the announcement does not assess the impact of a nuclear power plant accident, such as the number of victims or amount of economic losses. The Prime Minister gave no explanation at the press conference on the 21st, nor did the press ask any questions.
Simulating and taking action on such nuclear accidents should be an urgent issue. Please tell us what you are going to do.

A: I have been told by each operator that, based on the published materials so far, they expect to be able to manage with existing measures, such as tide embankments, and other actions planned for the future.
Operators are naturally expected to continue making every effort to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants under the supervision of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Judging from your question, I believe you doubt that any measures are being taken. However, we have received reports that their measures met certain requirements based on this simulation, such as the height of the tide embankments. Therefore, each operator can decide themselves what measures to take. Based on such circumstances, I understand that there is no cause for concern at the moment, on the premise that the operators must take further measures as necessary.

Last updated:2022-01-05