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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

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

8:34-8:40 a.m.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
In front of the Cabinet Room, 2nd floor,
National Diet Building

Opening Remarks

Soaring Oil Product Prices

Good morning.
To start off, I would like to say one thing about the operation to respond to sudden fluctuations in oil product prices.
The national average price of regular gasoline hit 170.2 yen at the time of a survey conducted yesterday the 24th, which exceeded the 170-yen threshold set to trigger the said operation. The 0.2 yen that exceeded the threshold will be added to this week's 3.2-yen expected rise in crude oil prices. As a result, a subsidy of 3.4 yen per liter will be provided to major oil distributors for reducing the prices of gasoline, diesel oil, kerosene and heavy fuel oil starting this coming Thursday, January 27 when they are to revise their wholesale prices.
Although oil product prices differ by region, I expect that this operation will be able to suppress wholesale price increases and curb further rapid price increases in each region.
The staff in charge will provide you with further details later, so feel free to ask any questions.
That is all.

Question-and-Answer Session

Japan-US Summit Meeting

Q: Within the Japan-US Summit online discussions, the two leaders agreed to launch the Economic 2+2. I would like to ask about the developments that have led up to this agreement and about the schedule moving forward, including the timing of the first meeting.
Also, the Japan-U.S. Commercial and Industrial Partnership and the Japan-U.S. Partnership on Trade were both established last year. What is different between those two and the Economic 2+2?

A: I understand that at the Japan-US summit meeting on the 21st, the two leaders agreed to launch the so-called Economic 2+2.
The meeting schedule will be decided between Japan and the US moving forward.
As economic and foreign policy boundaries are disappearing, I am hoping to have high-level discussions on a wide range of issues from a strategic perspective in the Economic 2+2. This includes furthering the Japan-US core partnership to cooperate on innovation and climate change countermeasures, and securing rule-based economic order in the Indo-Pacific region.
I want to accelerate Japan-US cooperation in each framework so that it will be synergistic with the existing ones you mentioned.

Soaring Oil Product Prices

Q: I would like to ask about gasoline prices. The upper limit is 5 yen, but the current and initial subsidy is already 3 yen. As a 5-yen subsidy may become a reality soon, are there any plans to consider additional measures going forward?

A: As I said previously, this system is funded by a supplementary budget and valid until March. I thus believe we need to conduct reasonable simulations considering various circumstances, such as crude oil prices rising sharply beyond the start of the new fiscal year. So, while the current system was created with a 5-yen upper limit, I want to continue considering various options to be able to minimize the impacts on citizens' lives.

Q: My question is also about gasoline prices. Wholesale price changes will go into effect on Thursday, the 27th, but when do you expect this change to be reflected in retail prices?

A: Each retailer's stock situation is different. But we have explained this system in detail since last year, and I believe it is understood by those in the industry. Some retailers may not shift to new pricing until their old stock has been used. Having said that, I believe that there are also retailers who will shift their pricing immediately as they understand the idea of responding to these fluctuations to mitigate citizens' anxieties about their lives.
Also, as I have been saying, a unform price reduction cannot be expected. Regional characteristics will likely be involved. While there may be some areas where it is difficult to lower prices, I would like to ask the operators of petrol stations to do their best so that these changes can be reflected in their retail prices as soon as possible.

Last updated:2022-02-17