*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, February 4, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Response to the Situation in Ukraine
Q: There are some reports that the Biden administration is requesting major Asian importers of natural gas, such as Japan and South Korea, to consider whether they can divert their LNG cargoes to Europe in an emergency. Has there really been such a request? I believe that the departments in charge are considering all possible circumstances at all times. Please tell us specifically what Japan can do.
A: First of all, I would like to refrain from commenting on diplomatic dialogs.
Since the situation in Ukraine has a significant potential impact from the viewpoint of Japan's stable energy supply, I want to continue to closely monitor the situation in cooperation with the relevant ministries and agencies.
Since Japan began importing LNG about 50 years ago, Japan has been leading the development of the LNG market as one of the world's largest importers. In addition, in 2012, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, we inaugurated the LNG Producer-Consumer Conference to promote dialog between producer and consumer countries and create a win-win market for both sides. From this perspective, I want to consider what kinds of contributions we can generally make to the international community in the future.
Q: Starting February 1, METI started a call for companies endorsing the GX League concept. Please tell us your expectations and comments regarding the decarbonization efforts and creation of new markets through this policy and your thoughts on the influence that these companies will have.
A: On February 1, we announced the basic concept of the GX League, in which companies with ambitious carbon reduction goals voluntarily conduct emissions trading, and opened a call for companies who endorse the concept.
The GX League will be a framework for companies that aim for carbon neutrality to create new markets and exert their competitiveness in the international business by driving the transformation of the entire economic and social systems through discussion and practice. Therefore, in addition to voluntary emissions trading, we plan to support companies that contribute to reducing emissions in creating new businesses.
I hope that many companies will endorse the concept.
Response to the Situation in Ukraine
Q: There has been a mention about the diversion of LNG cargoes to Europe. Please tell us a little more specifically, rather than generally, about what kind of contributions Japan might make, if any.
A: As I mentioned briefly in an on-the-move interview yesterday, Japan is also an importer, and its domestic natural resources are in fact scarce. This winter is predicted to be very cold, and securing electricity and other energy is an issue in that sense. I would like to do something as long as it is within a scope that does not impact our citizens' lives.
Ideally, such a situation should be avoided, so I hope that diplomatic efforts continue, and I believe that Japan should join in those efforts wherever possible, in that sense.
Q: Does it mean that domestic supply is your top priority?
A: Of course.
Additional Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Products
Q: I would like to ask about the additional tariffs on steel and aluminum from the United States.
I think you met with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo last November and agreed to review them, but can you tell us about further negotiations after that?
A: Since last November, we have been continuing discussions with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and USTR Tai toward solving the problem you are speaking of.
I would like to refrain from making any comment on the progress at this time, but Japan still intends to fully resolve this in a manner consistent with the WTO agreements. I would like to expedite discussions toward an early resolution of this issue.