*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, February 18, 2022
In front of the Cabinet Room, 2nd floor,
National Diet Building
Trade Insurance Law
I would like to say one thing.
Today, a Cabinet Decision has been made on the Bill for Partial Revision of the Trade Insurance and Investment Act.
The bill will enhance the trade insurance system based on responses to COVID-19, supply chain resilience, and strengthening of international cooperation, in response to changes in the environment surrounding foreign trade by Japanese companies in order to further support their overseas development. We will make every effort to enact this bill as early as possible.
The staff in charge will explain the details later.
That is all.
Q: I have two questions.
The first question concerns the relationship with TSMC.
Recently, DENSO and other companies announced additional investments in TSMC's Kumamoto plant. The plant will be designed to make advanced semiconductors as small as 10 nanometers. Please give your opinions on how it will impact Japan's industry.
If TSMC applies for the plan with these additional investments, will it be eligible for subsidies? Also, these additional investments could become quite large, but will they be worth the money with positive effects expected? Please tell us your thoughts.
A: First, the government has not decided to provide assistance for manufacturing bases that TSMC plans to develop in Japan.
Based on that, the additional investments are expected to make it possible to supply semiconductors for products in a wider range of fields, and we welcome this. The original plan was to mainly make semiconductors that are 20 nanometers and larger, but since then, the government thought that it was necessary to develop further state-of-the-art semiconductors, which will now be realized. Again, I feel that we should welcome this.
I believe that this will contribute greatly to strengthening the supply chains surrounding Japan's industry, revitalizing and developing Japan's semiconductor-related industries, and progressing Japan's overall digitalization.
In the event that TSMC submits an application for approval—they have not submitted anything yet—if the plan as part of the overall scheme matches this policy, we will support it, including any additional investments, so we will review them carefully.
Business and Human Rights
Q: The second question is about human rights. At the previous press conference, you announced that you were considering formulating a guideline to prevent corporate abuse of human rights. In relation to this, will Japan join in the export controls and human rights initiatives proposed by the United States at the Summit for Democracy last December?
A: Japan, which possesses a variety of advanced technologies, intends to work closely with other countries that share basic values, including the United States and those in Europe, to consider responses to export controls based on future discussions.
There are similar questions in the Diet, but some are of the opinion that domestic law takes priority and the making thereof should be hastened. As I said, we must first properly develop a guideline for Japan. In addition, if there are different rules from country to country, there will be discrepancies. Therefore, we are cooperating with other countries to develop a platform, based on which we will consider domestic laws if necessary. We intend to participate in discussions when meetings are held between the countries concerned, including the United States, from the viewpoint of securing predictability without presumption.
Soaring Oil Product Prices
Q: Regarding the sale of national oil stockpiles, the second round was announced on the 16th. I would like to hear your thoughts on the status of considerations regarding the third round and the effects of this measure. In addition, there have been reports that there is a plan to increase the amount of oil sold in response to the rising crude oil prices. Please tell us about the situation.
A: The oil grade replacement is not intended to lower prices, but because it will increase the crude oil supply to a certain extent, it is expected to contribute to the stability of the international crude oil market as a result when combined with other measures, such as urging oil producing countries to increase their production.
Regarding the third round of oil sales for the replacement of oil grades, we will continue to follow the sale procedures when preparations are in place, such as public notices and tenders, in accordance with laws and regulations while closely monitoring developments in the international energy market.
In addition, Japan and the United States have had day-to-day dialogs on various issues. However, we must consider many aspects of the international situation, including the situation in Ukraine, so we have not made any prior consultations or decisions to sell boldly as you have mentioned.
Q: I would like to ask two questions about oil and gasoline.
First, further to the question which was raised earlier, I understand that the White House Press Secretary Psaki of the United States is discussing the release of reserves with consumer countries. You mentioned it earlier for my first question, but I would like to ask again about the status of considerations, and whether or not there are discussions.
For my other question, I understand that the LDP’s Policy Research Council Chairperson Takaichi spoke about subsidies to curb gasoline prices at a press conference, stating that it was possible to increase the subsidies to as high as 25 yen. This assumes the use of reserve funds, but please tell us about your thoughts on this.
A: First, Japan and the United States have had day-to day dialogs on various issues, but they are diplomatic exchanges, so I would like to refrain from giving details.
I understand that the party is also very concerned about the soaring crude oil prices, and that they are having various discussions in parallel. It is one proposal that has come out, but we have not heard any details at this stage. We will consider any concrete proposal from the party firmly.