*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
In front of the Cabinet Room, 2nd floor,
National Diet Building
The Situation in UkraineQ: I would like to ask about two points.
First, the United States Secretary of State Blinken said that he is discussing with allies a ban on oil import from Russia. Please tell us about the status of the Japanese government's consideration and the impact it will have on the stable energy supply.
Secondly, strengthening economic sanctions may make it difficult to secure rare metals such as palladium, which is used to reduce automobile emissions. Please tell us about the impact it will have on Japanese companies and the Japanese economy, and about measures to address it.
A: I am aware of the news regarding the US embargo on Russian oil, but I have not yet heard if it has been officially decided.
As international efforts to strengthen sanctions on Russia continue, Japan intends to respond appropriately in cooperation with the G7 while prioritizing a stable energy supply and energy security as the national interests to be protected to the maximum extent possible.
METI will also monitor very carefully the potential impact that economic sanctions on Russia may have on the Japanese economy.
I have not heard whether there is any significant impact on the production from major companies at this time, given that they have a certain amount of stocks of rare resources such as palladium—which you mentioned—and neon, and that those materials imported from Russia can also be procured from other countries. Regarding energy, we have oil stocks equivalent to about 240 days of our requirements, and we will also promptly release our stocks as part of the collective release of 60 million barrels as agreed upon by the IEA.
In addition, power and gas companies hold stocks of LNG satisfying two to three weeks’ requirements of LNG. We will continue to make every effort to ensure a stable energy supply while considering every possibility.
We do not have any immediate concerns at this point in time, but the situation is changing moment by moment, so we will stay vigilant at all times and monitor the situation while listening carefully to industry.
Q: I would like to ask you about the security of nuclear power.
The attack by Russia against the nuclear power station in Ukraine has caused security risks to surface in addition to risks associated with natural disasters. What impact do you think it will have on future nuclear energy policies?
A: The attack by Russia on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station on March 4 is an impermissible act of violence. As a nation that has experienced the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, Japan condemns it in the strongest terms. We will continue to cooperate with relevant ministries and agencies and strongly urge Russia to immediately halt all combat operations, including attacks on nuclear power generation facilities in Ukraine.
Based on this experience, we will firmly address the security of nuclear power plants in Japan at a high level.
Q: On the 7th, Russia issued a list of non-friendly countries that included Japan. According to its content, it is possible to pay debts in rubles, which would invalidate economic sanctions in a sense. Please tell us how the Japanese government will approach this to help Japanese companies stay in business in these circumstances, or if you have decided how you will address this situation.
A: In essence, we have not made any decisions. However, as we support enforcing economic sanctions, we need to consider that Russia may designate us as a non-cooperative nation or put sanctions on us in retaliation in the future. In such a case, we are quietly preparing a safety net to prevent adverse effects on companies doing business with Russia. Currently, I do not think there will be any immediate impact, but this is another matter that we must monitor.