- Press Conferences and Statements
- Press Conferences
- Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)
*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, March 11, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Great East Japan Earthquake
It has been eleven years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and I would like to again express my deepest condolences for the lives that were lost, and my heartfelt sympathy to those who were affected by the disaster from the bottom of my heart.
The most important issues for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are reconstructing Fukushima and setting measures for decommissioning, contaminated water, and treated water at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
The decommissioning of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is a difficult task that is unprecedented in the history of the world. Nonetheless, the Government of Japan is exercising leadership and making safe and steady progress, aiming at completion of decommissioning between 2041 and 2051.
Regarding the handling of the ALPS treated water, we take thorough measures to widely educate the public regarding its safety, provide people with peace of mind, and guard against reputational damage, while cooperating with the IAEA review mission.
Regarding the Restricted Areas, we are advancing initiatives for lifting evacuation orders in Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Base Areas starting this spring. In addition, we are advancing plans to allow evacuees to return to their homes in area other than the base areas before 2030 if they wish to do so.
Furthermore, we are working toward rebuilding the businesses and livelihoods of the people that suffered from the disaster, promoting the Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework, and increasing population exchanges in the region, all of which will lead to a full reconstruction of Fukushima.
We will continue to make every effort and work closely with everyone affected by the disaster in order to bring a full recovery to the region even one day sooner.
The Situation in Ukraine
In response to the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Japanese government has expressed its policy of imposing strong sanctions against Russia, Belarus and others, in cooperation with the international community and with the approvals of the Cabinet.
In response to this, a Cabinet decision was made today on the revision of the Export Trade Control Order, which will be promulgated on this date and come into effect on the 18th in accordance with the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act. As a result, bans will be imposed on exports to Russia and Belarus of goods subject to the multilateral export control regimes, exports to military-related organizations in both countries, exports of general-purpose goods that may contribute to strengthening their military capabilities, exports to Russia of items used for refining oil, and exports to the so-called Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.
Regarding the technical details, a Ministerial Ordinance and notices will be promulgated at the beginning of next week. The provision of technology related to the aforementioned items will also be prohibited. All the measures are scheduled to take effect on the 18th. Our administrative staff will explain the details next week.
We will continue to make every effort to resolve this issue in cooperation with the international community while monitoring the situation surrounding Ukraine.
Restart of Nuclear Power Stations
Q: First, in relation to the situation in Ukraine,
I would like to ask about your thoughts on restarting nuclear power stations.
Energy prices have surged due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but Japan has no surplus energy for power generation, since it is releasing oil stocks and diverting LNG to other countries. Yesterday, a parliamentary group in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) compiled a proposal that calls for the early restart and emergency restart of nuclear power plants.
As the Minister responsible for nuclear power, I would like to ask how you are handling this situation where existing nuclear power plants currently out of operation are not being restarted, and if you are considering making the restart process smoother.
From the viewpoint of ensuring a stable power supply, it is important to steadily promote the restart of nuclear power with ensuring safety as our fundamental premise. Accordingly, the government is determined to stand at the forefront and make firm and tenacious efforts to gain the understanding of the stakeholders including local governments. With regard to the related industries, we will encourage business operators to cooperate with each other and address safety examinations in a proper manner.
The government's policy remains unchanged. Safety is to be given top priority over all other considerations, and restart is to be advanced with the understanding of the locals, only when the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which has a high degree of independence, recognizes that a power plant meets the new regulatory standards, which are the strictest in the world.
Q: Nuclear power stations in Ukraine have been seized by Russia during the invasion. I think there were cases in which the external power supply was interrupted, or the IAEA was temporarily unable to monitor them. I think there was a question related to this at a press conference. I believe the level of the monitoring resolution is somewhat clearer than it was at that time. What kind of action do you intend to take for nuclear power stations in Japan in the future?
A: First, I would like to clearly condemn the attack by the Russian army against nuclear power stations as a violation of international law.
Responses to armed attacks on nuclear power stations in Japan are to be handled not only by the stations in terms of their facilities, which are regulated by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, or the business operators, but rather in cooperation with related ministries and agencies and other organizations.
Specifically, based on the situation, the government will take prompt and precise measures such as issuing alerts and evacuating residents in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, such as those related to the Civil Protection Law and the Civil Protection Plan. In parallel, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will order operators to shut down nuclear power stations in accordance with those relevant laws, regulations, and plans.
In addition, if there is a missile attack against Japan—not limited to nuclear power stations—we will deal with it with a multi-layered defense using interceptor missiles in both high and low altitudes. In addition, in anticipation of various events, related organizations are always working together to conduct civil protection drills and other measures in order to protect the safety of the people.
Soaring Crude Oil Prices
Q: I have one question regarding oil. The UAE announced yesterday that it would endorse production increase and called on OPEC members to increase production levels. Please update us on the current status of Japan's efforts to urge oil producing countries, and tell us what expectations you have of OPEC+.
A: I am aware that the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States has issued a statement.
Crude oil prices, which were already high, are continuing on an increasingly upward trend due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and there are concerns about the impact it will have on corporate activity and daily life.
I understand that the next OPEC+ Ministerial Meeting will be held on March 31, and I expect that there will be discussions on ensuring the stability of the international crude oil market, with the current price surge taken into consideration.
Japan has continued to urge the UAE and other oil producing countries. We are still doing so, and we would like to welcome this move by the UAE as a certain success in our approach to oil producing countries in cooperation with like-minded countries based on the recent IEA Ministerial Meeting.
At the G7 Extraordinary Energy Ministers' Meeting yesterday, the G7 agreed to cooperate to stabilize the crude oil market and to call on oil and gas producing countries to increase production capacity and deliveries. We will continue to address this firmly in cooperation with major consumer countries and the IEA.