*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
I would like to mention one thing.
On April 21, METI will inaugurate the Study Group on the Introduction and Management of Renewable Energy Generation Facilities jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and Ministry of the Environment.
In order to further spread the use of renewable energy toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and new GHG emission reduction targets for 2030, we must properly respond to concerns about disasters, environmental impacts, and illegal dumping of equipment, and proceed with projects on the basis of the understanding of the local communities.
Until now, municipal, prefectural, and national governments have individually enacted ordinances and strengthened ministerial regulations. However, it has become increasingly common to see problems after such projects begin development or operations. There are also some cases that require actions against violations of laws and ordinances. For this reason, the relevant ministries and agencies will conduct cross-divisional discussions on necessary institutional and operational responses, and quickly implement concrete measures.
Please ask the administrative staff for more information.
The Situation in Ukraine
Q: Regarding the situation in Ukraine, import bans on nearly 40 items, including alcoholic beverages and wood, will go into effect today. I would like to ask again about the impact they will have.
A: Based on the Cabinet's approval on April 12, the import of certain items from Russia—including alcoholic beverages, some wood, machinery, and electrical equipment—will be banned as of today, April 19.
We have discussed and decided to take this measure taking into account the impact on industries in Japan and possible alternative sources of energy, in addition to the strict sanctions against Russia already in place in cooperation with the international community including the G7. We will continue to monitor the impact of these measures.
In addition to these measures, there are concerns about the impact the situation in Ukraine will have on corporate activity and daily life, including the price surges of crude oil and other commodities. For this reason, we will thoroughly deliberate on possible emergency measures so we can respond flexibly to any impact on the citizens' lives and economic activity, based on the instructions given by Prime Minister Kishida.
Japan will continue to take appropriate measures in cooperation with the international community, including the G7.
ALPS Treated Water
Q: Last week, the Nuclear Regulation Authority generally approved the planned facilities for releasing the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. I believe this is the beginning of a process of prior understanding of a location agreement between TEPCO and the local governments. I understand that it is impossible to start building the facilities, let alone release the water, without the approval of the local governments. Considering the process until now, it may not be easy to gain the consent and understanding of the locals. What are your thoughts?
A: I am aware that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has almost completed its assessment of the implementation plan for TEPCO's release of the ALPS treated water. I understand that the Nuclear Regulatory Agency will prepare a draft of the assessment results and call for opinions, and I request that TEPCO continue to respond sincerely.
The government will continue making necessary preparations in line with the basic policy decided in April of last year so that we can begin releasing the water by spring of 2023. Specifically, the Nuclear Regulation Authority and the IAEA will strictly ensure its safety, and the government as a whole will repeatedly communicate its safety to fisheries and consumers in an easy-to-understand way to prevent reputational damage. Through these efforts, we will continue working to gain the understanding of the locals.
Q: I have a question about the TPP. The Government of the Republic of Korea has decided to join the TPP and announced on the 15th its plan to formally apply for it soon. Please give us your opinions on China, Taiwan, and now the ROK applying to join, and the challenges surrounding the ROK’s membership.
Also, the South Korean government keeps import bans on aquatic products from Fukushima. How will you handle those measures in relation to it joining the TPP?
A: I am aware of the reports that the ministerial meeting in the Republic of Korea agreed on a certain direction, but I understand that the ROK has not made any application to join the CPTTP at this time, and I will refrain from answering hypothetical questions, including those regarding the challenges in becoming a member or the handling of import bans on aquatic products.
Generally speaking, we first need to see if an economy is truly ready to meet the CPTTP's high standards in terms of both market access and rules when it shows interest in becoming a new member.
Japan will continue to monitor developments in economies that show an interest in joining, and respond from a strategic viewpoint with the understanding of the people.