*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, April 28, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Visit to the US
I would like to mention one point to begin with.
To further strengthen the cooperative relationship between Japan and the US in light of the current international situation, I will visit the United States from May 2 to 7 to exchange views with the relevant members of its government. With the world situation becoming unstable following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, cooperation with like-minded countries is becoming increasingly important.
Against this background, with a view toward fleshing out cooperation between Japan and the US, I will deepen the discussions with the relevant US government ministers on issues such as strengthening semiconductor supply chains, export control, establishing an economic order in the Indo-Pacific region, ensuring energy security, and speeding up the transition to clean energy.
Given that the visit will take place as COVID-19 continues to rage worldwide, I will take every precaution to avoid contracting it, with the help of the host country as well.
Restarting Nuclear Power Stations
Q: I would like to ask for your thoughts on restarting nuclear power stations.
Prime Minister Kishida commented on making use of nuclear power in a press conference on the 26th. With regard to measures to address the surging commodity prices, he mentioned that in addition to urging oil-producing countries to take action, it would also be important to make use of nuclear power. Subsequently, he also said on TV that he wanted to restart nuclear power stations wherever possible by rationalizing and streamlining the examination process.
Restarting nuclear power stations is a major theme in the current tight energy situation, so I would like to ask for your thoughts on the examination process.
A: With regard to nuclear power stations, the government's policy is that on the major premise of ensuring safety, we will respect the judgment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority if it deems that the stations meet the new regulatory standards. Only then will we proceed with restarting them while obtaining the understanding of the local stakeholders.
It is most important for the companies that run the stations to take appropriate action in response to the Nuclear Regulation Authority's safety examinations. To that end, we will encourage companies to work together to develop a framework for sharing findings and human resources with each other. The government is determined to also stand at the forefront, and carefully explain the energy situation as well as issues surrounding nuclear energy. We will make firm and tenacious efforts to gain the understanding and cooperation of the stakeholders including that of local governments.
I view Prime Minister Kishida's remarks as forming part of the government's stance of standing at the forefront and calling on the general public to understand the situation.
Q: I think even though Prime Minister Kishida mentioned streamlining and rationalizing the Nuclear Regulation Authority's examination process, he still meant to guarantee its independence. However, I felt there was something similar to government intervention in his statement. What do you think about that?
A: I am afraid I do not know all the details of the Prime Minister’s statement. As the Chief Cabinet Secretary also replied in a press conference, the Nuclear Regulation Authority is having the same team handle examinations that have similar details, and with the examiners assigned flexibly. In addition to that, it publishes the main points of past examinations to improve the operating companies' predictability, streamline future examinations, and clarify what they should focus on. I suppose that the Prime Minister’s statement was within the scope of what the Chief Cabinet Secretary detailed.
Visit to the US
Q: In relation to the visit to the US that you mentioned at the beginning, I think that cooperation with the US will become even more important due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I would like to ask again what kinds of cooperation you would like to pursue regarding semiconductors and energy.
A: As the current international situation continues rapidly changing due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, I believe this trip will be a valuable opportunity to have in-depth, face-to-face discussions with my counterparts in the US government.
I would like to refrain from predicting any concrete results at this time. However, I hope to have substantial discussions about increasing the resilience of semiconductor supply chains, as they are indispensable for all industries and to deal with our current supply shortages export control; working with the US to establish an economic order in the Indo-Pacific region; working together to stabilize the energy market given the situation in Ukraine; ensuring energy security; and how these measures can coexist with achieving carbon neutrality.
I especially want to discuss and confirm areas in which Japan and the US can work together on semiconductors as Japan has started various domestic initiatives.