*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, May 13, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
The Situation in Ukraine
I would like to mention one thing to begin with.
In response to Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine, Japan has taken strong sanctions against Russia and others in cooperation with the international community.
On May 5, Prime Minister Kishida spoke about additional sanctions, including export bans on cutting-edge products. Based on the Cabinet's approval on May 10, 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 May 20 in order to ban exports of cutting-edge products to Russia. As a result, exports of cutting-edge products—such as quantum computers, 3D printers, and electron microscopes—to Russia will be banned from May 20.
Exports of advanced 3D printers have already been banned, but the new ban will cover all 3D printers including ordinary ones. We will also prohibit the provision of technology related to the aforementioned items. The administrative staff will explain the details later.
We will continue to establish strict sanctions in cooperation with the G7 and the rest of the international community while monitoring the situation surrounding Ukraine.
Economic Security Promotion Act
Q: The Economic Security Promotion Act was enacted recently, and its targets were specified by governmental and ministerial ordinances. Some are pointing out the challenges in applying this act. Some in the industry are voicing their concern about excessive intervention. Please tell us what METI plans to do with the application of the Act.
A: As vulnerabilities in the global supply chains are increasing and risks in interdependency between countries and regions are surfacing, the Economic Security Promotion Act is designed to bolster the efforts we make toward economic security, such as making Japan's economic structure more self-reliant and ensuring superiority and essentiality of our technology. In applying this act, we have to think about how to ensure predictability when companies move forward with business operations. We need to identify what initiatives are truly necessary and take proper measures while hearing industry and expert opinions.
We have already gathered opinions from industry associations about the bill. When we formulate a Cabinet Order, we naturally respond to the requests, opinions, and concerns of those in industry. METI has jurisdiction over a wide range of industries, so we will do our best to ensure that this system is effective and predictable.
Q: My question is about the IPEF, the US-proposed new economic framework.
Please tell us what kind of rules this platform will create; how many countries are currently expected to participate, including Japan; and what kind of progress has been made, including when it will be launched.
A: The IPEF is a US-led initiative, so they are currently considering and sorting out future steps forward. This includes what countries will be involved and when it will be launched.
As I answered a similar question at the last conference, the Japanese government would like to welcome the IPEF as a way for the US to get more committed to the Indo-Pacific region. It will only become a meaningful, inclusive framework if as many countries as possible from this region participate. I have also been giving the US side my opinion on this matter since last year. When I visited the US recently, I stated that it is important for many countries to endorse the IPEF's objectives and come together before the US starts it up.
I have also suggested as a representative of the Japanese side that an environment be created where many countries can give their opinions, such as what content should be included in the framework, rather than starting up everything including the content all at once.
I want Japan and the US to work closely together to form a free and fair economic order in the Indo-Pacific region. There are various reports floating around about the launch date of this framework, but I believe that the US government will ultimately propose when to launch it. Thus, I cannot make predictions at this stage.
Q: I just have one more question about this: are you thinking about the schedule? For example, will a ministerial meeting be held at the time of the launch?
A: I have heard some reports about this topic in the US, but I have not received a proposal to hold a ministerial meeting.
The Situation in Ukraine
Q: While speaking to the media about ending dependence on Russian fossil fuels the other day, EU President Michel also mentioned ending dependence on their natural gas as well. If the G7 also takes that stance regarding Russia, do you think Japan can realistically take part?
A: I am aware that EU President Michel has mentioned that the ban on Russian imports will be extended to natural gas.
We have been working closely with the international community, including the G7, to impose stringent sanctions expeditiously on Russia in the energy field, such as phasing out and prohibiting coal imports. Although this was a very tough decision as Japan relies heavily on imports for its energy resources, solidarity with the G7 is of the utmost importance. Considering that and the recent G7 Summit Leaders’ Statement, we also decided to enact the oil embargo.
I will refrain from commenting on what we will do about the additional gas sanctions at this time. However, taking into account the vulnerability of Japan's energy supply and demand structure and the fact that we have the lowest energy self-sufficiency rate among all G7 countries, we need to cautiously consider how we can reduce our dependence on Russia for energy while ensuring a stable supply to firmly protect our citizens' lives and our economic activity.