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Press Conference by Minister Hagiuda (Excerpt)

*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.

8:48-8:58 a.m.
Friday, May 20, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI

Opening Remarks

Visit to Thailand

To start off, I would like to say that I am going to Thailand from now until the morning of the 23rd to attend an APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting.
This meeting's topics are overcoming COVID-19 and issues related to the multilateral trading system, and we will discuss the roles that APEC should play. I would like to firmly show that Japan is ready to cooperate with the rest of Asia, and contribute to sustainable growth and economic recovery from COVID-19.
This is the first Ministerial Meeting to be held in person in three years, and as I already went to Thailand in January of this year, it is my second visit there in a very short period. I would like to take this opportunity to exchange views directly with ministers of Thailand—this year's APEC chair country—and other participating ministers in order to build trusting relationships with each of the economies and deepen the bilateral economic relations with them.
As I am traveling while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I will make every effort to ensure preventive measures are taken, with the help of the host country.

Question-and-Answer Session

ALPS Treated Water

Q: The Nuclear Regulation Authority recently approved a plan to release treated water from a nuclear power station into the ocean. I believe the focus moving toward next spring will be on gaining the local people’s understanding. Please tell us your thoughts on how METI will respond to this issue.

A: I am aware that on May 18, the Nuclear Regulation Authority compiled a draft of a review report stating that TEPCO's implementation plan to dispose of the ALPS treated water meets regulatory standards that are based on laws and regulations.
As we move toward the disposal, it is essential for moving toward the disposal to increase understanding of the local people regarding safety of ALPS treated water. To that end, I met with Director General Grossi of the IAEA two days ago and asked the international specialist organization to run a strict, objective test on its safety and announce the results in a transparent manner. I want to keep moving forward with efforts to explain repeatedly the safety of the ALPS treated water to the entire supply chain from fishermen and other producers to distributors and consumers. The whole government will keep advancing these efforts to gain the understanding of the local people.

The Situation in Ukraine

Q: There are reports that US Treasury Secretary Yellen, while meeting with the President of the European Commission, proposed imposing tariffs on Russian oil until the embargo starts. This is also being discussed at the current Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting. As Japan has stated that it will embargo Russian oil, please give us your thoughts on the tariffs that Dr. Yellen has proposed, the feasibility of imposing such sanctions until the embargo begins, and the impact that would have on Japan's companies and economy.

A: I am aware of reports that the US Department of the Treasury plans to propose imposing tariffs on imports of Russian oil to the EU.
Regarding your question about the impacts this would have on industry, I will refrain from answering a hypothetical question at this time. However, Japan declared that it would enact the Russian oil embargo taking the G7 Leaders’ Statement into consideration, so we will move forward in that decision in an appropriate manner.
It seems that precise purpose of imposing these sanctions on Russia is currently unclear. Importing countries would bear the cost of these tariffs, so the idea could be to announce a negative initiative like this to encourage countries to reduce their dependence on Russia for energy, but I am not certain at this time.


Q: US President Biden is expected to announce a plan to establish a new economic zone plan during his visit to Japan, and the Japanese government seems to be positively considering joining. For Japan, what is the significance of joining the IPEF, and what are its aims in doing so?

A: The IPEF is a US initiative, so they are currently considering and sorting out future steps forward. This includes what countries will be involved and when it will launch.
As I have said before, Japan would like to welcome the IPEF as a way for the US to become more committed in the Indo-Pacific region. It is important that this framework leads to building a free and fair economic order in the Asia-Pacific region. Conversely, I have clearly remarked publicly that if various trade agreements were discussed within this framework, the US should simply return to the TPP instead. I believe that if the US uses this to gradually deepen its involvement with Asia, including the Indo-Pacific region, it will be an extremely valuable group.
As I am visiting Bangkok, I would like to have one-on-one meetings with related countries and firmly discuss measures that could make this framework desirable for the region.

Last updated:2022-07-05