*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Q: I have two questions from the lead company about yesterday's Japan-US summit meeting.
First, the US government announced that it is going to start talks with 12 countries—Japan among them—toward launching a new economic framework (the IPEF) in the Indo-Pacific region. Accordingly, talks are going to be conducted by these 13 countries. What are your expectations toward participating in this framework? We would also like to ask you what kinds of changes you think the launch of the IPEF will bring for economic activities in the region.
A: Yesterday, I attended a summit-level meeting on the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) then a ministerial meeting on the IPEF immediately after that, both of which were hosted by the US.
The announcement of the launch of the IPEF was supported by a wide range of countries, among them India and seven from ASEAN, and is a major first step toward achieving shared benefits in the Indo-Pacific region. I think it is to be welcomed as a move to strengthen US commitment in this region.
As the joint statement said, discussions are going to commence toward future negotiations, and I would like Japan and the other countries involved to share their knowledge so that this IPEF initiative leads to building a free and fair economic order in the Indo-Pacific.
I would like to work to ensure that the countries in this region will truly feel the tangible benefits, with the following among the specific foci of action: facilitating trade and investment; the digital economy; making supply chains more resilient; decarbonization; and promoting infrastructural development, including in relation to clean energy.
It has often been remarked in the press that there will be no tangible benefits in terms of tariffs. However, that is its nature, and I also think so. Given that there are relevant frameworks in the form of RCEP and the CPTPP, the fact that these 13 countries can speak outside the frameworks is a benefit. I think that it will benefit all participating countries enormously to have an opportunity to discuss from slightly different perspectives outside, rather than directly talking about FTAs within the CPTPP and RCEP. As Prime Minister Kishida and I said yesterday, if the talk turns to economic matters such as tariffs, the US should return to the TPP. Having said that, I think it would still bring a major benefits.
Q: I have one more question.
In the Japan-US summit meeting, the leaders agreed to hold an Economic "2+2" in July. Please tell us about this framework's significance and outcome targets, and what themes you want to discuss.
Also, please tell us what you currently know about the venue.
A: In the Japan-US summit joint statement, the two leaders expressed their intention to hold a ministerial meeting of the Japan-US Economic Policy Consultative Committee—a so-called Economic "2+2"—this July. I would like to discuss strengthening Japan-US cooperation in areas such as securing economic security (including improving supply chain resilience) and strengthening the rule-based economic order in the Indio-Pacific region, based on the policies confirmed between the leaders.
The venue and other details will be coordinated between Japan and the US in due course, but Secretary Raimondo and I are informally talking about Hawaii being a good venue.
Q: In the joint statement from yesterday's summit meeting, the leaders also agreed to establish a task force for joint development of next-generation semiconductors. As the minister responsible for this technology, how would you like to proceed?A: In the Japan-US summit joint statement released yesterday, the leaders agreed to pursue cooperation toward strengthening economic security, and that this would include establishing a joint task force for developing next-generation semiconductors, and cooperating on controlling exports of critical technologies. In the Japan-US Economic Policy Consultative Committee meeting—the so-called Economic "2+2"—I would like to deepen Japan-US cooperation by discussing such measures broadly, and from a strategic perspective.
In addition, in the summit statement, the leaders also agreed to cooperate on the Artemis program—whose most notable goal is manned exploration of the Moon—and this is a plan that coincidently I happen to have signed. At the time, the US government called its integrated plan to go to the Mars the "Artemis program," and asked Japan to participate. As I thought it would be unwise to promise support all the way to Mars at once, I signed an agreement to participate as far as the Moon. Things started to proceed from there, then I became METI Minister. As METI is involved in it as well, we would like to cooperate firmly as part of a government effort.
In particular, as you may have seen it yesterday, Japanese technology is currently being used for R&D to make a moon rover, which is currently being built at a Toyota research center in my home region.
First Movers CoalitionQ: Yesterday's outcome document stated that Japan will become a strategic partner in the First Movers Coalition, a platform where major global companies will create demand by procuring large quantities of decarbonization products. How will the Japanese government contribute? Also, how do you plan to encourage Japanese companies to participate in the coalition?
A: The First Movers Coalition is a framework for major global companies to commit to purchasing products needed for decarbonization in order to promptly create initial demand.
This initiative is important in terms of revitalizing innovation and integrating cutting-edge technologies into society faster. To ensure that this framework runs smoothly, Japan will actively contribute by establishing standards for related technologies and having Japanese companies provide cutting-edge products and create initial demand.
I also want to encourage Japanese companies to participate by showing them the benefits of capturing strong demand from global companies, and the significance of integrating these technologies into society faster by creating initial demand.
I think Japan can excel in this area. Japan has many different technology-related proposals for decarbonization, and things that have already gone into production or are starting to be integrated into society. I think we have a lot of things that could surprise the world, so I really want to take initiative here.
Q: I would like to ask about the US-Japan joint statement. A joint statement was released regarding Japan-US cooperation in the energy field and a request for the US to increase its LNG production, which you also discussed when you visited the US during the long holiday. As you were in the US just before the release of this statement, please give us your thoughts on its content.
A: In the joint statement compiled as the result of a Japan-US summit meeting, the two leaders welcomed the establishment of the Japan-US Clean Energy and Energy Security Initiative agreement that Energy Secretary Granholm and I reached this month and stresses the significant role that US LNG plays. Prime Minister Kishida also welcomed investment by US industry to increase production of LNG.
As the world is reducing its dependence on Russian energy, I think it is very significant that we are further strengthening our partnership with the US to bolster the energy security between our countries, and that we have agreed to establish a new framework that promotes cooperating in a wide range of clean energy fields, including hydrogen, ammonia, CCUS, carbon recycling, nuclear power, and renewable energy.
As you pointed out, the points that Secretary Granholm and I agreed upon during my prior visit to the US have been endorsed by the leaders. In that sense, I think this was a great accomplishment. Moving forward, Japan will continue strengthening its partnership with the US in the energy field. This includes our cooperation on LNG.