*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI
Lifting of the Evacuation Order for the Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Base Area in Futaba Town
I have four points to mention to begin today.
The first is that at a Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters meeting held via remote participation today, it was decided to lift the evacuation order for the specified reconstruction and revitalization base area around Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture on August 30.
This will enable original residents of Futaba Town to return to and live in their own homes for the first time since the evacuation, and we regard it as a major first step toward reconstruction.
Lifting the evacuation order is not the finish line, but the starting line on the road to reconstruction. I would like to continue cooperating with the relevant ministries and agencies to create an environment where the evacuees can return to their homes with peace of mind. The administrative staff will report on the details later.
Fukushima Hamadori Cinema and Arts Project
The second point is that whereas we have been working toward reconstruction in Fukushima one step at a time thus far, from now on, it is going to be even more important to push forward with making the region an appealing place that will make former locals want to return home, and other people want to visit. The region has been through many challenges, has many unique features, and still faces various challenges, and we want to work to encourage people to throng to it to experience its culture and arts, and to enable local people to enjoy renewed confidence and pride in it.
To that end, we are launching the Fukushima Hamadori Cinema and Arts Project, a reconstruction initiative to create new regional uniqueness through art and culture. Focusing on cinema first, next month we are going to hold filmmaking events in Futaba Town that will bring together directors, scriptwriters, students involved in filmmaking and local residents. We will explore ways to create new frameworks for regional reconstruction and filmmaking that can be advertised throughout Japan, and overseas. We also intend to expand the initiative to include theater, music, and contemporary art in addition to film.
We have set up a voluntary team of mainly younger METI staff for the project, and its members have already made a number of visits to the area. We will continue to actively explore further approaches. Toward expediting the reconstruction of Fukushima, which is of paramount importance, we will spare no effort in working with the local people. The administrative staff will explain the details later, but if you in the press club have time, please do go there yourselves and cover the work being done.
Visit to the US
The third point is that I will be visiting the United States from tomorrow until July 31. I will be going to Silicon Valley first, where I will exchange views with Japanese and US stakeholders involved in startups. This is the inaugural year for developing startups, and I intend to make use of what I will learn from this visit in formulating our five-year plan.
My next stop will be in Washington DC, where I will attend the first meeting of the Japan-US Economic Policy Consultative Committee—the so-called Economic 2+2. I will openly exchange views with Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and Secretary of State Blinken on the importance of supply chains, competition over critical and emerging technologies, and other issues related to economic security, and use the results in determining how to proceed next.
While in Washington, I will also exchange views individually with representatives of METI's counterparts in the US government. I am going to exchange views on how to proceed with the IPEF as well, also taking into account the results of the IPEF ministerial meeting I will be attending online today and tomorrow, just before my US visit. Also, since the visit is also going to take place during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I will make every effort to ensure that adequate preventive measures are taken, with the help of the host country.
The last point from me is that based on the 5G Promotion Act, we approved a plan today on developing advanced semiconductor production facilities, which was submitted jointly by KIOXIA and a joint venture company with Western Digital.
METI has decided that the plan meets the authorization criteria in the 5G Promotion Act and will contribute to producing advanced semiconductors stably in Japan. The maximum amount of subsidization will be around 92.9 billion yen. The project is expected to contribute to strengthening the semiconductor supply chains and developing the semiconductor industry in the immediate term, and also to strengthening Japan-US partnership on semiconductor manufacturing. METI will also continue to provide close support in cooperation with the local governments and relevant ministries, including in helping to secure the relevant personnel.
The administrative staff will also explain more in a briefing later, so please ask about the details then.
Visit to the US
Q: I have two questions about your visit to the United States that will start tomorrow. While you are there, are you going to raise the subject of completely abolishing steel and automobile tariffs? If so, what kind of progress do you expect to see?
A: In addition to taking part in the Economic 2+2 while I am in Washington DC, I also intend to have bilateral talks with the relevant Secretaries. Since these talks will also depend on how my counterparts will react, I will refrain from making any predictions now about what we will discuss. That said, I do of course intend to continue to address matters of concern.
Q: I would like to ask you about the IPEF, which you mentioned at the beginning. First, could you tell us what kinds of discussions you are expecting to see in the coming meeting in preparation for the formal negotiations? Also, India is not in the TPP or RCEP but is in this framework, so could you tell us how you think that might affect what the IPEF will mean for Japan?
A: An IPEF ministerial meeting is going to be held online today and tomorrow, and I will be attending it to represent Japan. This meeting is part of the discussions toward future negotiations, and I think it is being regarded as a kickoff meeting.
The United States is advocating four pillars, and I know that all 13 countries have been invited to participate in all of the discussions, so Japan plans to do so. I am expecting the participating countries to openly exchange views on items of their own interest.
Personally, I intend to stress the importance of pursuing a balanced package based on rules and cooperation to address 21st century issues such as digital technology, supply chains, and decarbonization, so that the IPEF will help form an open, fair, and inclusive economic order in the region. Also, as you mentioned, some countries that are not participating in the CPTTP or RCEP will also be taking part in the discussions within this framework. Consequently, I think it would not be correct to say these meetings have been set up with the intention of creating trade rules straight away. Rather, I think it is a major development that the US has in a sense become interested in the Asia-Pacific region again, creating an opportunity for 14 countries to thoroughly discuss common interests on a level playing field. So, I want the meetings to be run inclusively, and intend to support them accordingly.