*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building
Visit to Germany and Cambodia
I would like to say two things to start.
First, I will be visiting Germany and Cambodia from tonight until the 19th.
In Germany, I will attend the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting, which will be held in person for the first time this year. I will thoroughly discuss various issues such as how the G7 should respond to the significant changes in the international situation such as the crisis in Ukraine, the WTO reform, improving supply chain resilience, and addressing market-distorting measures, with a view toward next year's G7, which Japan will chair.
After that, I will visit Cambodia. I will attend the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) - METI Consultations, which will be held in person for the first time in three years, and other related meetings.
I will discuss the future direction of ASEAN and Japan's cooperation, and our efforts toward the 50th anniversary of friendship and cooperation between Japan and ASEAN in 2023. I will also attend the RCEP Ministerial Meeting.
Naturally, I will make every effort to ensure measures are taken to protect against COVID-19, with the help of the host country.
The second point is the human rights guidelines. International efforts calling for companies to respect human rights are accelerating. Against this backdrop, we have inaugurated a study group on human rights due diligence—respect for human rights in business supply chains—and have been working to create cross-industrial guidelines.
The draft guidelines have been finalized after gathering comments from the public. Today, I will report to the meeting of relevant ministries and agencies chaired by Mr. Nakatani, Assistant to Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, and ask for their approval so that we can formally adopt it as the Japanese government's guidelines.
We will continue to promote the dissemination of these guidelines so that companies can firmly grasp and comprehensively examine potential risks in their supply chains based on them.
In addition, with regulations being strengthened regarding respect for human rights, particularly in Europe and the United States, it is necessary to promote international cooperation such as sharing information with relevant countries, and ensure the predictability for Japanese companies. These guidelines will be the basis for such efforts. I will talk about this actively at the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting.
The administrative staff will explain the details of the guidelines later.
Automobile Industry Policies
Q: After visiting the Toyota Research Institute during your visit to the United States on September 10, you mentioned in an on-the-move interview that you would hold a meeting with the Prime Minister, relevant ministers, and representatives of the automobile industry to exchange views in the Prime Minister's official residence as early as next month. You said that you were considering the early practical application and promotion of widespread use of cutting-edge technologies such as autonomous driving. What specific discussions do you want to advance?
A: As you said, in San Francisco's Silicon Valley, I visited Toyota's research center, TRI, where I observed and exchanged views on areas of research such as autonomous driving technology and robots. It is said that we are in a period of "once-in-a-century" transformations such as DX and GX, particularly in the automobile industry, and I strongly felt that view while at TRI. From my various observations, I felt firsthand that such technologies are progressing rapidly, and the possibilities of mobility are blossoming.
I actually rode an autonomously driven car that changed lanes very smoothly, displayed where people were standing, and drove automatically while predicting how surrounding vehicles were to move, including how a certain car was likely to cut in line. My impression was that it was very safe and comfortable because safety was ensured by making full use of sensors and other technologies.
The Japanese automobile industry has led the world and has formed the core of the Japanese economy. It will continue to lead the world using its technologies, and we hope to show in concrete detail how mobility will grow and contribute to society in the future, and create solid measures toward that. From this perspective, I will meet with Prime Minister Kishida and relevant ministers next month at the earliest to directly exchange views on a wide range of topics with representatives from the automobile industry. We will quickly advance efforts while listening to voices from the front lines on topics such as the future and possibilities of mobility, and the necessity of policies to implement it in society.
United States Inflation Reduction Act
Q: Regarding your recent visit to the United States, please tell us about the United States' Inflation Reduction Act. I think you mentioned an inflation support measure, and I heard that you expressed concerns to Secretary Raimondo. I think that while this EV support measure addresses inflation and climate change, there are issues from the perspective of trade rules. What concerns do you have regarding this support measure, and what kind of response do you want from the United States? Also, please tell us what possible impact U.S. policies can have on the Japanese automobile industry and its manufacturers.
A: This is about the tax deductions for electric vehicles under the Inflation Reduction Act that you mentioned. We have expressed Japan's concerns through all available routes, including the meeting I had with Secretary Raimondo and USTR Tai in Los Angeles.
For Japan, the most critical point about this tax reduction system is that Japan is currently cooperating with the United States and like-minded countries to improve the resilience of supply chains, and it is not aligned with the overall strategy. I have expressed this concern, and also other concerns, such as potential inconsistency with the WTO Agreement.
I will refrain from giving any details of the exchanges, including the responses from the other party, but I will continue to discuss this thoroughly with the United States in the future, as they expressed their intention to continue discussions as well.