1. Home
  2. Press Conferences and Statements
  3. Press Conferences
  4. Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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

10:05-10:21 a.m.
Monday, October 3, 2022
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building

Opening Remarks

I would like to mention two points.

Study Group for Designing a Growth-Oriented, Resource-Autonomous Circular Economy

The first point is that today, METI will launch a Study Group for Designing a Growth-Oriented, Resource-Autonomous Circular Economy and establish a Strategy Planning Office for a Resource-Autonomous Circular Economy.
Through these, we will work on restructuring resource-circulating economic policies as part of the new core of economic and industrial policy, in order to address the resource constraints that we have been facing since last year, and the environmental constraints that are now truly global challenges. The aim is to make the domestic resource circulation systems more autonomous and resilient, to become more internationally competitive, and achieve sustainable growth.
Specifically, we will hold the first meeting of the study group on the 5th of this month with the aim of formulating a strategy by the end of this fiscal year. I plan to attend the beginning of the first meeting.
Please contact the administrative staff for more information.

Dual-Use Subsidy Program

The second is that on Friday, September 30, we announced the successful applicants for the Program for Developing Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Sites to Strengthen Vaccine Production—also known as Dual-Use Subsidy Program. We have adopted 17 projects worth of 226.5 billion yen.
This program is about providing support for manufacturers that are investing capital in their site facilities, so that they can manufacture pharmaceuticals during normal times, and then when, for example, a pandemic breaks out, switch to producing vaccines domestically or providing components and materials that are necessary for their production.
The aim is to create bases for securing a supply of vaccines within Japan—something I had a hard time addressing when I was the minister in charge of dealing with COVID-19.
The 17 projects adopted include technology based on messenger RNA (mRNA), conventional modified proteins, and virus vectors. They will all help us develop a system to produce various kinds of vaccines right here in Japan should the need arise.
The applicants include major pharmaceutical companies and startups as well as SMEs that are supplying necessary materials.  The Japanese government firmly intends to develop these bases. In fact, when I was exchanging views at yesterday's STS Forum with Prof. Fire, the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, he praised Japan's dual-use system.
I believe that this kind of support will be necessary if we are to develop, quickly produce, and domestically supply vaccines in future pandemics.
Please contact the administrative staff for more information.

Question-and-Answer Session

Oil Policy

Q: According to the Petroleum Statistics for August, oil imports from Arab countries accounted for 95% of Japan's total. This is a higher share than ever. On the other hand, in response to the situation in Ukraine, Japan has stopped importing oil from Iran and Russia following the United States' sanctions.
Given these circumstances, what are your thoughts on Japan's energy situation and energy security?

A: We are facing a very difficult situation in which we need to pursue both a stable energy supply and GX. I recognize that ensuring a stable supply of energy such as crude oil is an important mission for us.
Meanwhile, as you said, it is true that we are becoming more dependent on oil imports from the Middle Eastern or Arab countries because imports from Iran and Russia are currently suspended. Apparently, individual companies decide where specifically to procure crude oil based on the market conditions and their own long-term contracts, so I will refrain from saying anything about future prospects.
That said, since Japan depended on the Middle East for 95% of our oil in August as you said, and for nearly 98% in July, we recognize how crucial the region is for our energy security and stable supply of crude oil.
The other day, I met and talked with Minister Al Jaber from the UAE and Minister Al-Aufi from Oman. I asked them to continue to provide stable supplies of oil and LNG, and they said that they would work with us in this regard.
I also met some senior executives from Saudi Aramco at the STS Forum yesterday. We spoke about various issues, and I told them that I was already acquainted with their Minister of Energy, H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, and I hoped to talk with him in the near future. In any case, I want to firmly strengthen and develop our relationships with the Middle East.
In this context, speaking of those relationships, the Middle East is playing pivotal roles not only in supplying oil and gas but also in the clean energy field and our work toward building supply chains for hydrogen and ammonia—projects that we have been discussing with Ministers Al Jaber and Al-Aufi.
I want to strengthen our cooperative relations like these ones. Having said that, it is essential for Japan to diversify its supply sources both from the viewpoint of a stable supply and security. Japan must secure a stable supply of energy by exploring every option, including diversifying its supply sources and making full use of the renewable and nuclear energy it has at home. As I said earlier, our relationships with the Middle East are extremely important and we will develop them in a wide range of economic fields, including the clean energy sector.

Last updated:2022-10-24