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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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

9:39-9:53 a.m.
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building

Question-and-Answer Session

ALPS-Treated Water

Q: I have questions related to treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Recently, Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon of the ROK agreed on the dispatch of delegation of ROK experts to the site. In response to the IAEA review, in which ROK experts also participated, you have until now continued to disseminate information. What do you expect to achieve by accepting the ROK delegation at this time? That is the first question. Second, the ROK’s president used the phrase “contaminated water,” which appears to indicate differences in opinions and positions on this matter between Japan and the ROK. After accepting the delegation, how do you intend to engage in communication so as to deepen the ROK side’s understanding on the discharge of treated water into the sea?

A: That is a question concerning ALPS-treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Japan has already carefully explained to relevant countries the need to discharge ALPS-treated water into the sea as well as the current situation, in which the tanks are being filled up during the preparation for the decommissioning of the reactors. We have also explained that Japan has been proceeding with the construction of facilities for discharging treated water while undergoing the IAEA review and ensuring safety. We have carefully explained to those countries that Japan ensures the safety of ALPS-treated water that will be discharged.
To the ROK as well, we have repeatedly explained, based on scientific evidence, that the water to be discharged is no longer contaminated water because it has been treated by ALPS to lower the concentrations of radioactive substances other than tritium below the regulatory standard levels, and also that it will be further diluted with seawater.
At this time, agreement was reached on the dispatch of the delegation to Fukushima. We will carefully explain the situation that I mentioned just now, including the condition of the tanks, the progress in the construction work, and the method of discharging treated water, and also explain that the treated water has been purified so as to lower the concentrations of radioactive substances below the regulatory standard levels and that it will be further diluted with seawater, while the delegation observes the situation on-site. Through the visit of the delegation, we hope that the understanding on the safety of the discharge of ALPS-treated water into the sea will deepen in the ROK.
Let me reiterate that Japan has already undergone the IAEA review. Coordination work for the forthcoming inspection is being made by Japan and the ROK with the IAEA review accepted as a common premise by both sides. Therefore, this is nothing more than a measure to help to deepen the ROK side’s understanding. Unlike the IAEA review, the delegation is not intended to evaluate or verify the safety of ALPS-treated water.
Additionally, Japan has already actively accepted delegations of foreign governments. Relevant officials from the United States, Taiwan and Pacific Island countries have visited the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. We hope that our acceptance of the ROK delegation at this time will deepen the ROK side’s understanding.
In any case, we would like to disseminate information with a high degree of transparency while taking into consideration the results of the IAEA review, on which a comprehensive report is scheduled to be issued in the first half of this year. We will strive to foster the understanding of the international community, including the ROK.


Q: I also have a question related to the Japan-ROK summit meeting. The two countries’ leaders agreed that the ROK’s semiconductor makers and Japanese materials and parts manufacturers should cooperate with each other with the aim of creating a resilient semiconductor supply chain. Please tell me what specific activities METI will conduct based on this agreement.

A: First, regarding the Japan-ROK relationship in the semiconductor sector, as you know, in Japan, there are a number of highly competitive semiconductor-manufacturing equipment makers as well as materials and parts manufacturers. In the ROK, there are large, competitive semiconductor makers that have gained immense market shares internationally in terms of both memory chips and logic semiconductors by using Japanese-made equipment and materials. Memory chips and logic semiconductors made by ROK’s companies are also used by many Japanese users, including the automobile industry. In other words, there is already a so-called mutually beneficial supply chain. I understand that it is very important for the Japanese and the Korean companies, which each have world-class strengths, to cooperate with each other in order to increase the resilience of the semiconductor supply chain.
That said, what is important is that benefits are brought to both countries, in the form of two-way investment, for example. Going forward, Japan will realize a stable supply of semiconductors, which are essential for the development and innovation of various future new technologies, including autonomous driving, diversification of IoT terminals, and AI. Japan will strive to secure a stable supply of semiconductors.
As to what concrete actions METI may take, we will consider what to do while cooperating with the ROK side and while giving due consideration to the needs of private companies.

Q: Let me ask a further question.
You mentioned the need for two-way investment. Samsung has an advantage in the logic semiconductor sector. Are you considering plans such as inviting Samsung to establish a manufacturing base in Japan, for example?

A: There is not such a concrete plan. However, based on the agreement reached at the Japan-ROK summit, various activities may occur as part of the effort to create a more resilient semiconductor supply chain. Therefore, we would like to hold discussions with the ROK Government and consider what to do while giving consideration for the needs of private companies in particular, including the need to secure a stable supply of semiconductors.

Nuclear Power Policy

Q: The GX-Decarbonization bill has passed the House of Representatives. In the Ukraine conflict, it has become clear that nuclear power stations could become targets of attack during a war. That means Japan, a country with 54 nuclear reactors within its small territory, has as many missile targets.
With a Taiwan crisis and China in mind, the government is even preparing to introduce missiles capable of reaching enemy territories by implementing a tax increase. Why hasn’t the government allocated budget funds to enhance the defense of nuclear power stations, which is currently insufficient? It appears to be an act of madness to be preparing for a war in which multiple nuclear power stations may be destroyed by a saturation attack, for example, and in which Japan may be polluted entirely with radiation and be defeated. How do you evaluate the risks associated with nuclear power stations from the viewpoint of Japan’s national security?

A: First, regarding armed attacks on the nuclear power stations in Ukraine, the Geneva Treaty stipulates that nuclear power stations must not be made targets of attack. From that viewpoint, armed attacks on nuclear power stations are totally unacceptable.
From that standpoint, in order to support the IAEA in its initiative to ensure the safety of the nuclear-related facilities in Ukraine, I held an online meeting with IAEA Secretary General Grossi last month and expressed METI’s plan to provide 2 million euros in new funds.
The communique issued at the G7 Sapporo meeting, for which I served as president, emphasized the importance of nuclear safety and security and reaffirmed cooperation with reliable partners in order to reduce dependence on Russia. At the G7, Japan, together with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France, reaffirmed that point.
Moreover, in the Central and East European countries that I visited during the Golden Week holiday, including the Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania, I held meetings with relevant cabinet members and called for strengthening supply chains with like-minded countries with shared values, and reached agreement with them.
I am also aware that the IAEA is currently engaging in activities based on international law, such as proposing to both Russia and Ukraine the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone. Japan would like to actively support initiatives like that.
That said, it is very important to address risks associated with nuclear power stations while assuming every possible contingency, including armed attacks. From that viewpoint, the government as a whole is making necessary preparations to secure cooperation between relevant organizations in the event of various contingencies regarding nuclear power stations and other facilities.
This is a matter of the defense of Japan itself, rather than a matter of the regulation of nuclear facilities. In addition to the deployment of AEGIS vessels and PAC 3 in response to missile attacks on nuclear facilities, we are preparing measures such as an order to suspend the use of nuclear facilities and the evacuation of residents under the framework of the Act concerning the Measures for Protection of the People in Armed Attack Situations.
I understand that on November 28 last year, an emergency drill for rapid PAC 3 deployment was conducted in Ohi Town, Fukui Prefecture, and joint exercises by the Self-Defense Forces and the police have repeatedly been conducted.
In any case, to ensure that we can deal with every contingency, we will make constant efforts to strengthen cooperation between relevant organizations on a routine basis.

Last updated:2023-05-09