*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, June 9, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building
Electricity Supply-Demand Review Committee
Today the Electricity Supply-Demand Review Committee held a meeting via remote participation. As I stated recently, the reserve rate in the Tokyo area in July is projected to be as low as 3.1%. Therefore, today, we determined electricity supply-demand measures for the summer of FY2023. In relation to the measures, we would like to request electricity-saving efforts to be made within reasonable limits for the two months of July and August in the Tokyo area, as we did last summer.
I will refrain from going into the details again as I already did so the other day, but careful efforts will achieve significant energy-saving effects on a cumulative basis. Such efforts include cleaning air conditioner filters now before the summer begins, switching off lighting in unused rooms and hallways, and avoiding putting too many things in the refrigerator. We would like to request those efforts to be made within reasonable limits. As the weather has been very humid since yesterday, please make electricity-saving efforts within reasonable limits while taking due care not to suffer from heatstroke.
Second, on June 7, Mr. WATANABE Tetsuya was elected as the new President of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, commonly known as ERIA.
He and I together participated in the TPP negotiations. He is knowledgeable about affairs related to Asia and trade. ERIA will establish a digital center in August to address new challenges, such as digital transformation and green transformation, for which a budget of 5 billion yen has been secured. We hope that under the new president, ERIA will play a more active role by providing intellectual infrastructure for various new initiatives, including DX and GX.
This week, the Japan-ASEAN Business Week is being held. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN friendship and cooperation. We recently announced the ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation Vision, which indicates the direction of a new economic relationship between Japan and ASEAN.
The Young Business Leaders’ Summit is scheduled to be held at the end of this year with the aim of developing a network among promising human resources who are expected to become future business leaders. We would like to strengthen our relationship and cooperation with ASEAN in cooperation with ERIA.
Visit to Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures
Third, tomorrow, June 10, I will visit Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures.
I will visit the fishermen’s associations of Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures as well as the fisheries cooperative of Ibaraki’s coastal region, where I will provide explanations and exchange opinions about the discharge of ALPS-treated water into the sea.
Disposal of ALPS-treated water is an inevitable challenge that stands in the way of implementing the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. I will provide explanations directly to the fishermen about the need for the disposal and efforts to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage. I will also seek opinions from the fishermen and engage in steady communication with the local people.
Q: I have a question related to ALPS-treated water, which you have just mentioned.
You recently met with fishermen in Fukushima and senior officials of the Fukushima prefectural government. As you announced just now, you are scheduled to visit Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures and meet with people involved, including fisheries.
As the people involved, including fisheries in Fukushima, are still strongly opposing the plan, it cannot be said that a sufficient understanding has been obtained from the local stakeholders. Given the impending start of the discharge scheduled for this coming spring to summer, please tell me about the roadmap that you have in mind for discharging treated water into the sea after obtaining the local stakeholders’ understanding.
A: We must proceed with the disposal of ALPS-treated water while listening to the opinions and concerns of the local stakeholders, including fishermen, and engaging in close communication. The government as a whole will do its utmost to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage. It is important to provide support for the maintenance of the fishermen’s livelihoods and also to continue efforts to provide careful explanations about that.
We have already held round-table dialogues with the fishermen in Fukushima. Over the past several days I received visits from and exchanged opinions with senior officials of the fishermen’s associations of Fukushima’s Soso region, comprised of Soma and Futaba, and Governor Uchibori.
For us, ensuring safety is the prerequisite. It is essential for Tokyo Electric Power to appropriately complete the engineering work, to be followed by examination and inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. In addition, a comprehensive report by the IAEA is scheduled to be issued in the first half of this year. We will take actions, including preventing reputational damage and firmly responding to any contingency, while appropriately showing scientific evidence and data related to safety based on the report and being considerate of the feelings and concerns of the local people.
To that end, tomorrow, I will talk to those peoples involved, providing careful explanations to and seeking opinions from them. I will address this matter while engaging in close communication in this way.
Q: TSMC recently expressed its intention to build another semiconductor factory in Kumamoto Prefecture, which will be its second factory in Japan. Could you comment on that?
A: When TSMC Chairman Mark Liu recently visited Japan, he exchanged opinions with me. We had a meeting after he made a presentation to the Prime Minister. He showed a strong eagerness to invest in Japan.
I understand that in a press conference after the general shareholders’ meeting on June 6, he issued a statement to the effect that although the construction of a second factory in Japan is still under study, Kumamoto will be considered as a priority candidate site from the economic point of view.
First of all, METI welcomes the fact that TSMC is considering a large-scale additional investment in Japan.
As you know, as part of a new industrial policy, METI has been implementing bold support measures, such as assistance for the construction of the first factory by TSMC and JASM and assistance for Rapidus toward realizing mass production of next-generation semiconductors. We are doing this with a sense of urgency under a strong resolve to create a resilient supply chain for securing necessary semiconductors as the first step in cooperation with like-minded countries and also to ultimately lead the world in the semiconductor sector.
At last month’s meeting to exchange opinions between the Prime Minister and top executives of semiconductor manufacturers, many of them expressed their intention to place importance on Japan and expand investment in the country. I assume that the statement that TSMC issued at this time also reflected the company’s appreciation of our approach.
Going forward, while supporting efforts to realize TSMC’s investment plan, METI will strive to secure necessary budget funds after scrutinizing the specifics of the investment and examining details of the support as well as its financial value.