*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
11:58 a.m.-12:12 p.m.
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building
Reorganization of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE)
The Cabinet Order on the Organization of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has been amended to establish an organizational system to promote the GX initiative, including the integrated implementation of hydrogen and ammonium policies. Specifically, we will establish the Hydrogen and Ammonium Division, which will take charge of policies specific to hydrogen and ammonium on both the supply and demand sides, under the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Department.
In addition, under the Natural Resources and Fuel Department, in order to promote policies related to non-fossil fuels as well as conventional energy sources like oil and natural gas, we will establish the Energy Resources Development Division, which will take charge of promoting upstream development in and outside Japan, the Fuel Supply Infrastructure Policy Division, which will take charge of developing a domestic supply system, and the Carbon Management Division, which will take charge of promoting CCS and Carbon Recycling. Thus, we will make every possible effort to promote GX.
In 1985, I joined the Planning Division under ANRE’s Petroleum Department. The terms “petroleum,” “natural gas,” and “coal” will all disappear from the names of METI/ANRE divisions. I am feeling the dramatic changes of the times and I have resolved anew to firmly promote energy policy with an eye to the coming era.
Control of exports to the Republic of Korea (ROK)
A Cabinet Decision was made today on June 27 on the Cabinet Order to Partially Amend the Export Trade Control Order under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act that would add the ROK to Appended Table 3. The amended order will be promulgated on June 30 and go into force on July 21.
Before this amendment, in April, Japan held a total of 38 hours of policy dialogue over eight days with the ROK. During that period, we visited the ROK’s office that actually implements export control procedures and conducted strict verification of the country’s export control system, status of enforcement, and the effectiveness of control. Japan agreed with the ROK on a framework of follow-up review under which policy dialogue will continue about affairs related to each other’s systems and enforcement in general and under which appropriate actions¸ including the revision of the system and enforcement, will be taken as necessary. We will sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure the operation of this framework. If a problem like an inappropriate export from the ROK to a third country is identified, Japan will call on the ROK to take appropriate action.
Regarding this draft amendment, we solicited public comments for 34 days from April 28 to May 31. During the public comment period, we received opinions arguing against the country category revision due to concerns about the smuggling of goods to third countries, inadequate verification, and pending bilateral issues other than the affairs of export control. On the other hand, we also received opinions arguing for adding the ROK to Appended Table 3 for reasons such as the ROK’s improved export control and because cooperation between Japan and the ROK and between Japan, the United States and the ROK should be promoted.
Regarding the opinions arguing against the country category revision due to concerns about the smuggling of goods to third countries and inadequate verification, it was confirmed through the strict verification conducted in the policy dialogue that sufficient measures have been taken in the ROK. Regarding opinions linking the country category revision with pending issues other than the affairs of export control, we believe that these two should be considered separately. As a result of close examination of the opinions received, we judged that there is no need to make any particular modification to the draft.
As I said earlier, METI will strive to ensure that the system after the revision will be appropriately operated under the framework of follow-up review on which Japan has agreed with the ROK.
Japan would like to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security through strict export control while continuing to cooperate with its allies and like-minded countries, including the ROK.
Regarding this matter, the administrative staff will give you a briefing later.
GX (Green Transformation) Implementation Council
Today, the sixth meeting of the GX Implementation Council was held. Last month, the GX Promotion Act and the Act on Power Sources for Green Transformation and Decarbonization were enacted in the Diet. Following the enactment, we will move the new policy measures intended to realize GX in Japan, including a growth-oriented carbon pricing scheme, to the implementation stage. At today’s meeting, I described relevant policies and developments in other countries and also explained the contents of the new policy measures and the challenges for implementation, including the issuance of a GX economy transition bond, which is a government transition bond—a type of bond unprecedented anywhere in the world—and investment promotion measures worth 20 trillion yen to be financed by the proceeds from the bond. From the council’s members, I received suggestions that Japan should quickly enter the implementation stage and implement world-class measures without being constrained by precedent, and opinions regarding the importance of transition finance, among other matters. We will quickly implement the measures in light of today’s discussion.
As for the details of the meeting, the administrative staff will give you a briefing later.
Let me talk about the facilities for the discharge of ALPS-treated water. Construction has been proceeding under the completion target of the end of the first quarter of this fiscal year. Yesterday, June 26, the necessary work, such as removing the shield machine, was finished. I have heard that the construction is expected to be completed today after the trial operation, which is being conducted at the same time. We hope that the work will be done with a continued sense of tension in order to ensure safety.
At the Ministerial Meeting on ALPS-treated water in January, we indicated that the discharge of ALPS-treated water into the sea will be started around spring to summer this year, after the completion of construction of the facilities for the discharge, pre-use inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority following the construction, and the issuance of the IAEA’s comprehensive report.
I have heard that the construction is expected to be completed today and also that pre-use inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority will start on June 28 if things proceed smoothly. The IAEA’s report is also expected to be issued in the not-so-distant future. We will make every possible effort to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage and also provide careful explanations over and over again to local stakeholders while engaging in close communication.
Q: Yesterday, the Japan Investment Corporation (JIC) announced that it will acquire JSR, which handles semiconductor materials. I would like you to comment on the acquisition plan and express your opinion on the approach to strengthening the domestic semiconductor industry’s international competitiveness.
A: I understand that JIC plans to exercise leadership to lay the foundation for implementing structural reforms and promoting industrial restructuring by turning JSR Corporation into a privately owned company (unlisted company).
It is up to JIC to make specific investment decisions, but in this case, JSR, which plays a core role with respect to semiconductor materials, will promote structural reforms and business restructuring in order to increase the international competitiveness of the semiconductor materials sector. Semiconductor materials are the key to the development and production capacity of advanced semiconductors, the core element of future industrial competitiveness. I recognize that this is a very important initiative toward strengthening Japan’s industrial competitiveness.
As you know, as JSR possesses a very high level of technological expertise, it is one of the core companies that are contributing to Japan’s global market share of photoresists, which is 90%. I understand that JSR is a company that can provide solutions for various development and production activities as a comprehensive manufacturer of semiconductor materials.
The company has also formed partnerships with Albany and Imec. My understanding is that this is an important initiative to enhance Japan’s competitiveness in the semiconductor materials sector in the future.