*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building
LNG Producer-Consumer Conference 2023 and visit to India and Bangladesh
At the beginning, I would like to mention two points.
First, from 4 p.m. today, we will hold the LNG Producer-Consumer Conference 2023. This is the first LNG Producer-Consumer Conference to be co-hosted with the IEA in the history of the conference, which has continued for more than 10 years.
The co-hosting of this conference has been realized following my proposal to create an opportunity for dialogue between the IEA and LNG producer and consumer countries at an extraordinary IEA ministerial meeting held online in February this year, in order to hold not only short-term discussions on how to tide over the forthcoming winter but also long-term discussions on how to prevent the recurrence of crises.
At the conference, first, I would like to propose starting discussions on strengthening the IEA’s functions in the natural gas and LNG sectors in order to prevent the recurrence of this energy crisis. I also plan to announce a new framework for public-private cooperation regarding how to reduce methane emissions in the LNG value chain, which is an urgent challenge.
In addition, together with Chairman Sadamori, a representative of the IEA, I will announce worldwide the LNG Strategy for the World, a strategy for the global market, which summarizes the discussions at the conference and measures taken by countries to stabilize the natural gas and LNG markets, as the chairs’ summary of the conference.
The details will be announced at today’s conference. After the conference, the administrative staff will give you a briefing.
Second, from July 19 to 25, I will visit India and Bangladesh in order to attend the G20 Energy Transitions Ministerial meeting, the 14th Clean Energy Ministerial meeting, and the 8th Mission Innovation meeting, and hold meetings with government officials of various countries.
At these meetings, in order to achieve energy security, decarbonization, and economic growth at the same time, I would like to vigorously emphasize the importance of pursuing an energy transition along diverse paths, realizing worldwide decarbonization, and promoting innovation. I would also like to disseminate information on Japan’s potential to contribute to achieving global carbon neutrality through its decarbonization technology.
Around the time of the conferences, I will visit Delhi, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh and exchange opinions with economic ministers about bilateral economic cooperation to strengthen relationships.
Regarding India, I plan to announce a Japan-India industrial co-creation initiative with a view to a future new economic relationship between the two countries. This year, India is expected to surpass China and become the most populous country in the world. I hope to realize economic growth in India and Japan, ensure that Japanese companies contribute to economic growth in India, and to build and further develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
As for Bangladesh, to further strengthen the relationship between Japan and Bangladesh, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations last year, I am scheduled to participate in business events and hold meetings with relevant ministers.
Economic sanctions against Russia and ALPS treated water
Q: Let me ask you about two points.
According to a media report, as part of the economic sanctions against Russia, Japan will expand the scope of restrictions, which now covers only luxury vehicles, to include hybrid vehicles, light vehicles and used vehicles. Please clarify the facts and comment on the report.
Also, regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, China has indicated that it will tighten restrictions on imports of Japanese foods, and the Hong Kong government has announced a ban on imports of fishery products from 10 prefectures. Please comment on that and tell me about how you will respond to those measures. On the other hand, the EU has announced that it will remove all import restrictions. Please also comment on that.
A: First, regarding additional sanctions against Russia, the leaders reached agreement at the G7 Hiroshima Summit. I understand that the United States and Europe have made decisions on additional sanctions concerning passenger vehicles. Japan has not made any decision on the specifics of the sanctions, but on May 26, Cabinet approval was given for the implementation of additional sanctions concerning goods that contribute to the strengthening of Russia’s industrial infrastructure. Based on this Cabinet approval, we will consider specifically what measures to take in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies while taking into consideration the additional U.S. and European sanctions.
As for ALPS treated water, we have already been providing careful explanations about the discharge of the water into the sea to various countries and regions. Last week, on July 12, a Japanese government delegation visited the Hong Kong government and explained the safety of the discharge of ALPS treated water. Japan strongly called for not tightening restrictions further. It is very regrettable that under these circumstances, the Hong Kong government announced on the afternoon of July 12 that it will suspend imports of fishery products from 10 prefectures if ALPS treated is discharged into the sea.
On the other hand, I understand that last week, on July 13, the EU decided to lift import restrictions on Japanese foods in light of the explanations provided by Japan and the conclusions presented by the IAEA’s comprehensive report. As that was announced in the EU gazette on July 14, it will become effective 20 days later, on August 3.
The Government of Japan has used every opportunity to request the EU and EU member countries at various levels to lift the restrictions as soon as possible. I myself used such opportunities as the Japan-EU High-Level Economic Dialogue, which was held last month, and my visit to Europe in May, to request the EU and member countries to lift the restrictions as soon as possible. The decision made at this time will curb reputational damage and strongly support the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas. I welcome the decision.
As you know, the IAEA’s comprehensive report concludes that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea conforms to international safety standards and that the effects of radiation on humans and the environment will be negligible. We will continue to provide information, including the contents of the report, with a high level of transparency based on scientific evidence. We will also continue to strongly call for not tightening the restrictions.
As for China, we have repeatedly expressed our readiness to engage in expert-level communication from the scientific perspective, but it has not yet responded to our offer.
In any case, we will continue to assiduously provide information on the safety of the discharge, including the contents of the IAEA’s comprehensive report, with a high level of transparency based on scientific evidence.