*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Friday, July 28, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building
Ban on Exports to Russia
First, in response to the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, a Cabinet decision was made today with respect to the amendment of the Export Trade Control Order related to the ban on exports of goods that contribute to the strengthening of Russia’s industrial infrastructure based on the Cabinet approval given on May 26 in order for Japan to contribute to the international efforts toward world peace. The amendment will be promulgated on August 2 and put into effect on August 9. As a result, exports to Russia of motor vehicles with engine displacement over 1,900 cc, hybrid passenger vehicles, and tires for large vehicles will be banned, starting on August 9.
METI will make sure to implement the export ban in cooperation with the international community including the G7, and with relevant ministries and agencies while keeping a close watch on the situation surrounding Ukraine.
As for detailed information, the administrative staff will provide a briefing later.
GX Promotion Strategy
Second, today, a Cabinet decision was made with respect to the Strategy for Promoting Transition to a Decarbonized, Growth-Oriented Economic Structure, which is known as the GX Promotion Strategy.
The GX Promotion Strategy, based on the GX Promotion Act, has been formulated in line with the Basic Policy for the Realization of GX, on which a Cabinet decision was made in February this year in light of the discussions at the GX Implementation Council. Based on this strategy, we will quickly implement policy measures in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies.
Going forward, we will implement measures worth 20 trillion yen over the next ten years to promote advance investment in research and development and public implementation of decarbonization technology using GX Transition Bonds, the issuance of which has been enabled by the enactment of the GX Promotion Act in the recent ordinary Diet session. These measures also include the expansion of transition finance, and growth-oriented carbon pricing.
Approval based on the Act on the Promotion of Ensuring National Security through Integrated Implementation of Economic Measures (the Economic Security Promotion Act)
Third, today, we approved plans for technology development and capital investment based on the Economic Security Promotion Act.
Specifically, regarding semiconductors, we will provide up to around 20 billion yen in subsidies for five projects, including subsidies for Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation and Iwatani Corporation, in order to support the production and stockpiling of semiconductor materials such as rare gases, which are indispensable for the manufacturing of semiconductors. From the viewpoint of strengthening the semiconductor supply chain, we aim to expand the domestic production capacity of raw materials that represent the more upstream portion of the parts and materials sector.
With respect to machine tools and industrial-use robots, we will newly approve Nidec Drive Technology Corporation’s plan related to the expansion of its production capacity of decelerators for industrial-use robots. In this field, we will provide up to 40 billion yen in subsidies, including subsidies for projects that have already been approved. Through the series of support measures, we aim to expand the domestic production capacity of control-related equipment, which significantly affects the performance of machine tools and industrial-use robots and is also important from the economic security perspective.
Going forward, we would like to firmly secure the development and domestic production of sensitive technologies and materials that are strategically indispensable.
Visit to Iwate and Miyagi
Fourth, I will visit Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures tomorrow, July 29.
In Miyagi Prefecture, I am scheduled to meet with the prefecture’s fishermen’s association. I will provide explanations and exchange opinions about the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea.
The disposal of ALPS treated water is an unavoidable step in proceeding with the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. I will again provide in-person explanations regarding the need for the disposal of ALPS treated water and the efforts to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage to officials of the fishermen’s association and listen to their opinions. I would like to maintain close communication with the local fishermen.
In addition, I would like to observe the progress made in and challenges related to activities at advanced production and research bases through an inspection of KIOXIA Iwate Corporation’s flash memory factory, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology’s (AIST) Tohoku, and a next-generation synchrotron radiation facility located within Tohoku University’s campus, which is known as NanoTerasu, and through an exchange of opinions with startups developed from Tohoku University.
ALPS treated water
Q. I would like to ask you about the foreign response to the plan for the discharge of treated water.
Recently, the Hong Kong government has tightened the inspection of radioactive substances when importing Japanese products. The Hong Kong government has also indicated that it will ban imports of products from 10 prefectures if the discharge has actually started. In mainland China, too, there have been delays in customs clearance of Japanese foods.
The Government of Japan has been emphasizing over and over again the safety of the plan for the discharge and the safety of Japanese foods based on scientific evidence. Please tell me about your thoughts on the fact that China and Hong Kong have taken those actions and about how METI will deal with this matter.
A: Regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, we have been providing careful explanations to various countries and regions. We have strongly called on China to hold discussions based on scientific evidence. In addition, the Government has expressed concerns over the tightening of import inspection. Japan is also strongly requesting the Hong Kong government not to further strengthen restrictions.
Moreover, at the recent Energy Transitions Ministers’ Meeting in India, which I attended, I explained that the matter of ALPS treated water is being addressed based on scientific evidence and international standards while referring to the conclusions of the IAEA’s comprehensive report, published this month: that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea conforms to the international safety standards and that the impact of radiation on humans and the environment is negligible.
We will continue to provide and disseminate information, including the report’s contents, based on scientific evidence and with a high level of transparency.
Going forward, there will be various opportunities, so we will use those opportunities to continue to provide explanations at all levels, including my own.
In any case, we would like to call for response based on scientific evidence.
Technology transfer regulation in China
Q: I have one question.
Regarding office equipment, including multifunction machines, a media report says that the government of China will partially revoke the policy of requiring technology transfer from foreign companies. What are your thoughts on that report?
A: I am aware of that media report, but my understanding at the present time is that China has not officially announced a plan to partially revoke the policy of requiring technology transfer related to office equipment. Therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting on that.
That said, generally speaking, I understand that requiring the domestic implementation of the processes of developing, designing and manufacturing products and parts is problematic under the WTO rules because that leads to forcible technology transfer.
We have already obtained information indicating that the government of China is considering developing new national standards for information security that are targeted at office equipment manufactured and procured in China. Therefore, at relevant WTO meetings, Japan called on China not to require domestic development and production or take measures that effectively lead to forcible technology transfer. The Government will keep a close watch on future developments in order to protect Japanese companies from unjust disadvantages. As I mentioned earlier, Japan will strongly call on China to conform to the WTO rules and refrain from resorting to such forcible technology transfers.
Ban on exports to Russia
Q: With respect to the sanctions against Russia, you earlier expressed an intention to tighten the sanctions concerning motor vehicles, keeping in step with the United States and Europe. Please tell me once again about the purpose and significance of tightening the sanctions.
A: This means that Japan will implement the export ban in cooperation with other G7 countries. The main reason is for Japan to contribute to the international efforts toward world peace in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Japan will resolutely deal with this matter in cooperation with the international community.