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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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


Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building

Opening Remarks

Introduction of State Ministers and Parliamentary Vice Ministers; Official visit to Canada; Tokyo GX Week

I will cover three points today.
First, as of September 15, new State Ministers and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers were officially appointed and METI’s new structure was inaugurated.
State Minister Iwata, State Minister Sakai, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Yoshida, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister Ishii took office. They all have diverse experience and abundant knowledge, including experience in engaging in economic and industrial policy. I intend to closely collaborate with them to deal with various issues.
Second, from tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20, to Saturday, September 23, I will officially visit Ottawa, the capital of Canada, which is one of the G7 members and an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region. During the visit, I will have meetings with relevant ministers of the Government of Canada. Japan hopes to strengthen mutual cooperation with Canada, especially in the battery supply chain between both countries, as well as in the fields of cutting-edge industrial technologies, such as quantum technology and AI.
Executives from Japanese battery companies will also visit Ottawa together with me, and we will hold a public-private roundtable meeting. We intend to utilize this official visit to Ottawa to further promote collaboration between Japan and Canada, in particular, to strengthen the supply chain for critical minerals related to batteries.
Third, from September 25 to October 5, an annual event, Tokyo GX Week, will be held as in the previous year. During the week from September 25, the Sixth Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting, the Third Asia Green Growth Partnership Ministerial Meeting, the Third Asia CCUS Network Forum, the Fifth International Conference on Carbon Recycling, and the Third International Conference on Fuel Ammonia will be held, and during the following week, the GGX x TCFD Summit, the Tenth ICEF, and the Fifth RD20 will be held.
On the first day of this year’s Tokyo GX Week, a plenary session where relevant ministers of participating countries all gather will be held for the first time. Aiming to simultaneously achieve energy security, decarbonization, and economic growth, Japan means to share knowledge on innovation, policies, and framework building that will enable us to achieve these goals and the importance of diverse approaches for achieving carbon neutrality broadly with participating countries.
Japan would also like to convey to the entire world its efforts and stance for innovation, including the development of cutting-edge technologies.
Based on this year’s outcomes as the G7 Chair, Japan intends to play a leading role in developing momentum toward the achievement of GX in the entire world.

Question-and-Answer Session

Economic policy; Arctic-2 LNG project

Q: First, let me ask you about economic policy. Prime Minister Kishida mentioned his intention to take measures to support people’s everyday lives amid price hikes, achieve structural wage increases against high prices, and strengthen moves toward increased investment. How will the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry implement those measures? Could you tell us your ideas at present?

Second, regarding the US sanctions against Russia, companies related to the Arctic-2 LNG project, in which JOGMEC and other Japanese companies have interests, are included in the scope of the sanctions. How will these sanctions affect Japan’s procurement of energy? How will the Government of Japan be involved in this project from now on? What do you think at present?

A: First, I will answer your question about economic policy. The times are changing significantly. We have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and an economic structure suited to the new times is required, incorporating DX and GX. Furthermore, we need to develop a new structure, including the strengthening of supply chains connecting diverse like-minded countries, as I mentioned earlier. Japan hopes to lead the world in creating innovation and strategically support necessary investment.

As the GDP gap has almost been eliminated, we plan to form a policy not for the purpose of boosting demand but for the purpose of robustly supporting investment and innovation to reform Japan’s economic structure to match the new era. To this end, we intend to deploy policies that will boldly encourage such investment and innovation.

In that process, increasing wages is one of the important factors, and it is also necessary to strengthen the foundations of SMEs to enable them to overcome price hikes and anticipated higher interest rates. We must also improve productivity. METI will secure a budget for underpinning the diverse efforts of SMEs and take measures such as for enabling them to smoothly pass costs on to prices and encouraging their endeavors to raise wages, based on instructions given by Prime Minister Kishida.

We are considering taking drastic measures to raise motivation and facilitate investment in the private sector. We will offer support in a venturous manner with the aim of setting the Japanese economy onto a sustainable growth path.

With regard to the US sanctions in relation to the Arctic-2 LNG project, we know about the SDN sanctions that the United States announced recently. Companies related to the Arctic-2 LNG project are included in the scope of the sanctions, but the project itself had been commenced before Russia’s aggression against Ukraine started and is not subject to the sanctions. We understand that the sanctions are imposed only on the relevant companies. At present, we are examining the impact of the latest US sanctions on the Arctic-2 LNG project, together with other stakeholders. Based on the examination results, Japan will make a judgment comprehensively and take actions appropriately, in collaboration with the United States and other G7 members, so that Japan’s stable energy supply will not be hindered.

In any case, we will closely collaborate with the United States to ensure that Japan can secure a stable supply of energy.

ALPS treated water

Q: Let me ask you about ALPS treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS. The Chinese embassy published a comment that China demands to participate in the monitoring of the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. Will this lead to the lifting of the suspension of imports of fisheries products from Japan? What do you think? Are you considering any concrete response?

A: We know that the Chinese embassy made a comment that a monitoring structure with the participation of neighboring countries and other stakeholders should be developed. Individual organizations in Japan are responsibly conducting monitoring of ALPS treated water and are publishing the results in a transparent manner. Under the framework of the IAEA’s review, the IAEA and several analysis organizations of third countries selected by the IAEA have conducted comparisons and assessments of the results of the monitoring conducted by the Government of Japan and TEPCO. The IAEA is also constantly and independently conducting analyses. The past review teams included Chinese experts, but the analysis organizations selected by the IAEA are those of the United States, France, the Republic of Korea, and Switzerland.

We understand that analysis organizations participating in the monitoring are to be selected by the IAEA from its independent standpoint while referring to its network of such organizations of various countries. Japan cannot and will never be involved in the process of selecting analysis organizations. The selection is to be made by the IAEA from an independent standpoint.

The Government of Japan has demanded China to make responses based on scientific evidence and to lift the suspension immediately, and we will continue demanding a proper response from China.

Last updated:2023-09-19