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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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


Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building

Opening Remarks

Development of next-generation memory

I will provide information about four points.
First, with regard to semiconductor-related projects, METI approves the development and production plan for next-generation memory in Hiroshima by Micron Memory Japan and Micron Technology. METI decided to provide financial support up to 25 billion yen for the development and up to 167 billion yen for the production plan.
This investment plan was presented by Micron this May, on the day preceding the G7 Hiroshima Summit, on the occasion of a social gathering with Prime Minister Kishida held at the Prime Minister’s Office. This is a plan to develop and produce advanced semiconductor memory that uses EUV, cutting-edge exposure equipment, and is used for generative AI, data centers, and autonomous driving, for which demand is expected to grow in the future.
Actually, market conditions have been worsening significantly since around last summer and companies have been in a tough situation. However, generative AI, data centers, and autonomous driving are fields where demand is expected to grow significantly in the future, as I just mentioned. Now, we are facing difficulties, but I think it is important to make robust investments at times like this. It is important to ensure a stable supply of advanced semiconductors, which will become increasingly necessary for Japan in the future, from the perspective of economic security.
Additionally, spillover effects to regional economies are expected. As high-quality jobs are created in local areas, young people will stay in the region potentially reversing the birthrate decline as well.
The effect of fostering human resources in the semiconductor-related field is also expected. METI will provide strong support for efforts by Micron, as well as by TSMC in Kumamoto, Rapidus in Hokkaido, KIOXIA and Western Digital in Yokkaichi and Kitakami. This Micron project is recognized as symbolic of the Japan-US collaboration like the Rapidus project. Details will be explained by the administrative staff.

ABCI Large-scale Language Model Building Support Program

Second, Japan is at the forefront regarding generative AI, and many companies are developing diverse and cutting-edge generative AI models. METI has been endeavoring to expand indispensable computational resources, and as a measure that can be taken quickly, METI has publicly sought applications for support for building large-scale language models (LLM) through the use of ABCI, the AI supercomputer system operated by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).
At the time of the first public invitation, Preferred Networks Inc. was adopted. We heard that the company developed a compact model with high performance both in Japanese and English, and that it published the outcomes on the 28th last month.
This time, for the second public invitation, as a result of examinations with the participation of outside experts, the National Institute of Informatics (NII) and ELYZA, Inc. were adopted. The NII and ELYZA Inc. are permitted to exclusively use approx. 20% and approx. 13% of ABCI’s computational capacity respectively. The NII is to start developing an LLM under this program from early October and ELYZA from mid-December.
ABCI is now being used by approx. 3,000 companies, each one of which is only using a small portion of it. On the other hand, those adopted companies are permitted to intensively use a certain capacity for a certain period to develop generative AI models. METI is also considering further expanding the computational capacity of ABCI itself.

Working Group of Experts for the Realization of GX

The third point is about the Working Group of Experts for the Realization of GX. The GX Promotion Act was enacted, making it possible for the government to take budgetary measures covering multiple fiscal years. In particular, the issuance of transition bonds by the government will likely be approved soon as the first example of such a measure in the world. By issuing transition bonds, the Government of Japan will provide advance support for development at a level of approx. 20 trillion yen in total. This year, the government plans to issue transition bonds of 1.6 trillion yen and will support diverse, innovative initiatives, such as efforts by industries with large CO2 emissions for making a shift to new production processes over multiple fiscal years.
Through such budgetary measures, the government intends to encourage investment from private companies and expects 150 trillion yen-level GX investment by the public and private sectors. Regarding GX investment, at the previous meeting of the GX Implementation Council, the Prime Minister instructed the Council to formulate sector-specific investment strategies by the end of this year in order to give shape to investment promotion measures in a strategic and predictable manner. Therefore, the Working Group of Experts for the Realization of GX will commence activities on October 5 to intensively deliberate draft strategies while gaining insights from experts.
Based on deliberations at the Working Group, Japan intends to lead the world with its technologies and innovation in the field of GX. The government will endeavor to set the Japanese economy on a sustainable growth path while encouraging investment from the private sector. Further details will be explained by the administrative staff.

Tokyo GX Roundtable

Fourthly, today, the Tokyo GX Roundtable will be held at the Prime Minister’s Office. I will also participate. Since last week, as a part of Tokyo GX Week, the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting and other events have been held, and experts in the field of GX are coming together from around the world.
At the same time, the Japan Weeks are being held and the Government of Japan intensively invited investors from overseas. Taking this opportunity, we will hold the Tokyo GX Roundtable with the intention of having discussions with foreign experts who lead various meetings during Tokyo GX Week and people from Japanese industries who are working for the development and introduction of innovative technologies that are effective in decarbonization.
Foreign experts will be requested to explain the details of the discussions at individual meetings and how Japan’s initiatives in the public and private sectors are evaluated by the rest of the world, and executives from Japanese industries will explain the efforts they are making to change their production processes to achieve carbon neutrality and in particular, action being taken in the steel and chemistry industries for making bold innovations. People making efforts towards achieving GX within households will also make presentations. Please ask the administrative staff for further details.

Nobel Prize

I would like to mention one more point. Dr. Karikó Katalin has been awarded the Nobel Prize for her studies on mRNA. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations, and I am truly grateful for her achievements.
When I served as Minister in charge of COVID-19 Control, we faced a situation where, in order to prevent the spread of this virus, there was no choice but to break contact among people, or suspend economic activities, and the government made an agonizing decision to declare a state of emergency. However, we were able to obtain a new weapon, a COVID vaccine. The mRNA technology made it possible to develop the vaccine in a short period of time.
In fact, there was a person who studied mRNA at the University of Tokyo, but unfortunately, a support system was not successfully developed in Japan either by the government or by the private sector. METI has provided support for studies on dual-use vaccines and drug discovery startups. We are hopeful for the emergence of Japanese human resources who will achieve technologies and innovation that will contribute to overcoming global crises, and certainly would like to offer support for such efforts. Like the advanced semiconductors and generative AI which I mentioned earlier, we would like Japan to lead the whole world with its technologies and innovation, and METI will facilitate measures for such advances.
Around 30 Japanese nationals have been awarded the Nobel Prize in the fields of both arts and sciences, but all have been men. Since the Abe administration, the government has promoted the increasing participation of women. There are many women with great talents in scientific fields. There were many such women among my graduating classmates. METI will develop a better environment for those women to exercise their abilities in the sciences and will offer support so as to produce excellent human resources who can work globally and ultimately be awarded Nobel Prizes.
This summer, on August 2 and 3, METI jointly held events at METI headquarters to give children potential ideas for their summer holiday period free research projects. Ordinarily, the events mainly target elementary school children, but this year, female high school and junior high school students who are especially interested in sciences were also invited and a lecture was delivered by a female senior who is working in the sciences. I am still hopeful that Japanese researchers, irrespective of gender, who have accumulated steady efforts will acquire the Nobel Prize this year. METI would like to support women who work actively in the sciences, in particular.

Last updated:2023-10-03