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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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


10:23-10:39 a.m.
Friday, October 20, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Recycling Day and SBIR

I will talk about two points.
First, today, October 20, is Recycling Day in Japan. This date was chosen in 1990 as the numbers “10” and “20” signify resources being recycled once and twice (the “1” and the “2”) in a circle (the “0”). Though at first not widely known, eight ministries and agencies, including METI, have expanded this idea to designate every October as Reduce/Reuse/Recycle (3R) Promotion Month, and have been jointly making efforts to increase the understanding and cooperation for the 3Rs as a nationwide public movement.
The recycling rate of general waste in Japan is 19.9%, which means, for example, 1,200 tons of clothing are disposed of every day as 120 10-ton truckloads. Thus, there is much room to improve. The Government of Japan is carrying out initiatives to achieve a circular economy and we recently held a dialogue session on this subject with the participation of Prime Minister Kishida. We would like to promote 3R activities and strengthen efforts for achieving a resource recycling society, or a so-called circular economy, with government-industry-academia collaboration, while taking advantage of Japan’s advanced technological capabilities.
Secondly, we will announce the companies selected for Phase 3 of the Small/Startup Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. As we have previously stated, companies conducting feasibility studies were selected for Phase 1 of the SBIR Program, and for Phase 2 companies at the stage of developing practical applications were selected. Phase 3 is a support program for companies that will conduct large-scale technology demonstrations for social implementation. This is a program to connect the research and development of startups to government procurement.
This time, we will announce the selection results for large-scale technology support. Through public invitation procedures, 17 startups including deep tech companies were selected.
The materials will be provided later, but ispace, which unfortunately failed in its moon landing at the last moment last year, but this time, support of 12 billion yen is to be delivered to the company. ispace will conduct a series of technological demonstrations for design, production, assembly, launch, and operation of a lunar landing system.
Regarding flying vehicles, two companies, SkyDrive and teTra aviation, were selected. They will develop vehicles and conduct demonstrations so that they can show their achievements in Osaka toward the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai.
Additionally, companies utilizing diverse technologies relating to satellites were also selected. Some of these companies are ones that I officially visited before, or which accompanied me upon my official visits overseas. They are expanding their business into global markets as well, while further enhancing the sophistication of their technologies.
The program will also support businesses utilizing data and those relating to drones, for which needs are increasing significantly.
We intend to strongly support the efforts of startups, which aim to function as a driving force to create innovation and to lead the world with their technologies for facilitating digitalization, addressing climate change, and achieving carbon neutrality in the new era.

Question-and-Answer Session

US export controls on semiconductors

Q: Let me ask you about the United States’ export controls on semiconductors. On October 17, the US Government tightened controls on the export of semiconductors to China. What do you think the impact of the strengthened export controls on Japan’s semiconductor strategy will be, and what measures will the Government of Japan take?

A: Last October, the United States started to take export control measures to properly regulate sensitive goods and technologies due to concerns over the risk of sensitive technologies being used for military purposes. On October 17, the United States announced the amendment of the relevant measures. I heard that the amended measures will be enforced in one month. In our estimation, this amendment by the US on export controls on semiconductor manufacturing equipment is at the same level as Japan’s export control measures for semiconductor manufacturing equipment, which were enforced on July 23. We think that they will contribute to ensuring an environment for fair competition.
At the same time, the United States also amended export controls on AI chips, a unique measure only adopted by the United States. Japan is not included in targeted export destinations and exports to Japan are not covered. However, some countries are subject to the amended export controls, and we are checking whether there will be any impacts on Japanese companies doing business in those countries. No significant impacts are foreseen at this point in time. We will continue to monitor impacts on Japanese companies. The Government of Japan has been maintaining good communication with the US Government and will continue to do so regarding the coming implementation of the export controls. Relevant information will be appropriately provided to businesses.

Last updated:2023-10-20