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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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

8:32-8:41 a.m.
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Cafeteria of the House of Representatives

Opening Remarks

Measures for balancing power supply and demand during winter, and official visits to Viet Nam and Thailand

I will cover two matters today.

First, measures for balancing power supply and demand during winter will be formulated at today's council. This winter, it is estimated that an electricity reserve rate of at least 5% can be secured in January and February. Therefore, the national government will not issue a request for power saving.

A request for power saving imposes a burden on consumers and should be issued only when it is absolutely necessary in consideration of the status of power supply and demand. This winter we will not request power saving, as we have secured a sufficient reserve rate.

On the other hand, there are structural problems, such as the dependence on aging thermal power plants, while efforts for decarbonization need to be promoted. We are determined to cope with these issues.

On the demand side, toward shifting to energy-saving economic and social structures, it is important to support companies introducing energy-efficient equipment and households installing insulated windows, highly efficient water heaters and other equipment. In collaboration with relevant ministries and agencies, we would like to formulate an economic package incorporating measures for realizing economic and social structures that are resilient to energy crises.

On the supply side, on the major premise of ensuring safety, we would like to proceed with the restart of nuclear power stations while endeavoring to obtain the understanding of local people. We would like to restart the Onagawa, Shimane, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, and Tokai No. 2 NPSs, for which installation permits have already been obtained. The use of nuclear power contributes to securing a stable supply of energy and promoting decarbonization. We will direct the relevant measures properly.

Additionally, we would like to accelerate measures for power systems, such as reinforcing interconnection lines.

Second, this week, from the night of November 2nd to the 5th, I will make an official visit to Hanoi, Viet Nam, and Bangkok, Thailand. In Viet Nam, we will hold the Sixth Meeting of the Japan-Vietnam Joint Committee on Cooperation in Industry, Trade and Energy. For Thailand, as this is the first visit after the inauguration of the new administration there, we are making arrangements for meetings with new ministers. I would like to build a favorable relationship with the new administration.

Around 30 Japanese startups will accompany me on these official visits. We will hold events for startups in Viet Nam and Thailand, which are both growing Asian countries. I will also attend the events. I hope that those startups take this opportunity to seek cooperative business with local companies and promote open innovation.

Question-and-Answer Session

Economic "2+2" Ministerial Meeting

Q: There is news coverage stating that Japan and the United States are making arrangements to hold the Economic "2+2" on the occasion of the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November. Could you explain the status of scheduling at present and what you would like to discuss intensively at the "2+2" as the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry? Please explain your view at this point in time.

A: Regarding the Economic "2+2" that you mentioned, arrangements are being made to hold the meeting at an appropriate time and place based on schedules of the four ministers. The concrete schedule and agenda are still being arranged, but under this framework, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry would like to strengthen the rules-based economic order, enhance economic resilience, protect and develop critical materials and emerging technologies, and enhance the resilience of supply chains in order to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific. We would like to expand and deepen Japan-US economic cooperation.

Positioning of Southeast Asia

Q: You said that you will officially visit Viet Nam and Thailand from November 2. In the past, South-East Asia has been important for Japan as a source of human resources and labor, and in the last ten years, Japanese plants in China have gradually moved to this region, which is now positioned as a location for manufacturing bases for Japan. This time, startups will accompany you on the official visits, and the positioning or economic significance of Southeast Asia for Japan seems to be changing substantially. What do you think about the positioning of Southeast Asia for Japan or Japan's economic expectations amid such ongoing changes?

A: This year marks the 50th commemorative year of ASEAN-Japan relations. We have presented our future vision, and one of the keywords is co-creation.

ASEAN countries now enjoy the most rapid growth rates worldwide. They are undergoing population increases, have lots of young people, and are full of energy. I think it is very important to create a future economy together with the people of those countries. Supply chains mainly for automobiles have already been built, but they should be further updated to meet the needs of the new era. In that process, in promoting digitalization and the transition to a green economy as well as solving various social problems in Asia, startups are expected to play an important role with their mobility, action, and new ideas.

We should carve out a path to the new era jointly with growing ASEAN countries via Japan's technologies and funds. In that sense, I think that ASEAN countries are important partners toward the new era.

Last updated:2023-10-31