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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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

8:37-8:47 a.m.
Friday, November 24, 2023
Restaurant, House of Councillors Building


Opening Remarks

Approval of a plan for securing the supply of combustible natural gas

I want to mention one item at the beginning.

Today, METI will approve a plan for securing the supply of combustible natural gas that was submitted by JERA Co., Inc., based on the Economic Security Promotion Act. LNG plays an important role in the supply of electricity and gas in Japan, but the supply and demand for natural gas and LNG are expected to become tighter globally. Accordingly, the Government of Japan intends to secure a surplus of LNG strategically in preparation for temporary supply disruptions due to emergencies such as a failure of facilities in natural gas producing countries.

The surplus of LNG under the plan to be approved today is called Strategic Buffer LNG, or SBL. We will continue to take all possible measures to secure a stable supply of LNG, including the securing and operation of SBL, through public-private collaboration.

The Government of Japan is regularly communicating with natural gas producing countries to confirm a stable supply of LNG. However, in preparation for emergencies, we are endeavoring to strategically secure a surplus under the Economic Security Promotion Act.

Question-and-Answer Session

ALPS treated water

Q: Today, on November 24, three months have just passed since the commencement of the discharge of ALPS treated water from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi NPS. On the 20th of this month, the third round of discharge was completed, but in October, there was an incident in which workers were exposed to wastewater. How do you evaluate the progress of the discharge so far?

A: Based on the monitoring results so far, I understand that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea has been conducted safely. Last month, the IAEA's review was conducted and the IAEA commented that the discharge is progressing as planned and without any technical concerns. The Government of Japan expressed its commitment to thoroughly securing safety while continuously welcoming reviews and checks by the IAEA and to publishing all monitoring results regarding sea water and fish in a highly transparent manner. We will surely provide information inside and outside of Japan.
Regarding last month's incident in which workers were exposed to wastewater, as you mentioned, TEPCO presented its recurrence prevention measures, such as the strengthening of measures in terms of facilities and on-site confirmation to ensure thorough safety management. We ask TEPCO to thoroughly implement those measures immediately and will provide strict guidance. I heard that the Nuclear Regulation Authority will also conduct an inspection and deliberations. Also based on the inspection and deliberation results, we will continue to provide guidance to TEPCO so that it will make the utmost efforts for securing safety.

Perovskite solar cells

Q: I will ask you about perovskite solar cells (PSCs). According to the announcement of a Chinese company, it is preparing for commencing sales in the market next summer. In this field, China seems to be leading Japan. What do you think of this situation? Additionally, how has the Government of Japan supported the development of this technology? In order to win international competition, relevant companies are requesting the Government of Japan to back up their efforts for commercialization, in particular. Could you additionally explain METI's support measures, if any?

A: Perovskite solar cells are sheet-shaped and lightweight and can be attached to a wall. They have an advantage in that they can be easily installed on various types of buildings. Additionally, their raw material is iodine, which is being produced in a certain amount in Japan. Therefore, they are promising as domestically produced solar cells. It is true that international competition is becoming fierce, but I think that Japanese companies are superior in terms of the durability of PSCs and the technology to make them larger.
METI plans to publicly seek applications for large-scale demonstrations for achieving early practical use of PSCs within this fiscal year by making use of the Green Innovation Fund. For mass production of PSCs, METI included the budget for supporting the development of the supply chains in its budgetary requests for the next fiscal year. We would like to carry out relevant measures so that Japanese companies can compete internationally with such a scale of investment and speed and can achieve public implementation ahead of companies in other countries.

Last updated:2023-11-24