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Press Conference by Minister Nishimura (Excerpt)

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

10:48-11:01 a.m.
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Results of selection for the post-5G project

To begin, I would like to mention one point. Regarding the post-5G project, under which research and development is conducted on critical technologies for a post-5G era and for which funds have been secured under the supplementary budget in the previous fiscal year, today, I announce the selection of Preferred Networks, Inc. as the winning applicant for research and development of ultra-high performance AI computing infrastructure.
Recently, due to the rapid spread of AI, reducing the electricity consumption of computing resources has become an urgent challenge. Under this research and development project, in addition to reducing the electricity consumption of AI-related semiconductors, we would like to reduce the electricity consumption of all computing resources in a comprehensive manner through measures such as improving cooling efficiency using water cooling and optimizing the allocation of computing resources to data processing needs.
To enhance the capacity to develop generative AI, it is important to promptly secure computing resources first, and looking further ahead, we would like to strengthen industrial competitiveness on a broad basis.

Question-and-Answer Session


Q: I have a question related to COP.
At COP 28, which is now being held, 22 countries, including Japan, have declared that they will triple global installed nuclear power generation capacity by 2050. Please tell me why Japan supports this initiative and how Japan plans to contribute to the achievement of the goal.
At present, under Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan, the share of nuclear power in the power source mix is planned to be increased from 20% to 22% in FY2030. Please also tell me whether the support for the initiative will affect the future share of nuclear power generation.

A: First, as many countries are aware of the great importance of using nuclear power for achieving global carbon neutrality, 22 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the UAE, and Japan, made the declaration you mentioned at this time. I understand that the countries announced the policy of cooperating toward the goal of tripling global nuclear power generation capacity by 2050 compared with that in 2020 while recognizing differences in individual countries’ domestic circumstances.
Japan supports the declaration to triple global nuclear power generation capacity with a view to contributing to the goal. More specifically, the statement issued at the Sapporo G7 meeting, at which I served as chair, mentioned efforts to support the introduction of innovative reactors to third countries considering the use of nuclear power and to enhance supply chain resilience in cooperation with like-minded countries. Through those efforts, Japan would like to contribute to respective countries’ activities suited to their own circumstances.
Additionally, as you pointed out just now, under the Strategic Energy Plan, Japan aims to increase the share of nuclear power generation from 20% to 22% by 2030 by continuing its use on the necessary scale on the premise of ensuring safety. This policy remains unchanged despite the declaration made at this time. At the moment, it is not assumed that Japan will triple its own capacity by 2050. However, as I mentioned earlier, Japan will engage in activities such as providing technical assistance and support related to supply chains and human resources development as countries conduct activities suited to their unique circumstances.
Please be reminded that Japan has not changed its policy of restarting nuclear power stations on the major premise of ensuring safety while obtaining local communities’ understanding.

Meeting with NVIDIA

Q: Earlier, you had a meeting with NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang, and at the beginning of the meeting, he indicated some business investment plans in Japan, including the establishment of a research and development base. Please tell me about the specifics of your discussions and about your thoughts on what kind of support the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will provide.

A: Following my recent meeting with Mr. Jensen Huang in San Francisco, I met with him again today. Broadly speaking, he mentioned three points, namely a research and development base that you mentioned just now, cooperation with and investment in AI-related Japanese startups, and AI-related human resources development and education. He said that as a prerequisite, NVIDIA will appropriately respond to Japan’s request for the supply of GPUs for Japanese AI-related computing resources. He had mentioned this point in San Francisco, and he reaffirmed it today.
In addition, he mentioned the establishment of a research and development base and the importance to develop large language models, LLMs. Furthermore, he touched on the area of robotics, in which Japan has an advantage—around 50% of robots used in the production lines of manufacturing industries in the world come from Japan. He expressed very strong expectations for the development of AI systems in the field of robotics, the development not only of language models but also so-called multi-modal models, which can handle video images as well.
In particular, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, or AIST, and NVIDIA have maintained cooperation for many years. They have been cooperating with regard to the supply of GPUs, and at this time, I suggested the strengthening of the partnership with AIST, and he expressed his willingness to work out the specifics.
AIST engages in robotics development, possesses computing infrastructure called ABCI and has received a supply of GPUs. At this time, I mentioned plans to strengthen the ABCI infrastructure, develop models and reinforce computing resources with supplementary budget funds totaling 190 billion yen, and he expressed appreciation for those efforts. Therefore, we would like to speed up the development of generative AI in Japan in cooperation with NVIDIA.

Last updated:2023-12-05