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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

7:13-7:25 p.m.
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Upon taking office

I am Saito Ken. I have been appointed as Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Minister in charge of the Response to the Economic Impact Caused by the Nuclear Accident, Minister for Green Transformation, Minister in charge of Industrial Competitiveness, Minister for Economic Cooperation with Russia, and Minister of State for the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation in the second cabinet reshuffle under the second Kishida administration. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

The policy areas under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are very wide-ranging, including international trade, industry, energy, and disaster response, and we are facing many challenges in each area. In particular, I understand that there is a mountain of urgent challenges that must be addressed without any delay, such as the preparation for EXPO 2025 Osaka, Kansai, which will open in around 450 days from now, the reconstruction of Fukushima, which is still the most important challenge for METI 12 years after the disaster, and the effort to put GX into practice.

Forty years ago, I joined the then Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The surrounding environment has changed a lot since then, but I aim to perform my duties with the same initial resolve that I had when I joined the ministry. I will devote myself whole-heartedly to international trade and industrial policies.

Question-and-Answer Session

Priority policy areas and restoration of trust in the government

Q: Congratulations on your appointment as Minister. First, I will ask a couple of questions. As you mentioned at the beginning, there is a huge pile of critical challenges in the policy areas under the jurisdiction of METI, such as energy policy and promotion of domestic investment. As you used to work for METI, to which specific matters among others would you like to devote your efforts?
Also, because of the recent political fund issue, the approval rate for the Cabinet has been falling according to various polls. In this situation, how do you intend to restore trust in the government?

A: First, among the challenges facing METI, now is the time for me to exercise leadership so that the ministry will do its utmost to make a success of EXPO 2025 Osaka, Kansai, which will open around 450 days from now as I mentioned earlier, while cooperating with relevant ministries and agencies.
We would like to advance preparations so that the Expo can become an event where various people coming from around the world inspire each other and foster the pioneering spirit of taking on the challenge toward “designing future society for our lives.”
Having said that, METI is not concentrating only on the Expo, but also covering other wide-ranging areas under its jurisdiction.  I myself have the experience of working in around a dozen sections. Among other challenges, as the Japanese economy is in the current situation, I would like to realize sustainable economic growth by all possible means.
At the moment, there are some good signs, such as domestic investment and wage increases, so I believe that a bold industrial policy is necessary to consolidate this trend.
With respect to energy and environmental policies, as you know, a mountain of challenges stands in our way, such as measures to mitigate the impact of sudden changes in energy prices, nuclear policy initiatives, including the restart of reactors and the nuclear fuel cycle, the expansion of renewable energy and the realization of GX. We would like to steadily address each of these.
The reconstruction of Fukushima continues to be the most important challenge facing our ministry. The government will take full responsibility for proceeding with the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, which started in August this year. At the same time, we would like to steadily promote the reconstruction of the disaster-affected areas by making efforts toward lifting the evacuation order for the restricted areas, by promoting exchanges of people, and by creating new attractions involving cultural and artistic endeavors.
While I mentioned various things, I have been reminded of the great breadth of the areas under the jurisdiction of METI as well as the mountain of important challenges.
As for the approval rate, frankly speaking, as a politician, I cannot say that this is not a concern However, ultimately, the most important thing is to steadily perform my duties and obtain understanding.

Last updated:2023-12-14