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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

1:05-1:16 p.m.
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Response to the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake

According to information from the local governments, more than 70 people died in the recent earthquake disaster. Once again, I would like to offer my condolences for the deceased and express my heartfelt sympathy for all the people affected by the disaster.

As of this evening, 72 hours will have passed since the occurrence of the earthquake. The efforts to rescue and save the affected people, which is a race against time, is at a crucial moment. The government will devote full efforts to the rescue activity, with saving lives as its top priority.

Moreover, now we are entering a phase in which the efforts to support the affected people begin in earnest. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is cooperating with relevant ministries and agencies to restore energy supply infrastructure for electric power, oil, and gas. METI is providing so-called push-type support with respect to the goods over which it has jurisdiction and increasing the supply of relief goods through convenience stores. It is also devoting efforts to strengthening financing support for SMEs and small businesses.

As for electric power, in Ishikawa Prefecture, around 29,800 households have no power. In Nanao City and Shika Town, power outages have been resolved except in areas where access is difficult. In Wajima and Suzu Cities and Noto and Anamizu Towns, while the inspection of facilities is underway, it is expected to take more time before electric power can be restored in light of the heavier-than-expected damage to the roads. A total of around 900 people, including Hokuriku Electric Power workers and those from other power companies, are engaging in the restoration work, and a system to use power source vehicles of other electric power companies has now been prepared.

Next, regarding oil, shipments have gradually resumed at some oil depots. At service stations, efforts to resume or continue supply are underway. In Ishikawa Prefecture, yesterday, it was confirmed that 38 service stations were operating, and the number of operating service stations has increased to 73 today. In the Oku Noto region, including Suzu and Wajima Cities, it has been confirmed that 15 service stations resumed operation. As there have been voices of concern over a decline in inventories, we are now making efforts to increase supply.

Regarding the supply of heating oil to Noto Town and Suzu City, for which arrangements were made yesterday, I have been informed that the oil was delivered in drums. In addition, in Suzu City, where the damage is particularly severe, the supply of electric power to service stations has been given priority, and the supply of fuel to emergency vehicles has been resumed. In Wajima City, following the reopening of the roads, diesel oil was delivered by small tanker trucks this morning. Furthermore, heating oil will be delivered today.

In order to restore electric power and secure the supply of fuel, we are already closely collaborating with or are requesting cooperation from business operators. Given that we are entering a phase in which support efforts are beginning in earnest, earlier today, I once again requested that the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the Petroleum Association of Japan, and Zensekiren further strengthen their restoration and support activities.

As for the supply of goods to the affected regions and shelter facilities, we are procuring goods with the cooperation of 31 companies and organizations, including convenience stores, supermarkets, bedding companies, and home appliance mass retailers. Essential goods, including 20 oil heaters, 9,500 blankets, around 3,800 rolls of toilet paper, and portable toilet kits that can be used 60,000 times have already been gathered at sites in Ishikawa Prefecture and have gradually been shipped by truck to the affected regions, including Wajima and Suzu Cities and Anamizu and Noto Towns. In addition, 80 oil heaters and 16,500 blankets are scheduled to be shipped.

As of yesterday, 82 temporary toilet facilities were shipped to the Oku Noto region. With the cooperation of relevant organizations, we are preparing to ship more within the next several days. At the same time, we have already started cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies on sanitary affairs, including arrangements for employing human waste treatment companies from other prefectures. We would also like to make advance preparations for procurement of goods for which the needs from the people affected by the disaster are expected to grow.

As for the financing of SMEs and small businesses affected by the disaster, special consultation counters have been established at branches of the Japan Finance Corporation, Shoko Chukin Bank, and credit guarantee associations. In addition, the Safety Net Guarantee No. 4 scheme, which provides a 100% guarantee for up to 280 million yen, has been applied under a framework that is separate from ordinary credit guarantee schemes.

In order to promptly identify the needs of the affected regions and cooperate closely with the local governments, a total of 22 METI staff members had been dispatched as of yesterday to the governments of Suzu and Wajima Cities, Noto, Anamizu and Shika Towns, and Nanao City, as well as to Hokuriku Electric Power. They are gathering information and conducting coordination work with relevant people. Two additional staff members will be dispatched to the government of Ishikawa Prefecture in order to strengthen the support system.

METI is resolved to do its utmost to respond to the recent disaster.

Last updated:2024-01-04