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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

1:32-1:44 p.m.
January 12, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Response to the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake and publication of a company list regarding the Price Negotiation Promotion Month

At the beginning, I would like to mention two points.

First, after the cabinet meeting, I attended a meeting of the Emergency Headquarters for the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake at the Prime Minister’s Office and reported the most up-to-date damage and response status. In addition, earlier, the emergency headquarters within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held a meeting.

Regarding the status of damage, first, around 12,700 households remain cut off from electric power. In line with the local governments’ requests, we have expanded the coverage of substitute power supplies using power source vehicles for shelter facilities with a capacity of 50 people or more. Power has been supplied to most areas except for those that are difficult to access. Regarding other shelter facilities, we are gradually checking their status.

In preparation for the snowfall expected this weekend, we will make sure to secure fuel for power supply vehicles while developing a system of collaboration with relevant parties.

It has been confirmed that 52 out of the 69 service stations in the six cities and towns in northern Noto are operating.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the snowfall this weekend, we are making advance deliveries of around 25,000 liters of heating oil, equivalent to 1,250 plastic storage containers, to the cities of Wajima and Suzu for use at shelter facilities. Working in coordination with the local governments, we will make every possible effort to secure fuel supplies. As for the supply of goods to shelter facilities in the disaster-affected areas, we will continue to increase the supply of cold weather protection goods in preparation for the snowfall this weekend.

In addition, in order to improve the sanitary environment in areas where there are concerns over the spread of infectious diseases, we have started to supply 100 indoor tents. We are also gradually providing around 33,000 blue tarp sheets and 2,500 pairs of work gloves in response to the growing need for house repairs.

Some 689 temporary toilet facilities, including those put in place by the government before receiving requests for support, have been installed in the cities of Wajima, Suzu and Nanao, and Uchinada Town, among other places, and an additional 48 are scheduled to be delivered.

To improve the convenience of temporary toilet facilities, we will also start the supply of relevant goods, including 250 attachments for changing Japanese-style toilets to Western-style ones and 300 lanterns.

Regarding SMEs and small businesses, METI issued a letter of request to prime contractors, relevant ministries and agencies, and prefectural governors across the country, asking them to take care to minimize the impact on SMEs and small businesses in the disaster-affected areas when doing business with subcontractors and placing orders related to governmental and public-sector demand.

Through those activities, METI will care for the people affected by the disaster and continue to do its utmost to respond to it.

Second, later today, we will publish a list of order placing companies regarding the status of price negotiation and price pass-through in September last year, which was designated the Price Negotiation Promotion Month.

This will be the third time we publish such a list. At this time, 220 companies, the largest-ever number, are on the list, including 81 that have been listed for the first time. The 139 companies that were listed in the past have improved their transaction policies in response to being included in the list. For example, the price pass-through rate among those 139 companies is higher than the rate among the 81 companies listed for the first time. I request all listed companies, including the 81 listed for the first time, to further improve their transaction policies in consideration of the assessments given by transaction counterparts.

The competent ministers will give instructions and advice on improving transaction policies to the top management of around 20 companies that were given unfavorable assessments by subcontracting SMEs based on the Act on the Promotion of Subcontracting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

In addition, it is extremely important for order-receiving companies and subcontracting SMEs to actively engage in price negotiation in order to secure funds for wage increases. Regarding those labor costs which have been difficult to negotiate and pass on prices for, the government has developed guidelines on price negotiations and is also making various efforts to support them, such as establishing support and consultation offices for subcontractors and SMEs and opening consultation counters regarding such negotiations. I hope that those companies will not hesitate to propose price negotiation after using those facilities and making sufficient preparations.

Just before the springtime wage negotiation round starts in earnest, the whole government will work to support price pass-through so that SMEs, which account for 70% of overall employment, can secure funds for wage increases.

The administrative staff will give you a briefing later to provide more detailed information.

Question-and-Answer Session

Joint Strikes against the Houthis by the United States and the United Kingdom, and the Onagawa Nuclear Power Station

Q: I would like to ask you about two points. First, the United States has announced strikes against the Houthis. What is your view on the impact on Japan?
Second, Tohoku Electric Power has announced the postponement of the restart of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Station. This is the second postponement. Could you offer a comment, if any, on that point?

A: Regarding the first question, the Middle East is one of the important regions supporting the global energy supply. I believe that easing the tension and realizing stability in the Middle East is extremely important.
My understanding is that at the moment, the incident that you mentioned has not had an impact on the supply of energy to Japan, but we will keep a close watch on the situation with high interest.
As for the second question, about Onagawa, I am aware that on January 10, Tohoku Electric Power announced that the timing of the restart of Unit 2 of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Station, previously scheduled for May this year, will be delayed several months in light of the status of the safety improvement work.
All we have to say is that we want Tohoku Electric Power to continue the work while giving the top priority to safety.

Last updated:2024-01-12