1. Home
  2. Press Conferences and Statements
  3. Press Conferences
  4. Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

11:36-11:52 a.m.
Friday, January 19, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Response to the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake

To begin I would like to mention four 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 on the most up-to-date status of damage and response.
Yesterday, on behalf of the government’s Emergency Headquarters, I listened directly to urgent requests from the mayors of the local communities affected by the disaster with respect to the rebuilding of daily lives and livelihoods. Once again, I felt that future support measures are important for removing concerns associated with life at shelter facilities.
Recently, in order to start in earnest a study on support measures, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held a meeting of the headquarters on support for disaster-affected SMEs and small businesses, which I head. I listened to the voices of people from commerce and industry organizations, traditional industries and financial institutions in the disaster-affected areas and other areas.
Different regions within Ishikawa Prefecture are faced with different phases of recovery—for example, in Oku Noto, the top priority is the restoration of tap water and other infrastructure, while in Nanao City and the areas to the south, government support for restarting livelihoods is necessary as the restoration of infrastructure is in progress. Meanwhile, at hot spring spas in Kaga, as reservations are being cancelled one after another due to harmful rumors, it is necessary to promptly implement measures to promote tourism. Moreover, it has become clear that in cases where the effects of past earthquakes are lingering, or where some loans associated with COVID-19 are still outstanding, special consideration needs to be given to traditional industries that have suffered devastating damage. It has also become clear that it is essential for relevant ministries, agencies, and organizations to take concerted action with an eye to post-reconstruction community development, including the restoration of infrastructure and facilities such as Japanese-style inns.
As for support measures, we are undertaking final coordination work in order to prepare a livelihood subsidy program that may be used for the restoration of buildings and facilities damaged by the disaster. In addition, to reopen sales channels for small businesses, we will publicly invite applications for the subsidy program for the business continuity of small businesses as early as next week without waiting for the decision on reserve funds. We will implement support measures while continuing to closely monitor the situation on the frontlines.
Next, regarding the status of damage, around 7,500 households remain cut off from electric power. Power has been supplied to large shelter facilities. Regarding other shelter facilities, we are also promoting power supply in ways that suit the needs on site, for example by deploying power source vehicles, while taking local governments’ requests into account.
With respect to fuels, it has been confirmed that 53 service stations are continuing to operate. While continuously making advance deliveries, we are developing a system to secure necessary fuel in cooperation with the local communities.
Regarding the supply of goods to the disaster-affected areas and shelter facilities, we will continuously supply daily necessities, such as paper dishes and disposable chopsticks due to the elongation of stays at shelter facilities. In addition, in light of the need for laundry-related goods, we have procured 10,000 packs of makeshift laundry bags and 5,000 bottles of clothing detergent.
As for temporary toilet facilities, 858 facilities, including those installed by the government, have been installed, and additional 66 or more are scheduled to be delivered. At the same time, we will continue to carefully respond to requests from the frontlines, for example by also supplying goods to make life more convenient.
Through those activities, METI is supporting the people affected by the disaster and will continue to do its utmost to respond to the disaster.

Sanriku-Joban Weeks

Second, in order to limit and remove reputational damage related to the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea and disseminate information on the attractiveness of foods produced in the Sanriku-Joban region, and promote the consumption of those foods, we will hold the third round of the Sanriku-Joban Weeks from January 22 to March 24, following the previous rounds in the spring and summer of last year. During this period, we will hold events to disseminate information on the attractiveness of the local foods and call for a further increase in the consumption of those foods at employee cafeterias and as lunch box meals through the Sanriku-Joban Mono Network, in which more than 1,100 companies are participants. In addition, government ministries and agencies will actively purchase lunch box meals.
We will continue to do our utmost to limit and eliminate reputational damage, for example by disseminating information on monitoring data related to the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea with a high level of transparency and by making continuous efforts to increase the consumption of foods produced in the Sanriku-Joban region.
For detailed information, the administrative staff will provide a briefing later.

Support for Business Operators Affected by Halted Production at Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd.

Third, following the recent production halts at Daihatsu, METI conducted a survey with Daihatsu’s transaction counterparties, including suppliers, on the impact of the production halts on sales from December 25 to January 12.
As a result of the survey, we heard many voices of concern over financing, and it was also found that among SMEs that rely largely on transactions with Daihatsu, a substantial number of companies are facing declines in sales.
Therefore, starting today, we will establish special consultation counters to address requests from the affected SMEs and small businesses in terms of financing and other matters at government-affiliated financial institutions and commerce and industry organizations across the country, including chambers of commerce and industry and commerce and industry associations, and at regional bureaus of economy, trade and industry. At the same time, starting on January 26, we will invoke Safety Net Guarantee No. 2 as a financing support measure, enabling credit guarantee associations to provide 100% guarantees for loans borrowed from private-sector financial institutions worth up to 280 million yen each under a framework that is separate from ordinary guarantee schemes.
For your information, I have heard that in February and beyond, Daihatsu will continue its existing guarantee scheme for prescheduled orders, making payment regardless of records of past business transactions. The government will also continue to strongly call on Daihatsu to deal with transaction counterparties carefully, in ways that address their concerns. The government will also provide meticulous support for business operators facing difficulty due to the production halts.

Seventh Meeting of the Council on Spent Fuel Management

Fourth, regarding spent fuel management, which is one of the important challenges related to the nuclear fuel cycle policy, on the major premise of ensuring safety, we are strengthening efforts to expand storage capacity through cooperation between the public and private sectors based on the Spent Fuel Action Plan formulated in 2015. To steadily promote the efforts, today we will hold the seventh meeting of the Council on Spent Fuel Management. After verifying the status of efforts by business operators and their policies, I will directly make requests with respect to the matters that I want them to address in the future.
That is all I have to say.

Last updated:2024-01-19