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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

6:51-7:05 p.m.
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Ishikawa prefectural government


Opening Remarks

Visit to Ishikawa Prefecture

With the reserve funds on which the Cabinet decision was made yesterday, we have provided for the livelihood subsidy scheme for the rebuilding of the livelihoods of disaster-affected business operators, the program to support the rebuilding of disaster-affected shopping streets and related facilities which will increase the flows of people through customer-attracting events and provide for the restoration of arcades and street lamps, and the subsidy scheme to support traditional craft industries, which are preparing for a rapid restart of business.

To promptly inform the disaster-affected communities and companies of the launch of those measures, yesterday, we held the second meeting of the headquarters on support for the disaster-affected SMEs and small businesses at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. I explained the measures directly to relevant people, such as representatives of the local communities and commerce and industry organizations who will work as a team.

Today, I visited Nanao and Wajima Cities and the Ishikawa prefectural government in order to inform them of those measures in person and carefully consider what measures can be taken in the future.

Even though water and other infrastructure facilities have yet to be restored, today, I heard several impressive and encouraging accounts of events on the ground. When I visited the Wakura hot spring spa area, around 1,000 guests were staying there on January 1 when the disaster struck. I heard that to keep the guests from feeling discomfort, the innkeepers there, with the stance of “customers first” despite the damage the disaster caused to themselves, did their best to enable the guests to return home in as much comfort as possible and that on January 2, the guests were sent off homeward. Of course, although rebuilding and protecting the structures of the inns is important, I feel strongly that the spirit of the hot spa innkeepers must also be protected. I also listened to what the people at Takazawa, a maker of traditional Japanese candles, had to say. At their facilities, I met with young people striving to preserve the tradition, who started a crowd funding initiative immediately after the disaster with the determination to rebuild their business. I also met with people producing soy sauce using wheat and soybeans cultivated in Noto despite the fact that usually, wheat and soybeans are imported from abroad. I was impressed with the lady from the soy sauce-producing family business called Torii, who told me that although she considered discontinuing the business at first, she has decided to continue thanks to the encouragement she received from the people around her. Meanwhile, I believe that Wajima lacquerware is the greatest lacquerware in the world. Even though the artisans have been forced to relocate to taken shelter in various places, I gained a sense of their strong determination to achieve success in rebuilding their business. Protecting industries and businesses that are striving hard to survive in the affected areas is a mission that METI must fulfill. This inspection visit was extremely meaningful as it provided me with a new-found realization of the need to firmly support those people. Regarding the measures adopted at this time, I expect that the challenges and policy needs will probably change in line with the progress in reconstruction. So, we would like to launch measures in accordance with the phase of reconstruction while maintaining close collaboration with relevant parties. Support is available from commerce and industry organizations, including chambers of commerce and industry, and there are also support organizations for SMEs and other companies. We will do our utmost in a concerted effort with the local governments, relevant ministries and agencies and other relevant organizations.

Last updated:2024-01-27