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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

9:25 to 9:33 a.m.
Friday, February 9, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Decision on support for the development of next-generation semiconductors

At the beginning, I would like to mention one point.
Today, we decided to provide support to the Leading-edge Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC) with respect to the development of design technology for 2-nanometer AI semiconductors and the development of technology for “beyond-2 nanometer” semiconductors as a new research and development project to realize next-generation semiconductors based on international cooperation.
The recipient selected for this current support, LTSC, in which major domestic research and development institutions and academia are participating, is expected to play the central role in the joint research and development on next-generation semiconductors based on international cooperation.
This project is expected to lead to demand creation for the 2-nanometer semiconductor manufacturing business, in which Rapidus is engaged, by developing design technology for AI semiconductors that simultaneously achieve high performance and low power consumption.
Moreover, by developing technology related to leading-edge semiconductors that are more advanced than 2-nanometer semiconductors, the project is also expected to achieve the sustainable enhancement of Rapidus’s competitiveness.
For detailed information, please consult with the administrative staff.

Question-and-Answer Session

Construction of TSMC’s second factory

Q: The other day, TSMC announced that it will construct its second factory in Kumamoto. What is your reaction to that? Also, at this time, Toyota newly announced that it will make an investment in the project, and what do you think of the significance of that?
The participating companies announced that the investment is premised on strong support from the government. Please tell me about your thoughts on the support.

A: On February 6, TSMC, Denso, Sony and Toyota announced the construction of JASM’s second factory in Kumamoto Prefecture on the premise of support from the government of Japan. First of all, we welcome the decision by TSMC and other companies to make a large-scale investment.
In particular, the fact that Toyota, an automaker that is a large user of semiconductors, has decided to make an investment will contribute to the strengthening of the automobile supply chain in Japan.
In addition, from the viewpoint of the creation of quality jobs and regional investment, I hope that this, together with JASM’s first factory, will have significant spillover effects on the local economy.
As of now, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has not decided to provide support, but we are continuing communication with the TSMC side. If the TSMC side submits a plan that contributes to the stable supply of advanced semiconductors, METI will closely examine it and, if the plan has been judged to meet the legal criteria, it will decide to provide support. That is the arrangement.

Leakage of water containing radioactive substances at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

Q: The day before yesterday, at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, water containing radioactive substances leaked from the equipment that purifies contaminated water. What is your reaction to that, and also what guidance will METI provide to Tokyo Electric Power?
Please also explain the impact that this incident may have on the future discharge of treated water into the sea.

A: On February 7, at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, during the washing process at the facility that purifies contaminated water, a water leak occurred from the exhaust pipe on the wall of the building in which the equipment is installed. This incident is subject to the legal reporting requirement. Although the leaked water contained radioactive substances, there has been no change in the amount of radiation detected at the monitoring posts located along the nearby drainage canals, nor on the boundary of the premises. I was informed that it has been confirmed that currently there has been no impact on the areas outside the facility.
I have also heard that the removal of the soil into which leaked water may have absorbed started yesterday. As for the cause, I understand that at present, Tokyo Electric Power is conducting checks on the details. I would like Tokyo Electric Power do its utmost to identify the cause and ensure safety, taking measures for the prevention of recurrence, and also to make thorough efforts to disseminate easy-to-understand information. To this end, we already provided guidance to that effect on February 7, the day when the incident occurred.
I understand that this incident occurred during the washing process at the facility to remove cesium and strontium before the ALPS purification process.
In addition to this facility, there are other similar purifying facilities. I have heard that in the purifying process at those facilities, purification will be conducted on the premise of applying measures to prevent the recurrence of this incident, so there will be no impact on the treatment of contaminated water or on the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea.
In any case, we will continue thorough efforts to identify the cause of this incident, prevent its recurrence and ensure safety with the highest possible alertness.

Last updated:2024-02-09