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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

9:51 to 9:59 a.m.
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Hydrogen Society Promotion Bill and CCS Business Bill

Good morning. At the beginning, I would like to mention one point.
Today, a cabinet decision was made on two bills, the so-called Hydrogen Society Promotion Bill and the CCS Business Bill. In order to realize carbon neutrality by 2050, in addition to making thorough energy conservation efforts and promoting the use of decarbonized power sources, such as renewable energy and nuclear power, it is essential to promote the GX initiative in sectors where decarbonization is difficult.
Therefore, following the enactment in 2022 of the revised Act on Rationalizing Energy Use and the enactment last year of the GX Promotion Act and Act on Power Sources for Green Transformation and Decarbonization, we will submit to the current Diet session a bill to promote the supply and use of low-carbon energy and hydrogen power and a bill to develop a business environment related to CCS.
Based on those bills, we will promote GX in the steel, chemicals and some other industries and in sectors where decarbonization is difficult, such as mobility and power generation.
Regarding the details of the bills, the administrative staff will give you a briefing later.

Question-and-Answer Session


Q: I have a question related to the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting that was held online last week.
I understand that a draft WTO reform was discussed in preparation for MC13, which is a WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi at the end of this month. In a joint communiqué released later, I understand that regarding the dispute settlement function, agreement was reached on continuing to pursue reform to improve it and on reaching some conclusion by the end of fiscal 2024. However, with regard to the restoration of the Appellate Body’s functions, the fact is that there have been differences in position within the G7. So, with what stance does Japan intend to approach MC13? What does Japan regard as the most important challenge in WTO reform?
One more question. I assume that it has not yet been decided who will attend MC13. Please tell me about the possibility of your attending it.

A: Thank you.
I believe that last week’s G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting was meaningful as we shared the importance of the WTO once again and confirmed close cooperation for successful convening of MC13.
As you pointed out, it is true that there are differences of position within the G7 with respect to the restoration of the Appellate Body’s functions, but Japan believes that it is extremely important to maintain and develop the rules-based, free and fair trade order. From that standpoint, we would like to make active contributions to discussions so that the WTO can continue to play its role as an effective framework. In particular, to answer your question from the viewpoint of showing that the rules-based trade system is functioning, we attach importance to the following four points.
The first point of importance is to fully restore the functions of the dispute settlement system by the end of 2024. The second point is to continue the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions. The third point is to promote rule-making using negotiations between interested countries, including those on electronic commerce, over which Japan serves as co-convenor. The fourth point is to expand deliberations on the interrelationships of trade with modern challenges, such as industrial policy and climate change. We would like to focus on these four points.
As for whether I will attend the meeting, if the Diet schedule is taken into consideration, I assume that it is difficult for the moment to arrange my attendance. However, even if I won’t be able to attend the meeting, we would like to arrange the participation of some appropriate person so that Japan can make substantial contributions to discussions.

Last updated:2024-02-13