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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

11:14-11:27 a.m.
Thursday, February 22, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building


Opening Remarks

Official visit to Kumamoto

First, I will tell you one thing.
On February 24, the day after tomorrow, I will officially visit Kumamoto. I will attend the opening ceremony to be held in Kikuyo Town in Kumamoto of the first fab of Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM). The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decided to provide support for this project in June 2022. I would like to also visit the fab on that day. I am glad that the fab was completed without any trouble and that the opening ceremony will be held soon.
Prior to the opening ceremony, I plan to exchange views with Dr. Mark Liu, Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), and Mr. Kabashima, Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, respectively. I hope to hear their views on further vitalizing the Japanese semiconductor industry.
After the opening ceremony, I also plan to exchange views with Mr. Ogawa, President of Kumamoto University, regarding the fostering of semiconductor human resources, and will visit and see semiconductor-related educational facilities.

Question-and-Answer Session

JASM's first fab

Q: I would like to ask you two questions regarding your first remark.
Now that JASM's first fab is completed, please tell us what impact this will have on the strengthening of domestic supply chains for semiconductors.
Additionally, what do you think of the fact that the fab was brought to completion in a very short period of time, compared with cases in other countries, and what is your view on how the fab can be fully utilized to Japan's advantage in the future restructuring of global supply chains?

A: The first fab of JASM (TSMC), the opening ceremony of which is going to be held soon, is to form Japan's first manufacturing base for logic semiconductors ranging between 12 to 28 nanometers, the demand for which is expected to further increase in the Japanese automobile industry and other industries from now on. The fab will provide a missing piece in the supply of semiconductors in Japan. Therefore, I expect that the fab will contribute significantly to strengthening supply chains for the Japanese industries as a whole.
In terms of economic effects, capital investment in the manufacturing industry in the seven prefectures in Kyushu for FY2023 is expected to be more than doubled year on year, with a record high rate of increase. We consider that this project has been triggering many semiconductor-related companies to express their intention to make new investments domestically and has been creating significant economic ripple effects.
As you pointed out, the first fab, which normally requires three years for construction, was completed in one and a half years. I would like to express my heartfelt respect for the efforts made by the related parties including construction companies.
In addition to the speed of construction, various elements such as the strong cooperation offered by Kumamoto Prefecture and other local municipalities, solid supply chains, and the quality of human resources constitute the strength of Japan. I recognize that such strength is highly regarded and has led to the recent announcement of the company's plan to construct its second fab.

ALPS treated water

Q: Almost half a year has passed since the commencement of the discharge of ALPS treated water from Fukushima Daiichi NPS. What are your thoughts on reaching this point?
As China's suspension of imports of fisheries products from Japan is still continuing, please also tell us about your view concerning support for people engaging in the fisheries business from now on.

A: The results of the monitoring so far show that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, which started last August, has been progressing as planned, and safety has been confirmed. The IAEA review mission also conducted monitoring after the commencement of the discharge and confirmed that ALPS treated water had been discharged safely.
We will continue making the utmost efforts to ensure safety and to carefully provide relevant information domestically and internationally.
Notwithstanding that, China has imposed import restrictions on fisheries products from Japan. The Government of Japan has been endeavoring to maintain communications with China at various levels and will continue strongly to urge it to immediately lift the measures.
Except for the impact of the import restriction measures, we have not heard about significant price declines of fisheries products or other serious reputational damage at the moment, but we will continue implementing a policy package for protecting the fisheries industry against the measures and will conduct all possible initiatives to support people engaging in the fisheries business.
I think that our measures to support the expansion of sales channels and the diversification of export destinations have been producing certain outcomes. With regard to scallop exports, for example, as of last December, they recovered to a level similar to that seen in the previous year thanks to increases in exports to the United States and other countries.
Domestically, the amount of consumption of scallops for two-or-more-people households increased by 1.4 times from the previous year. I appreciate the kind cooperation of the general public.
While meticulously hearing about the situation, we will make the utmost efforts to support people engaging in the fisheries business nationwide through implementing the policy package.

IPEF Supply Chain Agreement

Q: The Supply Chain Agreement of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) will take effect in five countries, including Japan and the United States, on February 24. Could you explain your view on this and the significance of the Agreement?

A: As you are aware, the IPEF is an initiative aiming to create a new economic order suited for the 21st century in the Indo-Pacific region with collaboration among Japan, the United States, and other countries representing the Global South, such as India, Indonesia, and Thailand.
The IPEF Supply Chain Agreement, one of the pillars of the initiative, is the first multilateral agreement concerning supply chains and is to take effect on February 24, the day after tomorrow. Under the Agreement, it is expected that cooperation in relation to supply chains in ordinary times and in emergencies will be promoted among reliable member countries and that we will be able to make Japanese supply chains more resilient in cooperation with other like-minded countries.
More specifically, when the Agreement comes into effect, member countries first identify key goods in ordinary times and prepare an action plan to diversify supply sources and enhance the resilience of the supply chains of those articles. In case of a supply chain disruption, the relevant country can ask member countries for help. In order to ensure such advantages of the Supply Chain Agreement promptly take effect, Japan will continue cooperating closely with the United States and other member countries.

Last updated:2024-02-22