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Press Conference by Minister Saito (Excerpt)

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

9:03 to 9:12 a.m.
Friday, March 8, 2024
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building

Opening Remarks

Nissan Motor Corporation’s Violation of the Subcontract Act

At the beginning, I would like to mention three points.
First, yesterday, March 7, the Japan Fair Trade Commission issued a recommendation to Nissan Motor Corporation because an act of violation of the Subcontract Act’s provision that bans the reduction of payment for subcontracting work was found with respect to the handling of refunds used in the company’s transactions with subcontractors.
It is very regrettable that a case like this has happened at a time when the public and private sectors are working as one to promote the correction of transaction practices, such as cost pass-through to prices, on a supply chain-wide basis in order to realize wage increases larger than price increases among small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) as well.
I have called on Nissan Motor Corporation to take the recommendation seriously and also to make thorough efforts to develop internal systems for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, conduct periodic checks on the status of compliance, and promptly report the status of its efforts to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to correct transaction practices.
METI will widely request industries to make efforts to prevent similar acts of violation of the Subcontract Act, and it will also continue to make efforts to rectify problematic transaction practices through surveys intended to identify the status of transactions.

Comprehensive package for business rehabilitation support

Second, today, METI, together with the Financial Services Agency and the Ministry of Finance, formulated a comprehensive package of measures to support rehabilitation.
In order to prepare for the final peak of repayments of private-sector “zero-zero loans” coming in April this year, we will extend the period of financing support measures related to COVID-19, such as guarantees for refinancing by borrowers affected by COVID-19, until the end of June this year and enhance support for SMEs’ management improvement and business rehabilitation.
More specifically, we will firmly support SMEs’ management improvement and business rehabilitation through the improvement of the quality of support provided by credit guarantee associations based on the revision of the supervisory guidelines for those associations and the enhancement of the functions of the SME revitalization associations, which are responsible for business rehabilitation support.
In order to widely raise awareness about those measures, I, together with other relevant ministers, will request public and private financial institutions to take appropriate actions and will explain the specifics of the measures to SMEs in an easy-to-understand manner.
As for detailed information, the administrative staff will give you a briefing later.

Participation in the 2024 Memorial Ceremony for the Great East Japan Earthquake

Third, March 11 marks the 13th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. On that day, I will participate in the 2024 Memorial Ceremony for the Great East Japan Earthquake, which will be hosted by Fukushima Prefecture.
I will lay flowers while offering my heartfelt sympathy to the people affected by the disaster and praying for the souls of the deceased.
The reconstruction of Fukushima and the safe and steady decommissioning of Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station are the most important tasks for METI. Going forward, we will continue to devote our full-fledged efforts to those tasks while providing earnest support for the people affected by the disaster so that reconstruction can be achieved as early as possible.

Question-and-Answer Session

IAEA’s inspection of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

Q: I have a question related to nuclear power stations.
It has been decided that the IAEA will investigate the status of improvement of anti-terrorism measures taken at Tokyo Electric Power’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station, starting on March 25. Also, next week, IAEA Director General Grossi is scheduled to inspect Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and check the current status of the discharge of treated water. Please tell me about your expectations regarding those two proceedings.

A: With respect to Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station, I understand that following the additional inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority regarding protection against radioactive substances, Tokyo Electric Power is now making voluntary improvement efforts.
As I informed President Kobayakawa at the end of last year, I hope that the company will continue independent improvement efforts in order to regain the trust of the local community and society by actively incorporating the viewpoints of external organizations, such as the IAEA. Regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, Japan has so far repeatedly undergone reviews by the IAEA to check its safety.
At this time, during IAEA Director General Grossi’s visit to Japan, I understand that he is scheduled to conduct an onsite inspection following the start of the discharge into the sea. We would like to continue thorough efforts to ensure the safety of ALPS treated water in the long term while undergoing strict reviews by the IAEA.

Tightening of U.S. regulation on semiconductors

Q: I have questions related to semiconductors.
U.S. President Biden is requesting allied countries, including Japan, to tighten restrictions on China’s access to semiconductor technology. Please tell me about your reaction to that and about the impact it may have on semiconductor-related industries in Japan.

A: First, Japan routinely engages in various sorts of communication with relevant countries, including the United States, about export controls in general. However, as for the details, I would like to refrain from answering your question because diplomatic affairs are involved in this matter.
Regarding semiconductor-manufacturing equipment, in July last year, Japan started to implement a measure to strengthen export controls from the viewpoint of maintaining international peace and security. As Japan is steadily implementing that measure, we are not planning for the moment to implement a new measure.
Also, I would like to remind you that Japan’s export controls regarding semiconductor-manufacturing equipment cover all regions and that we do not have any particular country in mind.

Last updated:2024-03-08