Press Conference by the Prime Minister on the Response to China’s Suspension of Imports of Marine Products, Support Measures to Protect the Fisheries Industry and Other Matters

August 31, 2023

[Provisional translation]


I would like talk about our response to China’s suspension of imports of marine products from Japan and support measures to protect the fisheries industry. Let me first point out that TEPCO will compensate for the damage caused by the complete suspension of imports by specific countries, such as China. However, prior to this, we will make full use of a series of measures, such as promotion of domestic consumption using the 80-billion-yen fund already in place, support for temporary purchase and storage by fishery groups, and reducing fuel costs. In this way, the Government will do its utmost to ensure that the livelihoods and businesses of Japan’s fisheries industry will be handed down to the generations of our children and grandchildren in a vibrant and sustainable manner. In addition, the Government has decided to flexibly provide support depending on the situation. China’s latest action to suspend imports will have a focused and grave impact on specific marine products, such as scallops that were heavily dependent on exports to China, as well as on specific regions. We hope to overcome the confusion caused by the latest suspension of imports and stop relying solely on the Chinese market, by taking advantage of the growing global popularity of Japanese cuisine to ensure the sustainable and stable development of the livelihoods and businesses. For this purpose, we will establish an urgent support program for preparing more options in expanding market channels rather than being dependent on specific countries. Specifically, we will provide support to help cover a wide range of essential costs, including those for introducing shucking machines and measures to secure manpower for this purpose, as well as those for supporting bold sales and distribution activities to penetrate new overseas markets. In addition, we will promptly expand existing measures such as support for the promotion of domestic consumption, as part of our thorough efforts to support the fisheries industry nationwide. As indicated, I have instructed Minister Nishimura and Minister Nomura to compile a policy package focused on these five pillars by the beginning of next week. I place importance on speed and urgency. We plan to flexibly secure the budget, including the use of reserve funds, to swiftly put these measures into action.
(On how the Prime Minister plans to approach the Chinese Government towards the lifting of the suspension of imports, and what kind of diplomacy he plans to pursue to gain the understanding of countries other than China and to expand sales channels)
Japan has so far provided explanations, including specific data and figures, to China and the rest of the international community. Regarding the Japan-China Summit Meeting, no specific date has been set, but we will persistently demand that China and other countries respond in a manner based on scientific grounds. Japan has taken many opportunities to propose to China that we engage in bilateral communication from scientific and professional viewpoints. In doing so, the Japanese side has clearly specified its specialized authorities, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy and the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, to propose a concrete schedule for holding scientific communication between these relevant authorities and their Chinese counterparts. We hope that the Chinese side will accept these proposals as soon as possible. In addition, within the G7 and through other frameworks, we have engaged in careful communication and provided detailed information on the current situation, including the initiatives by the Japanese side. Japan will continue to make such efforts, and it has so far been regarded as having demonstrated a high level of transparency based on scientific grounds by many countries like the United States, Australia, Pacific Island countries and European countries. We plan to continuously disseminate as much information as possible regarding the details of such evaluation and reactions from other countries, among other things. In addition to the initiatives I have just mentioned, Japan plans to provide support for activities such as business matching for switching export destinations to countries such as the United States and Southeast Asian countries, as well as for efforts to tap overseas markets and enhance branding.
(On his reaction to the remark by Minister Nomura, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which referred to ALPS treated water as contaminated water)
The remark in question is regrettable, and I have just instructed Minister Nomura to make a full apology and retract the remark.
(On the effectiveness of the latest support measures)
My point is that the Government will do everything it needs to do in response to what is actually happening, and does not refer to the level of confidence. I will have to refrain from making any comment based on speculation regarding future developments, but I have said from the outset that the Government will take the lead in dealing with this issue in a responsible manner. We will continue to closely monitor the upcoming developments, and above all, as I said earlier, we will continue our efforts to provide explanations and reach out to China and the rest of the international community. At the same time, I have explained that the Government will steadily do what it needs to do regarding domestic measures as well. We will steadily carry out these initiatives, and some of these initiatives will require cooperation from the people. While gaining their understanding on the current situation and the Government’s efforts, we will do our utmost to protect Japan’s fisheries industry.
(On whether China’s latest complete suspension of imports was within expectations)
While we have been providing explanations on Japan’s efforts for quite some time in an attempt to gain understanding, we were also expecting to see various reactions once Japan started discharging the treated water. In order to steadily respond to various developments, we have also made various preparations, including the 80-billion-yen fund. Taking full advantage of these various measures we have put in place, the Government will continue its efforts to protect the fisheries industry.


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