U.S., Japan vow to defend international economic order, eye chip development

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The United States and Japan on Friday vowed to defend an open, rules-based international economic order amid challenges posed by China and Russia, while pursuing joint development of next-generation semiconductors through a research hub Japan has decided to launch.

The announcements were made as the two countries’ foreign and economy ministers met for their inaugural “two-plus-two” talks, as addressing economic vulnerabilities has become more vital for their national security with China increasing its clout in the Indo-Pacific and Russia’s war against Ukraine sparking food and energy supply concerns.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, the two close security allies said they need to make their economies “more competitive and resilient,” committing to “countering threats to economic security and to the rules-based international economic order.”

They also came up with an action plan focusing on efforts to strengthen supply chain resilience, counter economic coercion and opaque lending practices, and secure critical technologies and infrastructure.

“In an era in which foreign security policy and economic policy are inseparable, we have been able to open a new page in the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said after attending the talks, which were co-hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Washington.

While the joint statement did not explicitly name China, the U.S. side indicated that efforts to beef up economic security are driven by the assertiveness of the Asian powerhouse and its use of economic leverage to pressure other countries into concessions.

“We addressed the People’s Republic of China and how its coercive economic practices go against an open, inclusive rules-based international economic order,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with Raimondo, Hagiuda and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Touching on a bill the U.S. Congress passed on Thursday that would invest $52 billion in domestic semiconductor production, Raimondo said the funding will strengthen partnerships with allies like Japan in the sector, and “make us less dependent on our adversaries for such a critical piece of technology.”

The four ministers agreed to advance efforts to foster supply chain resilience in strategic sectors, including, in particular, semiconductors, batteries and critical minerals.

The semiconductor supply chain has come under increasing scrutiny as the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a global shortage of the essential components used in everything from smartphones and laptops to cars as well as national defense systems.

To accelerate the joint development of next-generation semiconductors, expected to be used for artificial intelligence and other purposes, Japan announced the launch of a new research and development organization that will bring together Japanese expertise.

“It will be made open to overseas businesses and research institutes, inclusive of Japan, the United States, and likeminded countries in the region,” Hagiuda said, adding he hopes to make it into “a hub for international joint research.”

They agreed to strengthen investment in the energy sector and ensure energy resources in the near term, including liquefied natural gas, in response to the current crisis, and pledged to work together to create more resilient nuclear supply chains.

“The United States and Japan stand for open, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth that delivers prosperity, upholds democratic values, reduces economic disparities, and protects human rights in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” the joint statement said.

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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