Kishida, Biden agree to step up advanced technology cooperation

by May 19, 2023Featured Article, News

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday agreed to closely cooperate to address Beijing’s assertive behavior and step up bilateral cooperation on semiconductors and artificial intelligence amid increasing U.S.-China technology competition.

At their talks in Hiroshima a day before the Group of Seven summit opens, the two also reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the bilateral security alliance and recognized that the U.S. nuclear deterrence provided to Japan is “essential” for the security of the key Asian ally and the East Asian region, according to a Japanese official.

“The Japan-U.S. alliance is a cornerstone of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Kishida said at the outset of the talks, while Biden said that “the whole world is safer” when the two allies, with shared values, stand together.

Both leaders affirmed their resolve to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russia’s invasion, and committed to work together to address regional security challenges, such as North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and “coercive behavior” by China that “runs counter to international law,” the White House said in a press release.

Kishida and Biden also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, according to the Japanese and U.S. governments, reflecting their concerns over China’s pressure on Taiwan, a self-ruled island which Beijing views as a breakaway province to be united with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Highlighting their deepening cooperation on emerging technology, the two countries said they plan to launch new partnerships between U.S. and Japanese companies and universities in areas like quantum computing and semiconductors.

Kishida told Biden that Japan is considering setting up a hub to promote the launch of startups in Tokyo in 2028 at the earliest, with the cooperation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Kishida also mentioned a factory in Hiroshima Prefecture run by U.S. chip giant Micron Technology Inc’s Japanese unit as a “good example” of bilateral cooperation in the semiconductor field that should continue to be supported.

They also agreed on efforts to establish “diverse and resilient critical minerals supply chains,” at a time when China’s strong position on critical technologies and resources, such as semiconductors and rare earth materials, is causing concern.

Biden arrived in Hiroshima earlier in the day, becoming the country’s second sitting leader after Barack Obama to visit the city devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in the final stages of World War II in 1945.

The three-day G7 talks from Friday come as a rift between the major democracies and the China-Russia camp widens, with Beijing making extensive territorial claims in the East and South China seas and its economic clout growing while Moscow continues its military aggression against Ukraine.

North Korea, meanwhile, has test-fired a spate of ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan since the beginning of last year, with speculation lingering that the country might conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017 and seventh overall.

With trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea key in dealing with regional security challenges, Biden commended Kishida on “his courageous efforts” to improve bilateral ties with South Korea, according to the White House.

Tokyo-Seoul relations have been rapidly improving after President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May 2022 and takes a “future-oriented” approach toward Japan, announced in March a proposal for solving a wartime labor compensation row that had long soured bilateral ties.

On the fringes of the summit, Kishida and Biden are considering holding a trilateral meeting with Yoon, according to diplomatic sources. Yoon was invited to the G7 gathering as a guest, and will join three outreach sessions.

At the G7 summit, Kishida, who represents a Hiroshima constituency, and Biden will also discuss nuclear disarmament and economic security, among other issues, with their counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union.

Biden’s trip to Japan had been overshadowed by the stalemate in domestic negotiations over the U.S. government’s debt ceiling. He initially planned to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia as well as Japan but has cut the trip short to attend the G7 summit only.