US-Japan Tech Cooperation Offers Comprehensive List of Opportunities in 2022


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Innovators in Japan develop new technologies to fight coronavirus

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In November 2021, the newly elected Japanese government followed through on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s plans to make Japan a global force in the semiconductor supply chain by approving approximately US $ 6.8 billion for the Japan’s national semiconductor industry. A large portion of these funds will go to finance the Sony and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) factories in Kumamoto, Kyushu.

The initiative signals a change in Japanese policy in line with the government’s goals as set out in the 6e Basic plan for science, technology and innovation.

The Kishida government’s record spending on science and technology (S&T) research and development (R&D) demonstrates broad strategic alignment with long-standing U.S. technological and economic priorities in critical and emerging technologies. The resilience of the supply chain, the reliability of the basic technological infrastructure and the preservation of advanced technologies against threats such as theft of intellectual property from China are key elements.

As such, the growing strategic and economic implications of the relationship between the United States and Japan are expected to continue to play a larger role in the broader bilateral relationship as we move forward into 2022. Both sides anticipate the first face-to-face meeting between Prime Minister Kishida and President Joe Biden. in Washington earlier this year. Relationship watchers should be on the lookout for key developments at this time, and throughout the year, to assess how the S&T relationship continues to develop.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

First leaders meeting in Washington

Although Prime Minister Kishida briefly met President Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, he has yet to make his first visit to Wsashington as Prime Minister.

Initial plans for the high-profile visit were pushed back to early 2022 due to lingering concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. But when the two leaders finally meet in Washington, strengthening emerging technology cooperation between Washington and Tokyo should be part of their discussions.

In light of supply chain and production shortages, the two countries agreed to partner to improve secure semiconductor supply chains in a joint statement by President Biden and the then Prime Minister , Yoshihide Suga, in April 2021. Japan then moved to improve its own domestic production. capacities, although work remains to be done to reach its goal of catching up with Taiwanese and South Korean producers.

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), Fab Building 5, Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan (Pellden)

Biden and Kishida are expected to focus their discussion on securing supply chains and using common partners from third countries – such as Taiwan, which was mentioned in the April leaders’ statement – to strengthen coordination in the short term. . TSMC’s plans for the Kumamoto and US state of Arizona plants show that these types of commitments can be a positive development for both countries. The pursuit of coordinated progress on artificial intelligence (AI), the deployment of 5G, quantum information science (QIS), civil space cooperation and collaboration with the Quad, and the increase of their respective capacities in international organizations, should also be part of this meeting.

In order to ensure that leaders are properly briefed, the next session of the expected meeting of the High-Level Joint Committee (JHLC) on Science and Technology Cooperation should be called at an early date.

Strategic coordination on key priorities

The JHLC is a ministerial-level meeting of the highest-ranking science and technology officials of the two countries, established under the 1988 Agreement on Cooperation in Research and Development in Science and Technology. The committee traditionally meets every two years, but has not met since 2019.

Around this time, then MEXT Minister Masahiko Shibayama and Minister of State for Science and Technology Reform Takuya Hirai traveled to Washington, where they met their counterparts from the White House, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) of the White House, Kelvin Droegemeier, and the head of the United States. Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.

The 2019 meeting was the first to be broken down into science and technology-specific strands. He helped shape subsequent discussions on emerging technologies between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on important issues of AI, QIS and space.

In order to ensure that the priorities of the United States and Japan on these critical and emerging technology issues remain coordinated, and to address emerging strategic issues such as supply chain shortages, supply chain threats, procurement and R&D intellectual property risks, the two governments should act quickly to convene the 15th JHLC in 2022.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, with Digital Minister Karen Makishima.

This iteration of the JHLC Ministerial Meeting is also the perfect opportunity for Minister Karen Makishima of the newly formed Digital Ministry to meet with her US counterparts on further digital collaboration. Behind the scenes, the Joint Working Level Committee met in June 2021 to help prepare for a potential JHLC and discuss issues such as AI and QIS. However, supply chain resilience was missing from the meeting reading.

Keeping the precedent of the technology-specific path adopted in its previous session, the upcoming JHLC is expected to place special emphasis on securing the semiconductor supply chain, coordination within multilateral organizations, and sharing of knowledge. objectives on the deployment of 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and QIS. .

Within the non-defense limits of the JHLC format, the two partners should strengthen bilateral S&T coordination. This could be done by working independently of the Quad’s Critical and Emerging Technologies working groups.

Free World Standards

The first two leaders’ summits of the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue (Quad) in 2021 underscored the importance of coordinating technology policy between the United States, Japan, India and Australia. Technology-specific working groups are expected to continue to play a role in the development of open radio access networks (ORANs) as an alternative to Chinese dominance in the deployment of advanced telecommunications networks, including 5G.

Expect observers to closely monitor how the four countries coordinate at all levels in major international organizations to ensure that China-led totalitarian technology standards do not dominate 2022.

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President Joe Biden heads to the Quad Summit with, left to right, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday, September 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

Preventing China from taking over the presidency of the United Nations-led International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2022 should be a key priority for the United States and Japan, as well as other Quad nations and democratic countries. The move would deal a blow to China in its goal of implementing technology standards influenced by totalitarianism by 2035, and would also demonstrate enhanced cooperation between the United States and Japan on technology standards.

Other multilateral workflows to watch include the engagements with the Taiwanese by the United States and Japan regarding secure supply chains and semiconductor production.

Standing together in 2022

In November 2021, the 12th U.S.-Japan Internet Economy Political Cooperation Dialogue was held in Tokyo and included discussions on artificial intelligence, information technology and communications (ICT) and environmental promotion for innovative approaches to the next stages of the digital economy. , including the ORAN deployment.

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Arming the Internet

The group also focused on the importance of US-Japan coordination regarding various international organizations, including ITU, another important venue to counter the implementation of China’s-led totalitarian technology standards. ITU is expected to elect a new leader in 2022.

In the April 2021 leaders’ statement, Prime Minister Suga and President Biden mentioned the importance of civil space cooperation between the two countries. As the Kishida government continues to develop its priorities in this area, the two countries are expected to convene the eighth meeting of the Bilateral Dialogue on Space Cooperation. The group has not met since August 2020. However, it can play an important role in helping Tokyo and Washington find the most effective means of cooperation in all areas of technological development and military and civilian applications of space technologies. in 2022.

Defense and the economy have traditionally dominated US-Japan relations, and for good reason. But the role of emerging technology cooperation between the two countries is playing an increasing role as they expand cooperation on technology issues. Both are seeking bilateral and multilateral solutions to counter China’s growing influence in the tech space, particularly at ITU.

The new Kishida government should seize the opportunity to engage with the United States on specific technology issues in 2022 at all levels of government to advance these goals. Hosting the next iteration of the JHLC would go a long way in boosting leadership and coordination at the working level on critical and emerging technology issues in the New Year.

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Author: Erik Jacobs


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