WASHINGTON: Visiting Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda agreed with US economy ministers in a series of meetings Wednesday that the two countries will work closely together on issues related to semiconductors and energy.
A joint statement released after the meetings said the two sides reaffirmed that “deeper cooperation” on commercial and industrial issues is critical to “responding to threats to the global economic order,” apparently with in mind China, which is stepping up its hegemonic activities, and Russia, which is continuing its military aggression in Ukraine.
The Japanese and US ministers agreed to reduce reliance on China for semiconductors and on Russia for energy.
“The importance of collaborating with like-minded countries is increasing at a time when the international situation is destabilizing,” Hagiuda told reporters after the meetings with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai in Washington.
He suggested that Japan and the United States, which share the democratic values, will lead the efforts to rebuild global economic and energy security, in the run-up to a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden in Tokyo late this month.
For the semiconductor sector, where the United States and China are competing fiercely, the Japanese and US sides for the first time agreed on basic principles for cooperation, which call on the two countries to work with like-minded countries and regions to strengthen the supply chains for chips.
Under the basic principles, which stress the importance of an open market, transparency and free trade, a hotline will be set up for discussions on cooperation in times of emergency such as semiconductor shortages. They are also designed to help diversity semiconductor procurement with geopolitical risks such as a possible emergency over Taiwan in mind.
In the energy sector, the Japanese and US sides drew up a joint statement listing measures aimed at reducing dependence on Russia, which is rich in natural resources.
They shared the view that liquefied natural gas from the United States will play a major role as an alternative to Russian gas for countries and regions that have imposed sanctions on Moscow over its military aggression in Ukraine. Japan vowed to financially help the United States increase LNG production.
As fresh sanctions on Moscow, the European Union is considering the possibility of banning imports of Russian crude oil, following a ban on coal imports from the country.
Hagiuda indicated that it is difficult for Japan to keep in step with the EU or others soon in implementing an import ban because natural resources are limited in the country.
On Biden’s remarks Wednesday showing a plan for the Group of Seven major industrial nations to hold talks this week on further sanctions on Russia, Hagiuda said that Japan wants to share the direction with its G-7 partners.
The G-7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the EU.