Japan, U.S. to expand international cooperation in telecom tech

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan and the United States have agreed to cooperate in the development of 5G base stations and undersea cables with a wide range of nations, including countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and South America, according to sources.

To counter China’s growing presence in those fields, Japan and the United States are aiming to enhance the security of communications networks by encouraging other nations to adopt trusted technology.

In late May, senior Japanese and U.S. government officials met to discuss ways to improve bilateral cooperation in the digital field.

Japan and the United States plan to urge other countries to adopt an open system, in which devices from multiple manufacturers can be used to build telecommunications networks, to compete with Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co., a global leader in 5G base stations.

Japanese telecommunications equipment makers such as NEC Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. are leading the development of th open system, which is said to be compatible with U.S. software and other technology. Expectations are high that this can help promote Japanese and U.S. technology around the world.

In addition to India and the European Union, Japan and the United States are also poised to approach Brazil, with which China has strong economic ties.

Chinese companies are rapidly expanding their market presence in the construction of undersea cables, which transmit a significant proportion of international communications.

There are concerns information could be stolen or blocked via undersea cables and 5G base stations, which are important infrastructures in terms of national security.

Japan and the United States confirmed at the government meeting that they would strengthen cooperation in such fields with Australia and other nations to improve communication infrastructure security.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed at their meeting in Washington in April to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the digital field, including 5G technology.

The United States plans to invest $2.5 billion (about ¥280 billion) in the development and rollout of 5G and the next-generation 6G mobile network, while Japan has committed $2 billion (about ¥220 billion) for the purpose.

At the summit meeting, the two leaders also agreed to establish the Global Digital Connectivity Partnership, a framework to ensure the security of communications and to facilitate cooperation with other countries.