Kishida, Biden to agree on space cooperation at upcoming summit

Yomiuri Shimbun, AP photos
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and U.S. President Joe Biden

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden are expected to agree to strengthen cooperation in the space field and in building supply chains for cutting-edge semiconductors when they hold talks in Japan later this month, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Arrangements are being made to include these agenda items in a joint statement to be released following their summit on May 23, the day after Biden arrives in Japan for a three-day visit, according to several Japanese and U.S. government sources.

By agreeing on space cooperation, Tokyo and Washington aim to take the initiative on the use of outer space to counter the growing threats that Moscow and Beijing have been posing, according to the sources.

During the upcoming summit, Kishida and Biden are expected to agree to promote maritime domain awareness, a framework aiming to ensure maritime security, in which participating countries share intelligence obtained by satellites to detect suspicious vessels and any other possible threats. With Beijing having been increasing its maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas, it has become difficult for Washington to collect sufficient intelligence over a wide area through its own satellite network alone. Therefore, the U.S. side has strong expectations for working with Japanese satellites, according to the sources.

Kishida and Biden are also expected to agree to strengthen cooperation on developing a satellite constellation, an observation network that deploys a number of small satellites in a constellation-like formation. The system is expected to be useful in detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons that China, Russia and North Korea have been developing. Japan is expected to take part in the project beginning from its development stage.

The two leaders are also expected to agree on cooperation in the U.S.-led Artemis program for manned exploration of the surface of the moon.

There is an urgent need to address security issues in space, mainly because China and Russia have conducted tests to destroy satellites using missiles. Kishida and Biden are expected to confirm that their countries will take the lead in establishing international rules on outer space. They also plan to discuss cooperation on the use of space during a May 24 meeting of leaders from the Quad, a framework for partnership among Japan, the United States, Australia and India.

Regarding semiconductors, Kishida and Biden are expected to agree to strengthen efforts for producing and procuring them in their own countries, because they have become more important in terms of economic security amid the confrontation between the United States and China. The two countries are considering establishing a working group for joint research on cutting-edge technologies, such as developing circuit lines less than 2 nanometers wide. (One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.)

When Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during his visit to the United States earlier this month, the two countries formulated basic principles on semiconductor cooperation. The principles said Tokyo and Washington will cooperate “with a shared objective to strengthen supply chain resiliency in Japan, the United States and other like-minded countries and regions.”

During the upcoming summit, Kishida and Biden are expected to confirm that their countries will step up cooperation with the aim of putting advanced technologies into practical use, according to the sources.