Japan, U.S. to talk semiconductors with eye on China during Economic 2+2 in July

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken greet each other ahead of their meeting in Tokyo on May 23.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have begun coordinating to hold their first diplomatic-economic dialogue with the presence of both nation’s foreign and trade ministers.

The Japan-U.S. Economic Policy Consultative Committee (Economic 2+2) had previously been held at the vice ministerial level in May. The ministerial Economic 2+2 will likely be held July 29 in Washington with the attendance of Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

After the meeting, a joint statement is expected that will likely touch on measures to shore up semiconductor supply chains.

Both sides are also considering taking this opportunity to have Hayashi and Blinken meet to discuss foreign affairs.

The 2+2 format traditionally involves foreign and defense ministers discussing security cooperation. Initiating the 2+2 dialogue for economic and diplomatic concerns was agreed on during a teleconference between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden in January.

During the Japan-U.S. summit held in Tokyo in May, Kishida and Biden confirmed cooperation in response to supply shortages and joint research on next-generation semiconductors.

By working out concrete measures during the Economic 2+2, the two countries aim to build supply chains that can counter China, which has been ramping up domestic production of semiconductors.

From the perspective of economic security, export controls on key technologies will also be on the agenda. Such issues as cyber monitoring technology, including facial recognition systems using artificial intelligence, are expected to be taken up for discussion. The idea is to prevent key technologies from being obtained by China, which might misuse them for military purposes or human rights abuses.

Likely to also be discussed is how to craft a framework under which scarce resources can be stably procured without depending on China.