Japan, U.S. to Work Together for Expanding Marine Product Supply Chains; Countering China’s Economic Coercion

Reuters file photo
Japan and U.S flags

Japan and the United States will enter discussions to enhance supply chains for marine products, and the policy is likely to be included in a joint statement at a Japan-U.S. summit meeting scheduled on April 10 in Washington, it has been learned.

The two countries will work together to counter China’s economic coercion efforts, in light of the ongoing policy to suspend imports of Japanese marine products, and build supply chains not dependent on China.

A joint statement will stipulate that the two countries will build a strong, reliable supply network of marine products, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden are expected to confirm stronger economic security cooperation. A working group will discuss ways to ensure a certain level of supply even in the event of a unilateral embargo by a third country.

Since August, China has suspended all imports of Japanese marine products in protest of Japan’s ocean discharge of treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Scallops in particular had been exported to China in their shells to undergo the time-consuming shelling process there before being exported to the United States and elsewhere. The suspension has been a major blow to the Japanese fishing industry.

Tokyo and Washington hope to establish new export routes to the United States by shelling and processing the seafood in Southeast Asia, Mexico and elsewhere instead of China.

“Reducing dependence on China and diversifying export routes will be beneficial from the perspective of economic security,” a Japanese government official said.

The topic of economic coercion, which puts pressure on other countries by restricting trade, will be on the agenda at an upcoming Japan-U.S. summit meeting. China’s tightening export controls on rare earths ― which are essential to produce electronic devices ― has also become an issue. A joint statement is expected to include a plan to work with Group of Seven industrialized nations to counter economic coercion and promote open markets and fair competition.