Kishida, Biden Likely to Agree on Promotion of Japan-U.S.-AU Technical Cooperation of UAVs

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is interviewed Monday before his official visit to the United States.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden at their upcoming meeting will likely agree to promote Japan-U.S.-Australian technical cooperation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), several Japanese government sources said.

The technical cooperation will be utilized in the development of UAVs which will operate alongside next-generation fighter aircraft to be jointly developed by Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy. The policy will be stipulated in a Japan-U.S. joint statement to be released after the summit meeting scheduled Wednesday.

The UAV-linked “sixth-generation” stealth fighter aircraft is scheduled to be deployed in fiscal 2035.

A UAV flies in tandem with a manned fighter jet to conduct surveillance and attacks. The United States and Australia agreed in October 2023 to join with Japan to pursue technological cooperation. Japan and the United States agreed in December to begin joint research on artificial intelligence to improve the decision making of UAVs.

The statement will also specify that a framework to discuss a Japan-U.S. production system for defense equipment is to be established. Given the situation where U.S. production is under pressure due to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, the framework aims to demonstrate the unity of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the form of Japan backing up U.S. support for Ukraine.

Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency commissioner and U.S. under secretary of defense for acquisition & sustainment will discuss details on how to work together on technical agenda by adding inter-industry cooperation as a new theme. Specifically, cooperation would enable U.S. ships to be repaired in Japan. They are expected to hold their first meeting in autumn.

During the summit meeting, Kishida and Biden will reaffirm a policy to promote the joint development of a new type of missile to intercept hypersonic weapons being developed by North Korea. The leaders will also consider cooperation between Japan and AUKUS, a new trilateral security cooperation framework of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Kishida departed for the United States on Monday from Haneda Airport on a government-chartered plane for the first official visit to the country by a Japanese prime minister in nine years.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife leave for the United States at Haneda Airport on Monday.

He will meet Biden and attend a state dinner Wednesday and deliver the speech at a joint session of Congress on Thursday before attending the first trilateral summit with Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Kishida will visit a factory of a Japanese-affiliated firm in North Carolina on Friday and then return to Japan on Sunday.