US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 3.4

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Publications US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 3.4

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Leap Year Headlines:

Image Source: MOFA

  • Allies agree to further trilat cooperation on North Korean challenges
  • US 7th Fleet conducts trilateral exercises with allies in Bay of Bengal
  • Bilateral task force on human rights & labor rules holds initial talks
  • US and Japan-led IPEF Supply Chain agreement takes effect
  • Allies launch high-tech manufacturing workforce dvlpt exchange


  • The top diplomats from the US, Japan, and South Korea met in Rio de Janeiro on Feb 22 on the sidelines of the G20 to discuss closer cooperation on North Korea. Sec of State Blinken and Foreign Ministers Kamikawa and Choe discussed the development of NK’s nuclear program, its alignment with Russia, along with other regional issues. FM Kamikawa said, “I am eager to work even more closely with both of you in dealing with North Korea and beyond.” Separately, following his confirmation as Deputy Secretary of State, Kurt Campbell spoke with Vice Minister Masataka Okano on Feb 16 about trilateral relations with South Korea and committed to closer cooperation on regional and global issues.
  • The US-Japan biennial exercise Keen Edge 24, which included Australia for the first time, concluded on February 8 after a week of practicing joint response to contingencies across the Indo-Pacific. The three militaries engaged each other again on Feb 17-18 in the Bay of Bengal to promote maneuverability, communications, and information sharing. Capt. Justin Harts of the US task force detachment from the 7th Fleet said, “fortifying our interoperability is paramount…and amplifies our mission of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Separately, VADM Karl Thomas handed US 7th Fleet command over to VADM Fred Kacher at a change of command ceremony in Yokosuka, Feb 15.
  • The Japan-US Task Force on the Promotion of Human Rights and International Labor Standards in Supply Chains held their first talks Feb 14, since it was founded in 2023. Govt officials and stakeholders from the private sector of both countries discussed ways to protect and promote human rights and labor rights along supply chains. This virtual dialogue was chaired by DG Kashiwabara of Japan’s Multilateral Trade System Dept and by acting Asst. US Trade Rep Mastman. The US briefed on updates to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and labor matters under the USMCA.
  • An international agreement to assist each other and stabilize critical supply chains during crises took effect from Feb 24, after the US, Japan, and three other countries completed the necessary domestic procedures. A part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the supply chain deal was signed in November 2023 and is the first IPEF agreement to come into force. Up to nine other signatories are expected to join the agreement actively in 2024, creating an IPEF Supply Chain Crisis Response Network and other steps aimed to strengthen supply chain resiliency for semiconductors, critical minerals, and other “critical sectors,” to be determined by each country over the next four months.
  • US Dept of Labor’s Principal Dep Asst Secretary for Employment and Training Brent Parton visited Japan Feb 20-24 to facilitate technical exchanges on workforce strategies for advanced manufacturing and the semiconductor sector in both nations. Parton met with workforce development experts at Japanese firms and international affiliates in Fukuoka and Kumamoto, and he engaged with several universities in Kyushu that are developing innovative semiconductor-related curricula for the next generation of professionals. Bilat efforts are being made to bolster the semiconductor workforce in both countries and expand partnerships across education and training institutions.

“US-Japan Alliance Digest” is a bi-weekly summary of bilateral and related developments compiled by Sasakawa USA’s “US-Japan NEXT Alliance Initiative.” To receive “Alliance Digest” via email, contact

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