US-Japan Economic Security Coordination Update

Mr. Erik M. Jacobs
Non-Resident Scholar, US-Japan NEXT Alliance Initiative, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA

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Views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily reflective of Sasakawa USA or the NEXT Alliance Initiative.

Abstract

The United States-Japan Alliance has adapted itself to different security and economic conditions over the decades. Responding to China’s technological, economic, and military rise combined with the need for Washington and Tokyo to address long-term supply chain and economic security risks that were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated further changes, updates, and adaptations to the US-Japan Alliance.

Much of the cooperation and coordination on economic, emerging technology, and supply chain issues is driven by the relationship between the US Department of Commerce (DOC) and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). This analysis will review some of the major workstreams at Commerce—as well as at the White House—to shed light on how technology- and supply chain-focused policies have been shaped in recent years.

US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee

In July 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, then-Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda met for the first minister-level meeting of the US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee (EPCC). This meeting came shortly after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with US President Joe Biden in Tokyo on May 23, 2022.[1]

Now commonly known as the economic “2+2 dialogue,” this dialogue serves as a kind of coordinator for various efforts that the Department of Commerce is undertaking with Japan and plays a major role in shaping bilateral and diplomatic cooperation on various economic security-related issues including supply chain resilience, semiconductor-related matters, and critical minerals.[2]

Although the EPCC has not met at the ministerial level since its inaugural meeting, the EPCC framework meets at other levels to support broader US-Japan economic security efforts. A January 2023 vice-ministerial meeting focus included countering economic coercion and the development of emerging technologies as a part of allied cooperation throughout Japan’s 2023 G7 Presidency.[3]

Japan-United States Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP)

The Japan-United States Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP) is the primary mechanism through which American and Japanese leadership coordinate their approaches on semiconductors, export controls, and other digital issues between DOC and METI. JUCIP has been a “cornerstone” of the broader economic 2+2 dialogue since DOC and METI first launched the group in November 2021 to focus on semiconductor, digital economy, and investment priorities as part of the US-Japan Competitive and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership.[4]

At the first ministerial-level JUCIP meeting in May 2022, Secretary Raimondo and Minister Hagiuda developed and released the Basic Principles on Semiconductor Cooperation, which serves as a guide for the shared vision and strategy to align the Commerce and METI’s semiconductor capabilities and approaches. The basic principles include supply chain resiliency, strengthening and diversifying semiconductor production capacity, coordinating emergency response to semiconductor shortages, and enhancing research and development (R&D) cooperation, both bilaterally and with likeminded countries when appropriate.[5]

Importantly, this group also works extensively on export control through the Work Plan on Export Control Cooperation, within the JUCIP/EPCC framework. The Work Plan tasks both governments with identifying specific actions they can take in this regard and has been one of the forces behind recent emerging technology-related export control coordination between the United States and Japan across the emerging technology sector.[6] The US and Japanese governments also sought public comment to help identify the best ways in which policymakers could address existing US and Japanese dual-use export control policies through JUCIP.[7] [8]

In March 2023, the Japanese government released its own semiconductor-related regulatory framework while subsequently stating that it is not directly aligning its priorities with the US Bureau of Industry and Security export controls that were released in October 2022.[9] [10] Despite these official statements, Japan released new export restrictions indirectly targeting China’s semiconductor industry that are broadly in line with US export control measures.[11]

Even with broad coordination on specific export control measures, differences in enforcement protocols in both the US and Japan may make some coordination efforts difficult. In September 2023, the Department of Commerce released the final national security guardrails for the CHIPS for America Incentives Program, which may serve as a guide for Japanese firms hoping to work more closely with American firms in this space.[12]

JUCIP re-convened in May 2023 for its second ministerial-level meeting, where it focused on economic prosperity. Delegation leaders emphasized alignment between both sides of the semiconductor ecosystem, noting that they will encourage cooperation between the yet-established National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) in the United States and the Leading-Edge Semiconductor Technology Center of Japan, which will roadmap several issues including geographic concentrations of production that undermine semiconductor supply chain resilience through the joint task force to explore the development of next generation semiconductors under the auspices of JUCIP.[13] In this meeting, Commerce and METI also decided to increase cooperation on other emerging technology issues including artificial intelligence and quantum computing.[14]  In remarks at Temple University, Japan Campus in September 2023, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves also underscored the importance of JUCIP to deepen government-to-government and private sector collaboration on these emerging technology issues.[15]

Other Convening Roles

The Department of Commerce has taken a leading role in US-Japan semiconductor and emerging technology cooperation, likely due in large part to its role overseeing the CHIPS Act and other programs. Other avenues for enhanced cooperation on civil technology cooperation also exist, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

First established when President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita signed the US-Japan Science and Technology Agreement in 1988, the Joint High-Level Committee (JHLC) Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation between the United States and Japan has also been a forum through which ministerial-level science and technology cooperation between the US and Japan has been discussed and coordinated.

In May 2019’s meeting, the Trump Administration established for the first time a two tracked dialogue, in which the OSTP Director led science-focused talks and the then-Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States (USCTO)[16] led a separate, technology-focused workstream within the JHLC dialogue.[17] While observers of the JHLC were encouraged by the technology-related developments within the framework of the meeting, the JHLC remains limited in its ability to coordinate actual policy and remains less involved in technology policy-related coordination efforts than the Department of Commerce.[18]

This was evident when the 15th JHLC convened in Tokyo on May 16, 2023, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite the Japanese delegation being co-chaired by Minister of State for Economic Security Sanae Takaichi, R&D coordination on semiconductor, supply chain, and other economic security-related issues appeared to be off the table for discussion. This is surprising given the geopolitical state of these issues following COVID-19-related supply chain shocks and efforts in both Washington and Tokyo to reduce reliance on Chinese technology-based supply chains. Official readouts of the meeting indicate the JHLC reverted to the one-tracked format and primarily focused on more basic science and technology research questions, including artificial intelligence and quantum information science (QIS).[19]

While the JHLC may be limited in its scope on some issues, leaders on both sides should seek ways to use it as a conduit for deeper collaboration on R&D issues to support broader governmental efforts on matters of economic security, such as semiconductors and other leading-edge technologies. This will be even more important as government-funded programs in both countries seek to bolster domestic semiconductor industries with elements of international collaboration.

Third-Country and Multilateral Efforts

Coordination efforts between the Department of Commerce and METI have not been limited to bilateral fora or discussions and are part of broader ministerial meetings and working groups across different government departments and agencies. Third-country cooperation has been an important force shaping US-Japan collaboration on these issues, and it is also featured in JUCIP language regarding capacity building with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).[20]

In January 2023, the US, Japan, and the Netherlands announced they would be working together on export control coordination efforts targeting China’s capabilities, marking one of the first multilateral efforts to control leading chips and other capabilities vis-a-vis China.[21] Both American and Japanese governments have followed up with additional export control-related measures in 2023, entrenching their global supply chain efforts.

Third-country collaboration on semiconductor and supply chain-related issues continued in August 2023 when Prime Minister Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol met with President Biden at Camp David for the first Trilateral Summit. Official statements from the meeting indicated that Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul are cooperating on supply chain resilience on semiconductors, marking an important development for moving leading-edge technology supply chains away from China.[22]

Regional efforts have also been underway to broaden US-Japan cooperation efforts with Australia and India through the Quad on supply chain issues, with limited success. Other efforts include semiconductor collaboration with South Korea and Taiwan through the “Chip 4” arrangement, but they have yet to deliver results, due in large part to reservations from private industry about the potential commercial impacts of these programs.[23]

METI’s priorities and ability to expand US-Japan cooperation efforts on supply chain and semiconductor issues will also be tested at the upcoming G7 trade ministers’ meeting in Sakai, Osaka, scheduled to take place at the end of October. Tensions regarding industrial policy and differing views on decoupling with China may be on display at this meeting, but it represents an opportunity for the US and Japan to focus on their core alignment on export control and other leading-edge technology issues.

What it Means

The US Department of Commerce and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are the two driving forces behind the current US-Japan civil technology relationship, especially when it comes to semiconductors, export controls, and other issues. This is likely to continue in the foreseeable future, guided by the efforts of the EPCC and JUCIP, as well as through different multilateral fora focused on these issues. It would make sense for OSTP and other US government agencies to play a more active role in coordinating these efforts across departments, but that seems unlikely in the current environment. With Japan’s G7 Presidency coming to a close at the end of the year, it also remains to be seen how the current governments will be able to promote shared priorities on export controls and other supply chain issues outside of third-country cooperation that now exists with the Netherlands and South Korea.

Erik M. Jacobs joined Sasakawa USA as a Non-Resident Scholar for the US-Japan NEXT Alliance Initiative in June 2023. He is an experienced Indo-Pacific security and technology professional who served as a Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) from 2018 until 2020 and as the Policy Coordinator for the US Department of Energy (DOE) from 2020 until 2021. Jacobs is a JET Program Alumni (Hyogo, 2013-2016) and has published extensively on U.S.-Japan science and technology relations, including an upcoming book chapter on US-Japan science and technology relations in the 1960s. He is a nonresident fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute and holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Japanese from Temple University.

Erik Jacobs wrote in his own personal capacity. The views and interpretations expressed by the author are solely his own.

The US-Japan NEXT Alliance Initiative is a forum for bilateral dialogue, networking, and the development of joint recommendations involving a wide range of policy and technical specialists (in and out of government) to stimulate new alliance connections across foreign, security, and technology policy areas. Established by Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA with support from the Nippon Foundation, the goal is to help improve the alliance and how it serves shared interests, preparing it for emerging challenges within an increasingly complex and dynamic geostrategic environment. Launched in 2021, the Initiative includes two overlapping lines of effort: 1) Foreign & Security Policy, and 2) Technology & Innovation Connections. The Initiative is led by Sr. Director James Schoff.

[1] “Japan-US Summit Meeting.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. May 23, 2022. https://www.mofa.go.jp/na/na1/us/page4e_001261.html.

[2] Joint Statement of the US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee: Strengthening Economic Security and the Rules-Based Order. US Department of State. July 29, 2022. https://www.state.gov/joint-statement-of-the-u-s-japan-economic-policy-consultative-committee-strengthening-economic-security-and-the-rules-based-order/.

[3] US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee Vice-Ministerial Meeting. US Department of State. January 13, 2023. https://www.state.gov/u-s-japan-economic-policy-consultative-committee-vice-ministerial-meeting-2/.

[4] First Ministerial Meeting of the Japan-US Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP). May 4, 2022. https://www.commerce.gov/sites/default/files/2022-05/First%20Ministerial%20Meeting%20Japan%20US%20Commercial%20and%20Industrial%20Partnership.pdf.

[5] Basic Principles on Semiconductor Cooperation. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. May 4, 2022. https://www.meti.go.jp/press/2022/05/20220506002/20220506002-3.pdf.

[6] First Ministerial Meeting of the Japan-US Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP). May 4, 2022. https://www.commerce.gov/sites/default/files/2022-05/First%20Ministerial%20Meeting%20Japan%20US%20Commercial%20and%20Industrial%20Partnership.pdf.

[7] “Request for Public Comments Regarding Aeras and Priorities for US and Japan Export Control Cooperation for the Japan US Commercial and Industrial Partnership Export Control Working Group.” US Federal Register. December 1, 2022. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/12/01/2022-25915/request-for-public-comments-regarding-areas-and-priorities-for-us-and-japan-export-control#:~:text=The%20JUCIP’s%20four%20working%20groups,5G%2C%20and%20other%20vital%20industry.

[8] 輸出貿易管理令別表第一及び外国為替令別表の規定に基づき貨物又は技術を定める省令の一部を改正する省令案等に対する意見募集について。 Japan E-gov パブリック・コメント。2023年3月31日。https://web.archive.org/web/20230331050840/https://public-comment.e-gov.go.jp/servlet/Public?CLASSNAME=PCMMSTDETAIL&id=595123022&Mode=0.

[9] Tomoshige, Hideki. “Key Differences Remain between US and Japanese Advanced Semiconductor Export Controls on China.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. May 25, 2023. https://www.csis.org/blogs/perspectives-innovation/key-differences-remain-between-us-and-japanese-advanced-semiconductor.

[10] See, Bureau of Industry and Security export control implementation release in the US Federal Register, October 2022. https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2022-21658.pdf.

[11] “Japan’s export curbs on chip-making equipment to China take effect.” Kyodo News. July 23, 2020. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/07/fbe47a945a2b-japans-export-curbs-on-chip-making-equipment-to-china-take-effect.html.

[12] See, National Institute of Standards and Technology release on Preventing the Improper Use of CHIPS Act Funding in the US Federal Register. https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2023-20471.pdf.

[13] “Joint Statement of the US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee.” July 29, 2022. https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/100376270.pdf.

[14] “Joint Statement for the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Japan-US Meeting of the Japan-U.S> Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP).” May 26, 2023. https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2023/05/joint-statement-second-ministerial-meeting-japan-us-commercial-and.

[15] “Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at Temple University Japan.” US Department of Commerce. September 27, 2023. https://www.commerce.gov/news/speeches/2023/09/remarks-deputy-secretary-commerce-don-graves-temple-university-japan.

[16] Michael Kratsios was subsequently confirmed as Chief Technology Officer of the United States in August 2019.

[17] Jacobs, Erik. “Midsummer Science and Technology Updates in US-Japan Relations.” Japan Forward. August 3, 2023. https://japan-forward.com/midsummer-science-and-technology-updates-in-us-japan-relations/.

[18] Schoff, James L. “US-Japan Technology Policy Coordination: Balancing Technonationalism with a Globalized World. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. June 2020. P. 41. https://carnegieendowment.org/files/Schoff_US-Japan.pdf.

[19] “The 15th Japan-US Joint High-Level Committee (JHLC) Meeting under the Agreement between Japan and the US on Cooperation in Research and Development in Science and Technology.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. May 23, 2023. https://www.mofa.go.jp/press/release/press5e_000003.html.

[20] “Joint Statement for the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Japan-US Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP).” US Department of Commerce. May 26, 2023. https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2023/05/joint-statement-second-ministerial-meeting-japan-us-commercial-and.

[21] 日米オランダ、半導体規制で協議 対中輸出制限で合意 米報道. https://www.sankei.com/article/20230128-KYFPDRBTPVLWZPOLOCNF7SF67I/

[22] “The Spirit of Camp David: Joint Statement of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States.” The White House. August 18, 2023. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/08/18/the-spirit-of-camp-david-joint-statement-of-japan-the-republic-of-korea-and-the-united-states/.

[23] Jacobs, Erik M. “Challenges and Opportunities for the “Chip 4” Group.” Global Taiwan Institute. November 2, 2022. https://globaltaiwan.org/2022/11/challenges-and-opportunities-for-the-chip-4-group/.

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