The US and Japan have inked an agreement to set up a shared research centre for next-generation semiconductors, as supply of the in-demand tech becomes increasingly tied to national security.
At a meeting in Washington on Friday, Japanese trade and foreign ministers Koichi Hagiuda and Yoshimasa Hayashi, with US secretary of state Antony Blinken and commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, also discussed energy and food security amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As the world’s first- and third-largest economies, it is critical that we work together to defend the rules-based economic order, one in which all countries can participate, compete and prosper,” Blinken told the opening session.
“The coercive and retaliatory economic practices of the People’s Republic of China force countries into choices that compromise their security, their intellectual property, their economic independence,” he added.
Geopolitical tensions and the Covid-19 pandemic have revealed weaknesses in global supply chains, which has seen a shortage of semiconductors sweep the globe.
Semiconductors, or computer chips, are used in most of today’s electronics, including electric cars.
“Japan will quickly move to action” on next-generation semiconductor research, Hagiuda said.
The agreement would keep computer chip development within allied countries, which is what the UK has sought to do with its newly imposed National Security and Investment Act.
The new law, enshrined in January, has so far dragged a part-Chinese takeover of a UK semiconductor company Newport Wafer Fab through a lengthy investigation process, while it is not expected to probe the French takeover of British satellite giant OneWeb.