Japan, Britain to Cooperate on Defense, Clean Energy, Semiconductors

Japan and Britain agreed to cooperate on a broad range of areas, including semiconductors, defense, clean energy and cybersecurity, British Prime Minister Sunak and his Japanese counterpart Kishida announced after their talks ahead of the G7 summit in Japan. The two sides said the pact would strengthen their cooperation in economic, security and technological fields. The accord includes plans for a “semiconductors partnership” to improve the supply chain for the components so vital for automobiles, defense technology and many modern consumer products.

“Japan and the United Kingdom are connected by our shared values of freedom, democracy, rule of law, fundamental human rights, and open and fair trade. These values are at the heart of our intention to work together for global security, resilience, and innovation,” the accord says.

It involves “new commitments to pursue ambitious R&D cooperation and skills exchange, strengthening our domestic sectors and bolster supply chain resilience in an increasingly competitive market,” the British government said in a statement.

Sunak pointed out that Japanese companies had committed to investing $22 billion in clean energy projects, including funding for offshore wind, green hydrogen and other renewable projects.

Britain has been pursuing closer trade ties with Japan and other Asian countries after the Brexit. As part of that effort it has formally applied to join a regional trade bloc, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

More than half of the investment pledged by Japan will come from the trading house Marubeni Corp. and will go to offshore wind and green hydrogen projects in Scotland and Wales.

Japan and Britain also agreed to “ensure diverse, resilient, and sustainable critical mineral supply chains needed for clean energy technologies,” Japan’s trade ministry said in a statement. It said the cooperation would also aim to improve standards in the industry. Mining of such minerals has often been plagued with labor abuses and environmental damage.

Sumitomo Corp., another major Japanese trading company, plans to expand offshore wind projects in the United Kingdom. Its affiliate Sumitomo Electric Industries plans to build a factory to make high-voltage cables in the Scottish Highlands.

Sunak, in an earlier visit to a Japanese naval base, announced plans for closer defense cooperation, dubbed the “Vigilant Isles”, by doubling the size of joint military exercises, deploying Britain’s Carrier Strike Group in the Indo-Pacific in 2023 and expanding an air defense program.

The fleet, made of an aircraft carrier, its escorts and its aircraft, will work with the Japan Self Defense Forces and other regional partners to “help defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” the British government said.

“The Hiroshima Accord will see us step up cooperation between our armed forces, grow our economies together and develop our world-leading science and technology expertise. It marks an exciting next phase in the U.K. and Japan’s flourishing partnership,” Sunak said in a statement.

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