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Editorial: Economic 2+2 should serve as a foundation to promote international cooperation

The foreign and economic ministers of Japan and the United States met for the first time for an inaugural “Japan-U.S. Economic Policy Consultative Committee” (economic 2+2) and agreed to lead the world in building an order for a free and open international economy.

 

It is of great significance for Japan and the U.S. to strengthen their cooperation in the fields of economy and cutting-edge technology as these are directly linked to national security and the competition against China and Russia, which pose a threat to international peace and security.

 

The launch of the economic 2+2 framework in addition to the conventional 2+2 involving the foreign and defense ministers should serve as a key strategic move to counter China and Russia. Japan and the U.S. should promote items that they agreed upon in a steady fashion and use the economic 2+2 as a foundation to muster democratic states in Asia and Europe.

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hagiuda Koichi joined an economic 2+2 session with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and produced a joint statement as well as an action plan based on discussions.

 

They agreed to a range of things, such as the strengthening of supply chains for semiconductors and joint development of cutting-edge technology. In the field of cutting-edge technology, Japan and the U.S. will cooperate in the development of next-generation semiconductors that can be used in artificial intelligence (AI). They will also work together in the field of export controls to prevent the outflow of technological expertise.

 

Japan and the U.S. also agreed to promote fair and transparent development finance with an eye on China, which is broadening its influence by putting developing nations into debt through its “One Belt One Road” economic initiative.

 

The government of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio enacted the economic security promotion act in the latest Diet session. The 2+2 economic framework addresses the same things as the Japanese legislation. Cooperation with the U.S. is expected to produce synergies and strengthen Japan’s economic security.

 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy and food crisis serve as a sharp reminder of the potential risk of economic dependence on authoritarian states. This is especially true for Japan, as China, which is ramping up its economic coercion against other nations, is a neighbor. To better prepare for the political risk caused by China’s arbitrary moves to slow down economic activities between Japan and China, Japan and the U.S. must lead in establishing an economic bloc and work closely with like-minded nations and regions.

 

In May, the U.S. launched a new economic initiative called the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)” and 14 nations have thus far joined. To make this multilateral framework more effective, it will become necessary to win over countries that are unable to wean themselves from China. To do so, Japan and the U.S. need to deepen their cooperation in building a rules-based economic order.

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