Japan Digest #357

1.        Kishida Gets Ready To Host G7 Summit


Last week, PM Kishida visited India and met with PM Modi on March 20 to confirm the regional partnership as well as to officially invite him to the G7 Summit that Kishida is going to host in Hiroshima in May.

He then secretly left the official mission to get on a private jet, flew to Poland and visited Kiev by train from there. 

He met with President Zelensky on March 22 and delivered his commitment to continue his administration’s support as well as invited him to the G7 Summit.

Kishida had been trying several times before to make a visit to Ukraine and to meet with President Zelensky in person as all the other G7 leaders had done that.

Hosting the summit and including the agenda of strengthening the support for Ukraine in the agenda, Kishida definitely wished to visit Kiev.

Zelensky accepted his invitation and will participate in the summit meeting online.


2.   Japan-U.S. Agreement To Strengthen The Key Supply chains


Yomiuri reported that the Japanese government and the U.S. government signed an agreement on March 28 to jointly strengthen mutual supply chain of key minerals for EV battery production such as lithium etc.

At this moment, China dominates the supply chain of key minerals and rare metals from the upper stream (mining) to downstream (refining and products) for EV batteries. 

The Japanese government defines cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese and nickel as critical minerals and will collaborate with its U.S. counterparts to build strong supply chain of those five critical minerals from mining and refining down to products of EV battery.

With this arrangement, the Biden Administration would recognizes that the large EV purchase incentive fee will be applicable to those EVs that have Japan made critical mineral contents despite the “Buy American” clause of the administration’s Build Back Better investment.  Meanwhile, the METI of Japan announced yesterday that it would impose stricter restrictions of exports of semiconductor production equipment. 

This move of the Japanese government is in response to the U.S. government’s request to coordinate to tighten export control against China for advanced semiconductors and related products and technology. Concretely, exports of 23 items that are used for cleaning, heat processing and some other processes to produce advanced semiconductors will require an export license to be granted by METI from now on.


3.  UK To Join TPP


The government of Japan and the 10 other member nations of the Trans Pacific Partnership a regional free trade agreement agreed on March 31 to accept the application of membership made by the United Kingdom.

This is the very first case that a European country obtained the membership.

The members are hoping that the United States would consider coming back to the partnership after the former President Donald Trump decided to leave the deal in 2021.

China, Taiwan, Ecuador and Costa Rica have also applied for the membership.


4.  153 Nations Formally Expressed Participation In Osaka Expo


In 2018, Osaka was selected to host World Expo of 2025, which will be held from April 13 up to October 13 of 2025.

The previous one was held in Dubai last year.

It is going to be the 6th expo that Japan hosts.

Despite some difficulty to campaign the event during the pandemic period, Mr. Okada, Minister of World Expo Ministry announced to the press on March 24 that 153 countries have already expressed participation officially. 

When Kishida Administration planned to campaign the event by sending invitations, it originally set a goal to achieve 150 nations' participation. 

So, it seems the current number of participants is a pleasant surprise.


5.  First National Quantum Computer Started Operation


Yomiuri reported on March 28 that a government sponsored first quantum computer, which was co-developed by Riken, Fujitsu, NTT, Osaka University and some others began providing computation services through a cloud server on March 27.

This quantum computer adopted super conductivity circuit for its quantum bit.

So, the computer controls maximum 64 quantum bits inside an extremely cold freezer.

U.S. is leading the race of quantum computer development, while the Japanese government is aiming at exploring practical use of it, Yomiuri reported.