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PM Kishida's State Visit Promises More US-Japan Tech Collaboration

The state visit saw key developments in Japan-US space coordination, including an agreement for a Japanese astronaut to join one of NASA's lunar missions.



Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a trilateral summit with US President Joe Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr at the White House, in Washington, US, April 11, 2024. (©REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

From April 8 to April 12, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the United States. It was for a three-day state visit hosted by President Joe Biden and a trilateral summit with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He also had a one-day visit to Japanese manufacturing facilities and industrial sites in North Carolina. 

In addition to enhanced defense cooperation efforts, the visit's Joint Leaders' Statement identified enhanced cooperation on space, technological innovation, and economic security issues. Economic security concerns also loomed large over various aspects of the visit. 

Bilateral Space Coordination

The leaders' statement emphasized deeper cooperation between the US and Japan on space issues. This was discussed under the framework of the Artemis Accords, a Trump Administration initiative to return National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts to the moon. 

Assuming current US-Japan Artemis Cooperation efforts continue, NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) signed an agreement. It ensures that Japanese astronauts will join American astronauts and set foot on the moon as a part of a future lunar mission. 

In addition to making a Japanese astronaut the first non-American to set foot on the moon, the agreement also outlines Japan's plan to develop a pressurized lunar rover to support future lunar missions. Prime Minister Kishida emphasized the importance of US-Japan space ties by referring to the agreement in his speech to Congress. He pointed out JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and NASA astronaut Daniel Tani in his remarks.  

Bilateral Technology Efforts

Official statements from both governments also committed the US and Japan to "maximally align" economic, technology, and related strategies. They aim to advance innovation and strengthen both industrial bases and supply chains to build the industries of the future. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (center left) and Mike Johnson, Speaker of the House of Representatives at the US Congress on April 11. (©Kyodo)

At the agency level, the US Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) Ken Saito held the third meeting of the Japan-US Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP). 

JUCIP first met in May 2022 to discuss the Basic Principles on Semiconductor Cooperation. It met again in May to discuss various economic issues. These include coordination between Japan's Leading-Edge Semiconductor Technology Center and the US National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC). 


In the latest leader-level meeting, Saito and Raimondo agreed to address current and leading-edge semiconductor and supply chain coordination. It was originally agreed to in the Japan-US Economic Policy Consultative Committee (EPCC), which took place in San Francisco, California, in November 2023

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) also signed a memorandum of cooperation. They agreed to work together on various quantum computing issues. This builds off the Trump Administration's Tokyo Statement on Quantum Cooperation, which formalized several quantum-related workstreams between the US and Japan. 

Additional meetings between MEXT and the Department of Energy also resulted in a new partnership. It focuses on nuclear technology, including fusion energy. Argonne National Laboratory and Japan's Riken laboratory also agreed upon a revised project agreement to collaborate on artificial intelligence-related projects. 

PM Kishida's Congressional Address

On April 11, during his visit to Washington, PM Kishida delivered a historic address to a Joint Meeting of the US Congress. With his remarks, Kishida became only the second Japanese Prime Minister to address Congress. It was the first time since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did so in 2015.

In his remarks, the prime minister identified artificial intelligence and emerging technology as key technologies. He stated that they would help shape the future, acknowledging the battle raging between AI's rise and its perils. 

Kishida also addressed the dangers of living in a society in which lives are monitored by digital technology. He further identified the criticality of the US-Japan relationship in leading on artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and semiconductor technologies. 

Multilateral Engagement

Japan also engaged with the United States as a part of a new trilateral framework on technology issues with the Philippines. Biden, Kishida, and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr released an official statement. It identified cooperation on open radio access networks (ORAN) and information communications (ICT) technologies as priorities for Tokyo, Washington, and Manila. The leaders also discussed the possibility of sending Philippine students to the US and Japan to study and strengthen supply chains. They also discussed additional American investment in Philippine supply chains. 

US President Joe Biden escorts Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to their trilateral summit at the White House in Washington on April 11, 2024. (©REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Private Sector Investment in Japan

Prime Minister Kishida's engagement in the US was not limited to government-level meetings. As has been the case throughout the history of US-Japan science and technology relations, Japanese private sector leaders also played an important role in the visit. 

On April 10, it was announced that American technology giant Microsoft would invest at least $2.9 billion USD in Japan. Microsoft aims to grow its hyperscale cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure in Japan. The investment will also attempt to deepen Microsoft's cybersecurity collaboration with the Government of Japan. It will be used to provide AI skilling to more than three million people in three years, as well as open the first Microsoft Research Lab in Japan.

This marks Microsoft's largest investment in Japan in its history. It will include support for METI's Generative AI Accelerator Challenge (GENIAC). The project was launched in February 2024 to enhance Japan's generative artificial intelligence capabilities. 

University Engagement

Announcements of enhanced private sector funding opportunities for university research and development initiatives accompanied commercial investments like Microsoft's. 


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Carnegie Mellon University announced it will collaborate with Tokyo-based Keio University. They will work together on various artificial intelligence and life-science-based projects. 

This artificial intelligence program is part of a broader $110 million USD partnership between American and Japanese universities. These include the University of Washington and the University of Tsukuba. Leading technology companies including NVIDIA and Amazon are putting $25 million USD into the collaboration efforts. Arm, Microsoft, and nine other Japanese companies are also supporting these research and development efforts. 

State-Level Engagement 

Japan is currently the largest foreign direct investor in the United States. Prime Kishida's schedule included state-level priorities to both grow and emphasize Japan's existing investments in the US. 

On April 12, Kishida arrived in North Carolina, where he became the first head of a foreign country to pay an official visit to the state. Kishida visited North Carolina due in part to Japan's large investment and employment in the state, especially in the automotive and electric vehicle battery sector. 

A key part of this visit was to meet with Japanese business leaders in North Carolina's Research Triangle. There, the leaders addressed research and development efforts for Japanese companies in the US as a way to expand Japan's growth potential. 

During meetings with President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida also discussed a long-speculated high-speed rail project using Shinkansen technology. The proposed project aims to connect Houston, Texas, and Dallas, Texas. However, it faces an uphill battle due to its high estimated cost (between $20 billion and $30 billion) and funding mechanisms for the project. 


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's state visit to the United States emphasized traditional defense-related cooperation issues. It also featured various elements of technology-specific cooperation at the agency level. These efforts included ongoing work on microelectronics and semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and supply chains. 

The biggest developments from the trip likely came on the space side. The announcement that a JAXA astronaut would join NASA for upcoming lunar missions. This would make a Japanese citizen the first non-American to set foot on the moon. 


As has traditionally been the case, private sector actors helped drive US-Japan technology cooperation forward, both in terms of major investment announcements and university partnerships. The Kishida government's approval rating has slightly increased since the visit. However it remains below 30 percent based on polling conducted after the visit. This means it may take some time to see the long-term impacts of the visit as a Liberal Democratic Party leadership election looms this September. 

Also, official mentions of the controversial Nippon Steel acquisition of American steelmaker US Steel were notably absent from official statements during the visit. The acquisition first faced opposition from Senator JS Vance (R-OH) and former President Donald Trump due to national and economic security concerns.


Author: Erik M Jacobs