Japan and the European Union are considering issuing a joint statement announcing their intention to enhance maritime, cyberspace and supply chain security cooperation after their leaders meet next week, diplomatic sources said Monday.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are expected to hold a regular summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Brussels on July 13.
In the statement, Japan and the EU are likely to pledge to bolster their joint drills in the Indo-Pacific region and help beef up the maritime defense capabilities of Southeast Asian countries, apparently with China in mind, the sources said.
Japan and several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have become increasingly wary of Beijing, which has been showing its military and economic clout in the region, including the East and South China seas.
EU leaders issued a communique following their two-day summit through Friday, saying the East and South China seas are “of strategic importance for regional and global prosperity and security” and expressing concern about growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary, has been intensifying its military activities around the self-ruled democratic island.
The statement also said the EU leaders confirmed the significance of the trade and economic partnership between the EU and China, but committed to reducing reliance on the country, particularly in the area of supply chains.
In the realm of economic security, Kishida and the EU chiefs are set to agree to work together on the research and development of next-generation semiconductors and strengthening supply chains for chips and other key industrial materials, the sources said.
In a related development, Japan and the EU will sign a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday to bolster cooperation on semiconductor supply chains, ministers from both sides responsible for overseeing digitalization policies told a news conference after a meeting in Tokyo on Monday.
Last year, Japan designated products and resources such as semiconductors, batteries and rare earths as critical goods and materials which must be secured stably, even in times of emergency, and has been trying to enhance cooperation with allies and like-minded partners.
The planned agreement is primarily aimed at developing a mechanism for information sharing to prevent a potential supply shortage of chips and related products in the event of a crisis, the sources said.
Kishida is scheduled to visit Belgium for a meeting with the EU leaders after attending a two-day NATO summit from July 11 in Lithuania.
Source : Kyodo News