This research examines recent changes in Japan’s medium- to long- term trade strategy, focusing on global trade issues that have emerged amidst the growing US-China technology competition and the Covid-19 pandemic. The issues include supply chain restructuring, digital trade, climate change responses, and health and development cooperation. For each of the topic, this research offers policy implications for Korea.
In chapter 2, “Restructuring the Supply Chain,” this research examines Japan’s supply chain restructuring policies, including the government’s reshoring policy, semiconductor strategy, Economic Security Promotion Act, and international cooperation in supply chains (QUAD, IPEF). First, this paper evaluates Japan’s reshoring policy and points out that Japan’s success is due to the relatively clear-cut design of the government support programs, which made it easier for companies to comply with government policies. Second, this paper maintains that Japan’s semiconductor strategy focuses on attracting Taiwan’s TSMC and establishing advanced logic and foundries. Third, this research analyzes the Japanese government’s supply chain policy, as is revealed in the Economic Security Promotion Act, enacted in May 2022. Finally, this research looks into Japan’s international cooperation in supply chain, which is still in the early stage of development, focuses on the US-led QUAD and IPEF.
Chapter 3, “Digital Trade,” this research identifies three characteristics of Japan’s digital trade strategy by analyzing its digital trade-related agreements. They are: first, reinforcement of digital trade (e-commerce)- related norms, as is epitomized by the Three Principles of TPP; second, enhanced interoperability in regards to personal information protection, while allowing for differences in the level of protection according to each country’s legal system; and third, inclusion of cooperation clauses in most FTAs, in order to promote the development of e-commerce and digital trade among FTA parties. The chapter ends by pointing out some of the remaining challenges in Japan’s digital trade norms.
In chapter 4, “Climate Change Response,” this research summarizes Japan’s energy transition policy renewable energy, next-generation nuclear power technologies, hydrogen energy—which is the most critical element in tackling climate change. The findings are as follows: firstly, Japan’s climate change strategy is unique in that the government views it as a catalyst for economic growth, which will transform the country’s industrial and socio-economic structure by promoting private investment and productivity; secondly, Japan is leveraging all available policy options facilitate energy transition from existing fossil fuels to renewable and hydrogen energy; thirdly, Japan’s international cooperation in climate change focuses on the “QUAD Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP)” that was agreed in the QUAD Summit in May 2022.
In chapter 5, “Health and Development Cooperation,” this research summarizes Japan’s development cooperation following the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on health and medical fields, as well as the linkage between Japan’s ODA and the Indo-Pacific strategy. The research finds that: firstly, Japan’s development cooperation in the health and medical fields centers around bilateral and COVAX-related vaccine support for Southeast Asian countries, Taiwan, and Middle Eastern countries, in addition to support for diagnostic/ treatment and healthcare systems through JICA; secondly, in relation to the Indo-Pacific concept, Japan is consistently increasing its budget for “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)”-related ODA, utilizing regional security cooperation frameworks such as the “Vaccine Partnership” and “New Quad Infrastructure Partnership;” it is also noteworthy that the country’s revised “Development Cooperation Charter” embraces a much more concrete version of FOIP concept compared to the previous versions.
Based on the analysis of each chapter, this research provides following policy suggestions for the future Korea-Japan cooperation. Firstly, in the field of supply chain restructuring, the study advocates for a re-evaluation of the current reshoring policy that focuses on assisting “U-turn” firms, taking into consideration the on-going technological competition between the US and China and the US’s decoupling policy from China. This research also points out that further discussion is needed on how to enhance the effectiveness of Korea’s Basic Supply Chain Act, as well as how to stabilize supply chains between Korea and Japan in the US-led IPEF framework. Second, regarding digital trade, this research proposes that Korea leverage its experience in endorsing the “Korea-ASEAN Digital Partnership Agreement” to sign the “Korea-Japan Digital Partnership Agreement.” In addition, this research suggests expanding joint projects on digital trade, such as establishment of a Korea-Japan e-commerce joint platform. Thirdly, concerning climate change, the research proposes benchmarking Japan’s JCM system, pursuing Korea-Japan joint response to the EU’s CBAM, and jointly developing overseas hydrogen and ammonia energy. Finally, in relation to development cooperation, this research proposes that Korea and Japan collaboratively strengthen development cooperation in emerging areas as health and medical cooperation, digital transition and green transformation, and that the Korean government contemplate expanding overseas infrastructure investment through the ODA, following the Japanese government’s approach.