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May 18, 2023updated 19 May 2023 8:09am

UK and Japan announce ‘Hiroshima Accord’ deal on semiconductors and cybersecurity

The 'Hiroshima Accord' will see the two nations co-operate on a range of tech and trade issues.

By Matthew Gooding

The UK and Japan will work more closely on developing semiconductors, and cybersecurity provisions, under a new strategic partnership. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida will sign the “Hiroshima Accord” when they meet in the city later today.

Rishi Sunak has arrived in Tokyo ahead of the G7 Conference. He will sign the ‘Hiroshima Accord’ with Japan today. (Photo by Number 10 Press Office/Flickr)

Sunak’s government has shown itself keen to strike more tech trade deals with nations around the world following Brexit, and today’s news builds on a collaboration penned in December, where the UK and Japan agreed to work together on data regulation, supply chain resilience and artificial intelligence.

Hiroshima Accord to strengthen UK chip development?

The full text of the Hiroshima Accord has yet to be published, but according to the government announcement “the UK and Japan will launch a semiconductors partnership, with new commitments to pursue ambitious R&D cooperation and skills exchange, strengthening our domestic sectors and bolstering supply chain resilience in an increasingly competitive market”.

Both countries have been keen to boost their domestic chip capabilities following the 2021 global chip shortage which exposed the vulnerability of the semiconductor supply chain. The UK government has faced sustained criticism – from industry and MPs – for its lack of progress on a national semiconductor strategy. The strategy is said to have finally been completed, two years after it was promised, and could be released this week.

Japan, which made more than half the world’s chips in its 20th-century heyday, is expected to hold just 13% of the market by 2030, with its neighbours China, South Korea and Taiwan dominating semiconductor production.

It has taken steps to remedy this with plans to subsidise domestic chip making, and this week it was revealed it is set to provide incentives to South Korea's Samsung worth more than $110m to convince it to build a new chip factory, or fab, near Tokyo.

The Japanese government has also provided financial backing to a new chip company, Rapidus, which in December announced it will work with IBM to develop a manufacturing process for the company's advanced 2nm semiconductor technology.

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Cybersecurity cooperation between the UK and Japan

The agreement also covers defence and clean energy production, and the prime minister is expected to agree a new cyber partnership with Japan, the announcement says. "This will deepen UK-Japan cooperation on cyber and set a high level of ambition for the future relationship, with Fujitsu UK joining the National Cyber Security Centre’s Industry 100, and the UK and Japan piloting a new Japan Cyber Security Fellowship to develop future cyber leaders," the government says.

Japan has experienced cybersecurity problems in recent weeks, with automaker Toyota announcing that it left vehicle location data exposed online for ten years, an incident that affected over two million customers. Last year, government systems were crippled by an attack from Russian hackers Killnet.

As reported by Tech Monitor, the nation has also been a prime target for North Korea's hackers, who have stolen cryptocurrency worth $721m from Japanese victims in the past five years, according to a report released this week.

Sunak, who is in Japan for the G7 conference of world leaders, said: "Prime Minister Kishida and I are closely aligned on the importance of protecting peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and defending our values, including free and fair trade.

"The Hiroshima Accord will see us step up cooperation between our armed forces, grow our economies together and develop our world-leading science and technology expertise.  It marks an exciting next phase in the UK and Japan’s flourishing partnership."

Read more: Rishi Sunak backs Online Safety Bill despite encryption fears

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