The 16th Japan-U.S. Joint Working-Level Committee (JWLC) Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation took place online on June 17th, 2021. The JWLC was co-chaired by H.E. NAKANE Takeshi, Ambassador for Science and Technology Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and Dr. Jonathan Margolis, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Space, and Health, in the Bureau for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
The JWLC brought together representatives from a wide range of government agencies in both countries. They exchanged views on science and technology (S&T) policy, existing cooperation, and new areas for joint work. Participants also looked for ways to further strengthen collaboration between our world-class scientific communities in such areas as quantum technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and clean energy technology.
Attendees discussed a wide range of topics and policy initiatives, including ones based on the U.S.-Japan Competitiveness and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership launched in April by leaders of both countries. Japan and the United States have been global leaders in innovation, and this new partnership for competitiveness and innovation carries on that tradition, focusing on scientific and technological advances.
Following opening remarks by both co-chairs, the Japanese side introduced recent updates in the field of science and technology, including the 6th Science, Technology, and Innovation Basic Plan and an overview of its STI policy priorities.
The U.S. side highlighted Biden-Harris Administration policy initiatives on increasing diversity and inclusion in science and technology, more inclusive and equitable access to science and technology opportunities and knowledge, tackling climate change, working together on S&T projects and issues in third countries, and more. Pandemic preparedness and how governments and others can quickly respond to any future outbreak was also in focus.
The JWLC agenda then turned to meaningful exchange of views on health and biomedical research, COVID-19 resiliency, workforce development, research integrity, researcher and student exchanges and relevant information exchanges, and Japan’s Moonshot Research and Development Program.
Both sides also participated in “deep dive” discussions on quantum technology, artificial intelligence, and climate change and technology (clean technology). Participants highlighted existing cooperation and how it can be deepened to better utilize S&T. Artificial intelligence was discussed in detail, with an emphasis on policy perspectives and connecting researchers to one another. The value of collaboration in advancing quantum technology was recognized. Key discussions took place on recent developments and efforts in clean technology, including initiatives in decarbonization, sustainable and climate-smart agriculture, numerical simulation, biotechnology, and other areas. Ideas for enhancing collaboration among universities and research stakeholders were reviewed.
The JWLC featured the signing of a project arrangement on quantum information science between the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Arrangement will promote research and development on quantum communication, computing, emulation, devices, sensors, foundries, and materials. A number of activities are envisioned in the document, including the exchange of technical information and exchange of scientists, engineers, and students between the United States and Japan.
This JWLC reaffirmed the commitment by both countries to continue close partnership and coordination on science and technology cooperation and looked forward to discussions on a Joint High-Level Committee Meeting between Japan and the United States.