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24 Jul 2022

Rieko Miki, Nikkei Asia

Japan & US to agree to create guidelines for infrastructure investment and human rights safeguards in supply chains, aiming to set unified standards for broad adoption in Indo-Pacific

"Japan, U.S. to align on human rights, infrastructure at 2-plus-2" 24 July 2022

Japan and the U.S. will agree to create guidelines for infrastructure investment in developing countries and human rights safeguards in supply chains when their top foreign policy and economy officials meet in Washington this month, Nikkei has learned.


Allies Japan and the U.S. aim to set unified standards for broad adoption in the Indo-Pacific region as China's influence grows through its position as a manufacturing hub and its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.


The agenda is likely to cover alleged human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang -- a major producer of cotton used by global apparel companies and an electronics assembly hub. [...]

At a ministerial meeting in May, Japan and the U.S. agreed on basic principles including tougher exports controls over technology that can enable repression, such as facial recognition. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Biden have confirmed during their own talks the need to remove forced labour from global supply chains.


The 2-plus-2 meeting will also seek clarity on how multinational companies should respond to revelations of forced labour or other abuses in supply chains.


Japan lacks legal and regulatory tools to restrict imports and exports based on human rights concerns. By creating common standards with the U.S. for exercising human rights-related trade policy, Tokyo aims to give businesses more certainty for planning.

Guidelines for infrastructure investment will also be on the agenda [...]. The U.S. and Japan will seek to ensure transparency, continuity and protections for the environment in infrastructure projects. [...]


Once Japan and the U.S. agree on common standards, their next step would be to seek adoption in the Group of Seven and the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.