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U.S., Japan shake hands over semiconductors

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris aims to diversity the semiconductor supply chain.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris(R) speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel after arriving at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan on Monday. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/cce5c90d4f53c3b9f9ca1056cd144e5a/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris(R) speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel after arriving at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan on Monday. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Partnering with Japan on semiconductor research can go a long way toward rebuilding the global supply chain and incentivizing new innovations, the U.S. vice president said Wednesday.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met in Tokyo with Japanese business leaders working in the semiconductor business to discuss investments in the U.S. manufacturing sector as well as ways to build up the supply chain for associated materials.

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"This meeting emphasizes a very important point, which is the economic partnership between the United States and Japan is a longstanding one and an enduring one, both in terms of not only the history but our vision for the future for our respective countries in the world," Harris said.

Her visit follows the early-August signing by U.S. President Joe Biden of the CHIPS and Science Act, a bill that aims to energize the domestic manufacturing of semiconductor chips and other technologies critical to many U.S.-based supply chains.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed weaknesses in manufacturing and supply chains due to their dependence on foreign chips. The White House said the bill will lower the cost of everyday goods, strengthen American manufacturing and innovation, as well as bolstering economic and national security.

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"Many of us talked about the weakness of the supply chain even before the pandemic," the vice president said. "It was almost predictable, but the pandemic brought it to the fore in a very vivid and clearway, which is that we have to diversify our reliance on essential supplies -- Japan, the United States, and the world."

Executives from Tokyo Electron, Nikon Corp. and other companies were on hand for the meeting with Harris, who was also on hand as the U.S. representative for the funeral of slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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The White House said the CHIPS Act could bring in as much as $52.7 billion in new investments in semiconductor production and development. So far, tech companies have committed to nearly $50 million in new investments.

Washington sees the measure as a way to loosen dependencies on countries such as China, which dominate the tech market.

"No one country can satisfy the globe's demand," Harris said.

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