Japan PM vows to lead setting up int’l AI rules through new framework

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Thursday to take the lead in formulating global regulations on the appropriate use of generative artificial intelligence technology through a new framework involving like-minded nations.

In a speech at a session of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, Kishida expressed his appreciation for the launch earlier in the day of the grouping, which aims to bring more participants into the AI ​​initiative agreed upon at the Group of Seven summit he hosted last year.

“Let us collaborate as nations united by a common purpose to address the universal opportunities and risks brought about by AI, and work toward achieving safe, secure and trustworthy AI,” Kishida said in the OECD meeting.

He told reporters afterwards that “a total of 49 countries and regions will participate” in the Friends Group for the initiative.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a carbon emissions-cutting forum in Paris on May 2, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Kishida, who is in the French capital on the first stop of his six-day overseas trip, attended the OECD’s ministerial council meeting as Japan serves as its chair in 2024.

The creation of the initiative, known as the Hiroshima AI Process, was agreed upon at the G7 summit hosted by Kishida in May last year in the western Japanese city, its constituency.

The Friends Group framework was set up as the world has been seeking ways to harness the benefits of rapidly developing generative AI tools amid fears that the spread of disinformation through misuse of the technology could threaten democracy and political stability.

Kishida also promised to work with other OECD members in tackling climate change and various other global issues while pursuing free and open investment and trade.

In a bid to grapple with environmental problems, Kishida welcomed the recent establishment of a ministerial dialogue on decarbonization, called the Inclusive Forum on Carbon Mitigation Approaches, which is the OECD’s flagship initiative.

“The climate crisis is a challenge common to all humankind that cannot be postponed, and it demands a holistic effort from all nations,” Kishida said.

On the international trade front, Kishida voiced readiness to work in tandem with other countries to maintain and bolster a “rules-based, free and fair economic order, with the World Trade Organization at its core.”

“We also need to strengthen our cooperation to ensure economic resilience and economic security, such as addressing economic coercion and non-market policies and practices, enhancing supply chain resilience, and protecting critical technologies,” he said.

The use of economic coercion as a means to achieve political goals has drawn condemnation, particularly as some democracies find themselves adversely affected by the tactics allegedly employed by authoritarian regimes.

Kishida committed to helping expand the membership of the 38-member OECD so that countries from around the world, including those in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, can participate in the organization.

“As one of the few Asian members, Japan will continue to act as a bridge between the OECD and the Asian region, contributing to the OECD’s continued leadership in the global economy,” he said.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Tokyo joining the Paris-based club of mostly wealthy nations.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 2, 2024, ahead of their talks. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Later Thursday, Kishida also met with French President Emmanuel Macron and agreed to initiate negotiations on a reciprocal access agreement so the two countries’ defense forces can cooperate more closely as well as enhance bilateral work in AI-related fields, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry .

France will host a summit on the safe use of AI next year.

Also on Thursday in Paris, Japan and the European Union held a high-level economic dialogue, agreeing to coordinate and advance efforts to build more transparent, resilient and sustainable supply chains.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, industry minister Ken Saito and Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s executive vice president for economy, expressed “deep concern about the weaponization of economic dependencies on certain supply sources for strategic goods,” recognizing the need to address “systemic vulnerabilities ” and work together to promote a level playing field, according to their joint statement.

Kishida will also visit Brazil and Paraguay during Japan’s Golden Week holiday period in early May.

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