Japan-US ties stronger than ever, minister says amid US Steel scrutiny

Japan-US ties stronger than ever, minister says amid US Steel scrutiny

TOKYO – Japanese Industry Minister Ken Saito said on Friday that the United States-Japanese ties were “stronger than ever”, although he declined to comment directly on growing scrutiny in the United States of a proposed deal for Nippon Steel to buy US Steel.

Speaking at a regularly scheduled press conference, Saito said he was aware of a statement by the US National Economic Council director that the purchase deserves “serious scrutiny” but would not comment directly on private deals.

“I believe Nippon Steel simply needs to take the proper steps in the procedure,” he said. “In any case, the Japan-US alliance is stronger than ever … and it is important to work together in the field of economic security.”

The White House on Thursday said Nippon Steel’s $14.9 billion proposed acquisition of US Steel needed to be carefully scrutinized given the company’s core role in US steel production that is critical to national security.

The strongly worded White House statement comes amid growing criticism of the proposed deal by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the powerful United Steelworkers union, the main union at the third-largest US steel company.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel had welcomed the deal shortly after its announcement on Monday, saying in an X social media post the two companies were “defining the future of the key steel industry and forging a strong bond as they face a more competitive environment.”

He added that the deal would “deepen the bonds” between the US and Japan.

A US embassy spokesperson said on Friday the ambassador had no further comment on the deal. — Reuters