TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – Japan’s new Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi pledged Monday (Aug 29) to keep a close eye on nations, including China, to protect Japan from danger.

“We don’t have a specific nation to watch in mind,” Ms Takaichi told reporters. “However, we must keep a close eye on countries that could impact our economic security, including China.”

Ms Takaichi, who is known for her hawkish stance toward Japan’s powerful neighbour, took her post this month amid increasing government awareness of economic security.

Relations between the United States and China remain tense, while the war in Ukraine continues to cast a shadow over the global economy.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said economic security is “a fundamental requirement” for achieving sustainable economic growth in his key economic policy plan published in June.

Japan’s economic recovery from the pandemic has been sluggish compared to other advanced economies. It’s been hampered by a lack of semiconductors, and a series of cyberattacks have also disrupted economic activities in the nation.

In March, Toyota Motor’s Japanese factories suspended output after a key parts supplier shut down its computer systems due to a cyberattack.

That was a blow to the carmaker’s efforts to make up for lost production earlier this year.

Speaking about supply chains, Ms Takaichi said it is “extremely” important to strengthen those for semiconductors.

Improving collaboration with allies, including the US, will be key, she added.

Still, the new economic security minister refrained from commenting on specific additional support measures for now.

Last year, Japan succeeded in getting Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, one of the largest chipmakers in the world, to build a manufacturing plant in the country.

“We’re beginning to see firms relocate their production bases back to Japan,” said Ms Takaichi. “It’s a welcome development from an economic security perspective, but we’ll also have to make sure there’s sufficient domestic support.”