Apr 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Steelworkers bash Japan's Nippon, as Biden hosts Japanese prime minister

Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister, left, and US President Joe Biden, right, arrive for a news conference during a state visit in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United Steelworkers on Wednesday reaffirmed its opposition to Japan-based Nippon Steel's $14.9 billion proposed takeover of U.S. Steel.

Why it matters: The politics here are awkward — the statement is out on the same day President Biden is hosting Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida at the White House.

The big picture: The Biden administration has sided with the union in its opposition to the Nippon deal, but that stance is casting a bit of a shadow over the U.S.'s typically cordial relations with Japan.

Zoom in: In their statement Wednesday, "Nippon Steel Shows its True Colors," the Steelworkers said if allowed to acquire U.S. Steel, Nippon would favor the Japanese market over the U.S. market — and that could be damaging to U.S. workers.

State of play: The deal isn't likely to come up in talks between Biden and Kishida, administration officials told the New York Times. Because their positions on the deal are known to each other.

  • And when asked about the U.S. Steel deal at a press conference this afternoon, Kishida only said, "We understand that discussions are underway between the parties.  We hope these discussions will unfold in directions that would be positive for both sides."
  • The leaders put out a joint statement Wednesday afternoon affirming their alliance, and announcing new initiatives around defense, technology and climate — strengthening the relationship is seen as a key counter to China's influence in the Asia Pacific region.

At a state dinner this evening, per the NYT: "house-cured salmon and dry-aged rib-eye steak" is on the menu.

Go deeper: United Steelworkers' long history of influencing corporate mergers

Go deeper