Japan govt backs major firms in next-gen chip project

Publish November 12, 2022
government

Tokyo – The Japanese government will pour half a billion dollars into a new project to develop and make next-generation microchips, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday.

Eight major companies including Sony, SoftBank, Toyota and telecoms giant NTT have joined forces for the venture, Japanese media reports said.

The new firm, named Rapidus, will develop and mass produce next-generation semiconductors by 2027, according to major media outlets including national broadcaster NHK and the Mainichi Shimbun.

The pandemic has fuelled a global shortage of memory chips, with governments scrambling to secure supplies as carmakers and tech companies have been forced to make production cuts.

Each company has invested around one billion yen ($7 million), with MUFG Bank investing 300 million yen, according to the industry ministry.

The investor companies are expected to officially announce the project later on Friday.

The ministry will grant 70 billion yen to Rapidus to lead a research and development project for next-generation semiconductors, Matsuno said without elaborating.

“Semiconductors are a key technology that supports digitalisation and decarbonisation,” Matsuno said at a regular briefing.

“We hope these steps will help improve the competitiveness of our country’s semiconductor industry.”

The chip shortage has prompted calls for the government and businesses to secure semiconductor supplies for Japan’s economic security, as geopolitics become increasingly volatile — especially concerning Taiwan, which has a huge chip-producing capacity.

The United States recently introduced new measures to limit China’s access to high-end semiconductors with military uses, a move that has wiped billions from chip companies’ valuations worldwide.

The German economy ministry also has recommended that the sale of a chip factory to a Chinese-owned firm should be blocked as it poses a security threat, government sources said Tuesday.

Last year, Taiwanese chip giant TSMC and Sony said they would tie up on a new $7 billion plant in Japan.

iraqinews

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