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Friday, December 2, 2022
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    Japan backs major firms in next-gen chip project

    TOKYO (AFP) – Japan will pour half a billion dollars into a new project to develop and make next-generation microchips, the government said on Friday, as the global shortage of semiconductors sparks economic security concerns.

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

    Rapidus, the new firm said it aims to mass-produce next-generation semiconductors by 2027.

    The pandemic has fuelled a global shortage of semiconductors, an essential component of nearly all modern electronics, from smartphones to kitchen appliances and cars.

    This has forced businesses to slow manufacturing activity and has prompted calls for governments and firms to secure chip supplies as geopolitics become increasingly volatile – especially concerning Taiwan, which has a huge chip-producing capacity.

    Japan’s industry ministry said each company has invested around JPY one billion (USD7 million) in Rapidus, with MUFG Bank investing JPY300 million.

    On top of this, the government has said it will grant JPY70 billion to the project.

    At an unveiling of the new venture, Rapidus President Atsuyoshi Koike said economic security issues were “very problematic considering the global supply chain”.

    “It seems that everyone has come to understand the importance of semiconductors in recent years,” Koike told reporters, adding that “there has also been growing concern about the decline of the Japanese semiconductor industry”.

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