Japan is seeking to “drive growth” in the nation’s chip industry, trying to breathe new life into a sector with massive capacity, but trouble turning out cutting-edge products, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a report yesterday.
The ministry would treat semiconductor industry growth as a “national project” — as important as securing food and energy, it said.
The Japanese government will support the establishment of manufacturing bases, including through joint ventures with overseas chip foundries, the ministry said.
The push comes amid a global chip shortage that has weighed on manufacturing across a range of industries and threatens productions at Japanese automakers.
Japan’s share of global semiconductor sales dwindled to just 10 percent in 2019, down from 50 percent in 1988.
The country still has 84 chip factories, the most in the world, but they are not producing enough high-end products. As a result, Japan now has to import 64 percent of its semiconductors.
The report follows a draft growth strategy from the Japanese Cabinet secretariat issued earlier this week, which assessed that the country’s semiconductor manufacturing base is outdated.
Japan was the world’s biggest maker of microchips in the 1980s, but has since lost out to the likes of Taiwan and South Korea.
The ministry said that it will seek a “drastic revamp” of existing chip factories deemed strategically important in supporting the global supply chain.
It will also strengthen development of chips required for post-5G systems and supporting green innovation, it said.
The government will identify areas especially important to the nation and consider “special treatment” beyond policies taken for regular industries, the report said.
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