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Japanese PM eyes collaboration with US on next-gen computer chips

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday he saw opportunities for more collaboration with the United States in next-generation computer chips.

Kishida made the comment a day before a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden that will focus on boosting economic and defense ties to offset China’s growing might.

U.S. tech giant Microsoft said on Tuesday it would invest $2.9 billion over two years to expand its cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan, its largest investment in the 46 years it has operated in the Asian country.

Speaking at a roundtable on critical and emerging technologies hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Kishida referred to chip foundry venture Rapidus.

“In the semi-conductor field, Rapidus is partnering with a U.S. company in research and development of next generation chips,” Kishida said.

“There will surely be more such opportunities for collaboration between Japan and the United States.”

Rapidus is targeting mass production of cutting-edge chips on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido from 2027 in partnership with IBM and Belgium-based research organisation Imec.

Japan’s industry ministry said this month it had approved subsidies worth up to 590 billion yen ($3.9 billion) for the chip foundry venture as Tokyo pushes forward with plans to rebuild the country’s chip manufacturing base.

Kishida did not mention China in his brief address to the chamber, but said of the U.S. and Japan: “It is increasingly important for our two countries to build resilience in our economies and together drive growth for the global economy.”

The allies are looking to strengthen their control over chip supply chains given concerns about China’s intentions towards the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which produces the world’s most cutting-edge chips.

China claims Taiwan as it own and has not ruled out using force to bring it under its control. Reuters

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