Prime Minister Kishida sees US-Japan chip synergy on horizon at bilateral summit

Chiang, Jen-Chieh, Taipei; Samuel Howarth, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: AFP

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he sees more opportunities for cooperation with the US in the next-generation semiconductors.

According to reports from Nikkei and Reuters, Japan's Prime Minister Kishida began a visit to the US on Tuesday, April 9. The trip will include a bilateral summit meeting with President Joe Biden set for April 10.

Kishida met with US business leaders from the semiconductor, energy, pharmaceutical, and financial sectors. He discussed cooperation between Japan's semiconductor factory Rapidus, jointly invested by Toyota and seven other Japanese companies, and US companies on developing next-generation semiconductor mass production technology.

Chips centurions

Kishida mentioned the collaboration between Rapidus and IBM in developing 2-nanometer chip mass production technology. The partnerships consist of 100 engineers from Rapidus currently learning technology at IBM's Albany Nanotech Center, and an additional 100 engineers expected to join within 2024.

Prime Minister Kishida said there will be more opportunities for US-Japan cooperation going forward.

Kishida also talked about his commitment to net-zero carbon policies. He said he hopes Japanese and American companies and research institutions with relevant advanced technologies can collaborate to lead the global green transformation.

He said that Japan's investment in the US is the largest globally. Investments are expanding mutually between Japan and the US in semiconductor, AI, energy, and other fields, making their economic relationship increasingly close and complicated.

Microsoft's President Brad Smith also announced plans to invest US$2.9 billion to establish a data center supporting AI computation in Japan over the next two years. This marks Microsoft's largest investment project in Japan.

The elephant at the summit

This bilateral summit meeting between Japan and the US is mainly focused on cooperation on China-related issues in the strategic and economic security field, though Kishida refrained from mentioning China specifically during his speech. He emphasized the importance of jointly building economic resilience and driving global economic growth.

Key items on the economic security front of the bilateral summit meeting will include establishing new rules for strategic materials such as semiconductors, batteries, and permanent magnets. There will also be an effort to set standards for subsidies related to net-zero carbon and collaborating on advanced technologies such as AI.

The US and Japan's generative AI synergy is demonstrated by collaboration between Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). The partnership involves the mutual use of basic language models and data.

One small step

Washington and Tokyo are also working on a spaceport project to develop rocket launch sites with US space startups considering moving into rocket launch sites in Hokkaido and Oita Prefecture in Japan. Rockets launched by Japan will be established with secrecy agreements to prevent technology leaks.

The principles of the economic and technological cooperation sought by the US and Japan are expected to be reflected in a joint statement at the summit's conclusion.