Japan’s efforts to return to the top table of chip-making nations has impressed the head of a leading chip research organisation.
Japan, a leading provider of chipmaking tools and materials that lost its edge in manufacturing in recent decades, is providing large subsidies to domestic and foreign chipmakers to build capacity.
And Luc Van den hove, CEO of Belgium-based Imec, told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday: “Japan this time has taken a bold approach and has implemented very quick decision making.”
One key initiative is chip foundry venture Rapidus, which is led by veteran chip executives and hopes to manufacture cutting-edge chips by partnering with IBM and Imec.
The company is targeting territory dominated by big players including Taiwan’s TSMC and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, which have spent years building up their chipmaking operations.
“What Rapidus is trying to do is extremely difficult,” said Van den hove, adding that “the Japanese team and government are very motivated to make it a success, so I’m positive.”
Imec, an important part of chipmaking research efforts funded by industry and governments, is considering opening offices in Hokkaido, where Rapidus production will be located, and in Tokyo, Van den hove said.
Countries around the world are looking to strengthen their control over chip supply chains after global shocks including the pandemic and trade tensions between the US and China.
“If everybody is going to try to do everything on their own and decouple the world then it will result actually in a lot of duplication, in a lot of additional cost and in actually a slowdown in innovation,” Van den hove said.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara