Government plans to nurture semiconductor talent


The Government of Japan intends to launch programs to nurture talent in the battery and semiconductor industries in cooperation with companies and academia. Sources from the Ministry of Economy, citing the Japanese press, said that the Japanese authorities intend to extend these programs to the entire national territory on the basis of a model that has already been tested in the southern Kyushu region since last March. Thus, Tokyo aims to ensure that there are sufficient human resources for the national goals of digitization and decarbonization of the economy. The program, which has already been launched in Kyushu, includes Taiwanese giant Taiwanese semiconductor (Tsmc) giant Sony Group Corp. and Kyushu University. The Kinki District, located in western Japan, aims to promote talent training in energy storage technologies, in cooperation with Panasonic Holdings, among others. Other programs in the Tohoku and Chugoku regions in northeastern and western Japan will focus on semiconductors, while the Kanto region, around Tokyo and the Chubu region, will dedicate resources to artificial intelligence and other types of digital technologies.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (Tsmc) announced on February 15 its intention to increase capital investment to build its first semiconductor manufacturing plant in Japan. The investment initially agreed with the Japanese government and trading partners will be increased by 20 percent to $8.6 billion, with the aim of increasing the production capacity of the new plant to be built in Kumamoto Prefecture. Tsmc also announced that Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp will invest $350 million in Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc. , a subsidiary of Tsmc incorporated with Sony Semiconductor Solution Corps. Denso’s stake in Japanese subsidiary Tsmc will exceed 10 percent.

Tsmc will pledge to build a microchip manufacturing plant in Japan next year, and plans to have it operational as early as 2024. The company’s CEO, CCWei, confirmed last month. The plant will be built with a contribution from Japanese public funds, and will be jointly operated with Sony Group Corp. The semiconductors produced by Tsmc in Japan will be devoted to sectors such as the automotive sector. According to company sources mentioned in Japanese newspapers, Denso Corp may participate in the project, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, announced that Tsmc will invest nearly one trillion yen ($8.8 billion) in Japan. Ad Wei’s announcement, which he had been waiting for for months, came at the end of a phase of due diligence: “We have expressed a strong commitment to support this project by both our customers and the Japanese government,” he said. . The new plant will be built in Kumamoto, along with a site used by Sony to produce image sensors for smartphones.

Japan is determined to re-launch the semiconductor industry at the top of the world, which for decades has lost its leadership position at the expense of the leading companies in South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Thanks to the partnership with the Taiwanese giant Tsmc, Tokyo aims to re-emerge its hidden “heroes”, who over the years have continued to work more in the supply chain, creating machinery, materials and semi-finished products for the global chip industry. A window of opportunity can come from a new direction of technological development, that is, a new architecture based on the vertical overlap of chips. Tsmc, in cooperation with some of the major Japanese semiconductor companies, including Ibiden, JSr and Disco, will build a new research and development center in Japan.

For the country, this is an important injection of confidence, as government efforts to support innovation in the sector so far have not been able to generate a turning point in terms of power relations in the global market. However, the association with Tsmc will make Japan a competitive edge in the field of 3D semiconductor technology. The presence of Ibiden, the champion of microchip packaging in Japan, as well as research on chip integration in three dimensions conducted at the National Institute of Industrial Science and Advanced Technology in Tsukuba, north of Tokyo, were the basis for a new attempt to relaunch the sector. 3D integration is expected to reduce power consumption in data transmissions to one-thousandth of that used in 2D architectures, leading to widespread power savings for applications such as data centers and increased performance in technology-related applications. New technology is also a competitive arena from Intel and Samsung Electronics.

Japan’s government intends to make the allocation of public subsidies to semiconductor companies conditional on a promise to maintain production in the country for at least ten years. This was written by the Nikkei newspaper, which reports the latest rumors about Tokyo’s plans to try to re-launch itself as a major player in a strategic sector of the global economy. The Japanese government has already set up a public financing system aimed at supporting the construction of new microchip plants in the country, starting with a new multibillion-dollar microchip packaging plant for giant Taiwanese semiconductor maker Taiwan Corporation (Tsmc). Last month, the Japanese parliament passed legislation authorizing subsidies for the national semiconductor sector; To this end, $5.2 billion has been disbursed, to be disbursed starting next March. Two-thirds of this amount will go to Tsmc alone to build its first Japanese factory in Kumamoto Prefecture, in cooperation with the Sony Group.

The Japanese government is committed to setting public subsidy disbursement standards for the new advanced semiconductor production plant that Tsmc will open with Sony in Kumamoto Prefecture. The executive arm of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida presented to Parliament last month a series of regulatory changes that made explicit provisions for support for building strategic factories. In Japan, a law of a similar nature was already in force which, however, applied only to companies engaged in developing technologies related to 5G; Tokyo has formally identified the semiconductor industry as a new priority sector for the national economy, and allocated more than $5 billion through a fiscal year 2021 budget adjustment. Factories that benefit from public subsidies may be required to produce guarantees, investments and technology as well as the possibility of the state ordering increases in production in response to supply difficulties. The national economy has safeguards against leakage of sensitive information.

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