New Japanese firm aims to start producing next-generation semiconductors by 2027

Jiji Press
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday.

Rapidus, a new semiconductor company established by eight leading Japanese firms, aims to start mass-producing domestic next-generation semiconductors by around 2027, the company said Friday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The firm plans to develop advanced 2-nanometer generation semiconductors, for which production technology has yet to be established. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

The eight firms — Toyota Motor Corp., NTT Corp., Sony Group Corp., NEC Corp., SoftBank Corp., Denso Corp., Kioxia Corp. (formerly Toshiba Memory Corp.) and MUFG Bank — will invest ¥7.3 billion in Rapidus.

Atsuyoshi Koike, who served as president of the Japanese subsidiary of U.S. semiconductor giant Western Digital Corp., was appointed Rapidus president.

The planned products — logic semiconductors for arithmetic processing — are used in artificial intelligence and other technologies. The finer the width of the semiconductor’s circuit lines, the higher the processing power.

Competition in the development of logic semiconductors is intensifying worldwide.

“We’ll boost Japan’s industrial strength through the mass production of next-generation semiconductors,” Koike said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday.

The firm will collaborate in research and development with the Leading-edge Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC), a technology-research association to be established as early as the end of this year under the stewardship of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.

The LSTC will be established based on an agreement between the Japanese and U.S. governments reached in July and will work with U.S. companies such as IBM Corp. and U.S. research institutions.

“The government will work on the development of next-generation semiconductors in cooperation with the United States and other willing countries,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a press conference following a Cabinet meeting Friday. “The establishment of the LSTC and support for Rapidus is going to be a big step forward.”

The government will give a ¥70 billion subsidy to Rapidus.

An observer said it would likely cost about ¥5 trillion to set up Rapidus, as a large initial investment is required to establish a semiconductor manufacturing base.

Based on the economic promotion law passed in May, the government intends to include semiconductors in the list of specified critical goods that are important to the economy and society, with a view to providing further support.