Japan Makes Memory-Chip Revival a National Mission



Yoshiaki Nohara | Bloomberg News

Japan says reviving its semiconductor industry is a national project and now signs are emerging that the government is ready to put real money behind those words.

Decades of under-investment have left the country, once the world’s biggest maker of microchips, dependent on South Korea and Taiwan for most of its semiconductors. This year’s global supply shortage has underscored justhow risky a proposition that is.

So, the Trade Ministry this month declared boosting a home-grown chip industry a national mission, no less important than securing food and energy.

To get the plan off the ground, though, Japan must set aside concerns about its ballooning debt. At least a trillion yen ($9 billion) needs to be committed this fiscal year and trillions more after that, according to Tetsuro Higashi, former president of Japan’s biggest chip-equipment maker, Tokyo Electron, and now the government’s top adviser on its semiconductor strategy.

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