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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 September 27 - October 3  > Japanese cutting-edge chips are likely to be used in US weapons: Industry Ministry
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2023 September 27 - October 3 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Japanese cutting-edge chips are likely to be used in US weapons: Industry Ministry

September 30, 2023
In response to an Akahata inquiry on September 28, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) admitted to the possibility that the products of government-backed Rapidus Corporation, Japan’s leading-edge semiconductor maker, will be used by the U.S. in its military equipment.

Rapidus was established in August 2022 with the support of eight major companies, including Toyota, NTT, Sony, NEC, Soft Bank, and MUFG Bank. It plans to start mass production of cutting-edge chips in 2027 at a factory which is now under construction in Hokkaido’s Chitose City with the use of IBM’s 2-nanometer chip technology.

The Kishida government, considering the success of Rapidus as the last chance to revive the domestic semiconductor industry, poured a large amount of tax money to support the company’s business. The government has already provided 330 billion yen in subsidies and plans to provide additional subsidies while the chip maker expects to receive 2-trillion-yen financial support from the government.

In October 2022, a METI official visited the United States as an effort to gain support for Rapidus, and met with a Defense Department official in charge of the Pentagon’s semiconductor policy.

In response to an Akahata inquiry, the ministry said that the Japanese and U.S. officials talked about the use of Rapidus chips, and admitted that items in which the chips will be used include U.S. military equipment. When Akahata asked the ministry about the possibility that Pentagon and U.S. defense entities will join the list of Rapidus clients, the ministry answered that such a specific topic was not mentioned during the bilateral talk.

Cutting-edge semiconductors are used to produce cellphones, personal computers, and other home appliances. On the other hand, these chips play a vital role in operating hypersonic missiles, F35 fighter jets, and state-of-the-art AI-based military systems.

The Pentagon in its latest annual industrial capability report which was published in March 2023 saw the nation’s dependance on Taiwan in the semiconductor supply chain as a great risk. It expressed its intent to increase cooperation with Japan as a supply source.

Rapidus President Koike Atsuyoshi on May 22 said that high-end chips have a high demand in the field of national security, hinting that the company may become a supplier for military forces and defense businesses.

It is unacceptable that Japanese taxpayer money is used to support the company willing to become a supplier to the U.S. military.
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