By SHOICHIRO TAGUCHI, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday briefed Japanese semiconductor executives about a new initiative that will provide hefty subsidies to chip companies that invest in the U.S.
Washington is eager to diversify the chip supply chain, amid concerns over tensions between China and Taiwan. Much of the world’s chipmaking capacity is concentrated on the self-governing island, which China claims as its own. After more than a year of debate, the U.S. this summer passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which includes $52 billion in support for the semiconductor industry.
“The CHIPS Act is a demonstration of the commitment of the U.S. to ensure that we are moving forward investing in innovation, investing in research and development, understanding that that is the way that we improve the human condition,” Harris said.
In response to passage of the act, U.S. semiconductor giant Micron Technology announced plans to invest $15 billion to build a new plant in its home state of Idaho. Other companies have also begun to announce new investment plans.
So far, however, no Japanese manufacturers have committed to major investments in the U.S. in response to passage of the bill. The vice president’s roundtable with Japanese semiconductor-related companies appeared to be aimed at underscoring the importance of U.S.-Japan cooperation in the field, as well as at deepening Japanese companies’ understanding of the new policies.
“We see Japan as playing a very important, critical role in our ability to do this work, and to address the challenges that we face,” said Harris, who came to Japan for the state funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Japan and the U.S. share a commitment to work on resilient supply chains and to invest in forward-looking innovation,” she said.
Taiwan accounts for about 90% of the world’s advanced chip production capacity — those with circuit line widths of less than 10 nanometers. The U.S. considers it essential to diversify the supply chain to counter China’s stepped up domestic production and research, and in light of the danger of an emergency in the Taiwan Strait.