Japan and the United States have committed to working closely together to improve the development and mass manufacturing of 2nm semiconductor processes. According to the Nikkei financial newspaper, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Koichi Hagiuda, arrived in the United States on Monday for talks about the combined endeavor.
The two governments’ goal is to create a cutting-edge semiconductor supply chain that is highly secure against leaks to China while also using their respective technological capabilities.
The Nikkei, as a Japanese media, went into further depth on what Japan has to offer the alliance. It shows that Japan has strengths in key semiconductor technologies such as silicon wafer manufacturing, photosensitive agent manufacturing, abrasives for semiconductor surface preparation, and semiconductor manufacturing equipment design. Tokyo Electron, Canon, and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology are some of the Japanese companies that could be involved in the collaboration.
The first is the transfer of technology to China. Taiwan’s government has been a vocal opponent of Chinese economic espionage. Quashing tech secret leaks from Taiwan to China, on the other hand, appears to be a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole that is difficult to continue. Similar espionage attempts may be made against Japan and the United States. Nonetheless, Taiwan’s proximity to China, as well as the fact that a significant portion of the population identifies as Chinese or part-Chinese, exacerbates security concerns. There’s also the issue of geopolitical stability, with China’s communist party regularly saber-rattling and making statements about absorbing democratic Taiwan with military force.
Another reason for the agreement between Japan and the United States is that Taiwan’s TSMC will not develop a cutting-edge foundry outside of the country. It wants to preserve the production technology for the crown jewels on its soil. The much-anticipated TSMC foundries in the United States and Japan are likely to produce only 10-20nm chips. Meanwhile, TSMC plans to start shipping Made-in-Taiwan 2nm products to customers in 2026.
Japan’s share of the global semiconductor market has been steadily declining since 1990 when it provided roughly half of the market with various chips. Its market share will be closer to 10% in 2022.