Japanese technology companies are unarmed, senior officials warn
The former Minister of Economy of Japan stated that Japan is unprepared for the acquisition of sensitive technology companies such as Toshiba by foreign radical investors because domestic shareholders have not stepped forward in the crisis.
Akira Amari, head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s semiconductor policy group, said that the Japanese private sector has “zero awareness” of its importance to national security.
Amari is considering tightening export controls and Foreign investment rules In the context of increasing tensions between the United States and China over semiconductor technology issues.
Last month, activists dismissed Chairman of Toshiba Board of Directors, Demonstrating their ability to control one of Japan’s most sensitive technology companies, which have capabilities in nuclear, military, quantum computing, and chips.The company is still under pressure Consider private equity bids Following the failed acquisition attempt by CVC for $20 billion this year.
“The business community says Toshiba is so important, but only activists come forward-this is the core of the problem,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Amari’s comment reveals Disputed law The law on foreign investment passed last year did not solve Japan’s problems. These companies are most often targeted by activists, technology companies that are in trouble or in crisis.
apart from Domestic capital scarcityAmari said that unless Japan and the United States cooperate more closely to withstand threats from China, Japan may be irretrievably behind in semiconductor technology.
In the late 1980s, Japan’s chip industry surpassed the United States to become the world’s first. But it suffered a merciless decline. In addition to Kioxia and Sony, which have a large market share of flash memory chips, Which dominates When it comes to image sensors, the country’s chip makers cannot compete on the cutting edge.
However, the country still plays a pivotal role in semiconductor equipment and materials, and the United States hopes to retain Japanese technology Out of ChinaAt the same time, Tokyo hopes to maintain its sovereignty in chip manufacturing.
Part of japan New growth strategy Focus on strengthening its semiconductor supply chain from an economic and national security perspective, Respond to the initiative The Biden administration. Japan also agreed to provide funding for TSMC, the world’s largest chip contractor. set up Research institutions in the country.
“We are moving from a society that uses chips to a society where everything depends on chips,” Amari said. “If we miss this opportunity, we will never be able to close [competitive] gap. “
He said that it is difficult for any country to establish an independent chip industry. Therefore, for a free and democratic country, it is vital to work together to keep the supply chain in friendly hands.
“We need to build a [semiconductor] The supply chain with allies,” he said. “In terms of economic strength, the United States is the first and Japan is the third, so the first and third countries need to establish a strategic partnership to compete with the second largest country. “
Amari said that the United States often blocks security-sensitive transactions through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, but Japan has been unfairly criticized as protectionism in doing so.
Chinese investors have repeatedly tried to acquire Japanese chip technology, 2019 tender Kokusai Electric, a semiconductor equipment manufacturer under KKR. Amari said that some of the companies with the most important technologies are medium-sized companies and do not consider themselves particularly valuable.
“Sadly, the national security awareness of Japanese companies is almost zero. They care about how much money they can make,” he said. “Few business leaders have a strategic vision of how bad things will be five years from now.”
An important guide to the billions of dollars you have created and lost in the Asia Tech world.A selection of exclusive news, clear analysis, intelligent data and the latest technology boom from FT and Nikkei