TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government said on Friday it plans to restrict exports of 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, aligning its technology trade controls with a push by the United States to rein in China’s ability to make advanced chips.
Japan, home to the world’s top chip equipment makers such as Nikon Corp and Tokyo Electron Ltd, did not specify China as the target of those measures, saying equipment makers will need to apply for export permits for all regions.
“We are fulfilling our responsibility as a technological nation to contribute to international peace and stability,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement. He said his goal was to stop the use of advanced technology for military purposes.
Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a news conference that Japan does not have a specific country in mind with the measures.
But Tokyo’s decision is seen as a major diplomatic victory for the administration of US President Joe Biden, which in October announced sweeping restrictions on China’s access to US chip-making technology to curb its technological and military advances.
Without the cooperation of industry heavyweights Japan and the Netherlands, American companies would face a competitive disadvantage.
Japan and the Netherlands agreed in January to join the US in restricting exports to China of chip-making equipment that could be used to make chips smaller than 14 nanometers, but did not announce the pact to avoid provoking Beijing, they said. sources above. Tokyo has never publicly acknowledged any agreement.
A nanometer, or one billionth of a meter, refers to a specific semiconductor industry technology, with fewer nanometers generally meaning the chip is more advanced.
The Dutch government in a letter to parliament this month said it plans to restrict exports of chip-making equipment. Large Dutch company ASML Holding NV dominates the market for lithography systems used to create tiny chip circuits.
China, which has accused the United States of being a “technological hegemon” because of its export restrictions, urged the Netherlands “not to follow the export control measures of certain countries.”
The ministry said it will impose export controls on six categories of equipment used in chip making, including cleaning, deposition, lithography and etching.
The restrictions, effective from July, are likely to affect equipment made by at least a dozen Japanese companies, including Nikon, Tokyo Electron, Screen Holdings Co Ltd and Advantest Corp.
Takamoto Suzuki, Marubeni’s head of economic research in China, said the measures will hit Japanese equipment makers hard given the absence of a strong domestic chip market.
“It will undermine the market development of Japanese companies and will certainly reduce their competitiveness from a regulatory point of view,” he said.
Asked about the impact, Minister Nishimura said, without elaborating, that he expected a limited impact on domestic companies.
Japan, which once dominated chip production but has seen its market share fall to around 10%, remains a major supplier of chip-making machines and semiconductor materials. Tokyo Electron and Screen make about a fifth of the world’s chip-making tools, while Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd and Sumco Corp make the majority of silicone wafers.
Nikon and Advantest share prices rose 0.8% and 1.9% respectively after the news, in line with the 1.1% rise in the broader market. Tokyo Electron and Screen were little changed.
The companies did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly, Miho Uranaka and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Christopher Cushing)