The US is urging Japan to curb China’s efforts to develop high-end chips

The high-tech competition between the US and China is intensifying

The United States has directly asked the Japanese government to cooperate in thwarting China’s efforts to develop high-end semiconductors, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.

The request, noting that the two countries are allies who share strategies against China, was made by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during her phone call with Japanese Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Friday.

In October, the United States unveiled a comprehensive set of export controls on some advanced chips that could be used by Beijing to train artificial intelligence systems and power advanced military and security applications.

The request to Nishimura would be the first ministerial request by the United States on this issue. Washington’s push to create a multilateral regulatory framework comes amid concerns that there will be loopholes in its export controls if Japan and the Netherlands continue to supply China with essential units to make advanced chips.

Matthias Hiekel (DPA/AFP/File)

Outside the USA, Tokyo Electron and the Dutch company ASML Holding NV occupy the leading positions on the world market for semiconductor equipment. But Tokyo’s imposition of similar export restrictions on China would inevitably provoke a backlash from Beijing and likely make any concrete political cooperation difficult to achieve.

As the high-tech competition between the US and China intensifies, Japan finds itself increasingly caught between its ally and its most important trading partner. Japan lags behind Taiwan and South Korea in the global semiconductor industry and has in recent years caught up and established a cooperative relationship with the United States.

The two countries agreed this year to increase efforts to promote supply chain resilience in strategic sectors such as semiconductors, batteries and critical minerals.

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