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    Japan to restrict export of semiconductor manufacturing equipments

    The Japanese government has announced plans to impose export restrictions on 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, following similar measures implemented by the United States and the Netherlands. The new policy is set to take effect in July, after a period of public comment. This move comes amidst ongoing tensions between the US and China over technology, particularly in the area of semiconductors, which are critical components in a wide range of devices, from mobile phones to military hardware.

    Japan’s trade and industry ministry did not explicitly mention either country in their announcement. Instead, the ministry stated that the new measures were intended to help Japan fulfill its responsibility as a technological nation in contributing to international peace and stability. The country’s trade minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, further emphasized that the restrictions were not coordinated with those imposed by the US.

    The Japanese restrictions will affect equipment supplied by major technology companies such as Tokyo Electron and Nikon. Affected exports will include tools used for cleaning silicon wafers and immersion lithography machines, which are critical in the production of microchips. Lithography machines use lasers to print tiny patterns on silicon as part of the chip manufacturing process.

    These new measures come in the wake of similar restrictions imposed by the US and the Netherlands. In October, the US government announced that companies exporting chips to China using American tools or software would require licenses, regardless of where the chips were made. The US had also urged Japan and the Netherlands to adopt comparable measures. Earlier this month, the Dutch government announced restrictions on the export of its most advanced microchip technology, citing national security concerns.

    Dutch trade minister Liesje Schreinemacher explained that the restrictions would target very specific technologies within the semiconductor production cycle.

    The Japanese restrictions will affect a broader range of companies than initially anticipated. While earlier discussions suggested that Tokyo Electron and Nikon would be the primary targets, sources familiar with the matter have indicated that around ten companies could be affected, including tech giant Advantest.

    Japan’s decision to implement export restrictions on semiconductor manufacturing equipment underscores the growing global concern over the production and distribution of advanced technologies. As tensions between the US and China continue to escalate, other nations may also find themselves having to navigate the delicate balance between economic interests and geopolitical pressures.

    Author

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    Anubha Pandey

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