The Japanese government has announced intentions to impose export restrictions on 23 different semiconductor manufacturing machinery, aligning its technology trade restrictions with a US initiative to limit China’s capacity to produce sophisticated circuits.
Six categories of equipment, including cleaning, deposition, lithography, and etching, will be subject to export controls, the Economy, Trade, and Industry Ministry announced in a press release on Friday. Equipment manufacturers must request export authorization for all regions, although it did not specifically name China as the target of those actions.
“We are fulfilling our responsibility as a technological nation to contribute to international peace and stability,” The ministry stated that it intended to prevent the application of cutting-edge technology for military purposes.
The equipment produced by twelve Japanese companies, including Nikon Corp., Tokyo Electron Ltd., Screen Holdings Co. Ltd., and Advantest Corp., will likely be impacted by the export limitations that will go into effect in July.
“We expect the impact on domestic companies to be limited,” Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s minister of industry, stated at a news conference. “We don’t have one specific country in mind with these measures.”
Tokyo’s choice nevertheless came after the United States in October imposed extensive limits on chipmaking tool shipments to China due to worries that Beijing intended to exploit cutting-edge semiconductors to increase its military might. Yet for those limits to take effect, Washington requires support from key equipment suppliers Japan and the Netherlands.
According to insiders, Japan as well as the Netherlands agreed in January to join the US in limiting the shipment of chipmaking equipment to China that might be utilized to produce chips smaller than 14 nanometers, but they chose not to publicly announce the agreement to avoid upsetting Beijing. Tokyo has never made the existence of the deal publicly known.
A nanometre, or one billionth of a meter, is a unit of measurement used in the semiconductor industry. A chip is considered to be more advanced if it has fewer nanometres.
In a letter to the nation’s parliament earlier this month, the Dutch government also announced its intention to limit exports of chipmaking machinery. The tiny circuitry of chips is made using lithography technologies, which are dominated by the Dutch business ASML Holding NV.
China, which claims that the US has a “tech hegemony” because of its export limitations, asked the Netherlands to
“not to follow export control measures by certain countries”.