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Japan joins US-led effort to restrict China’s access to chip-making equipment

Japan is officially moving forward with sanctions aimed at limiting China’s access to advanced chip manufacturing machinery. As CNN According to reports, the country announced on Friday that it would tighten export controls on 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. After the new rules go into effect in July, companies such as Nikon and Tokyo Electron will need to get approval from Japan’s trade ministry if they want to sell their equipment in some 160 regions around the world. A Japanese government spokesman told CNN Sanctions are not designed to target any specific nation. However, Japan’s East Asian rival is among the nations on the banned list.

“We will fulfill our responsibilities in the international community as a technology-owning country and contribute to maintaining international peace and security,” Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters.

The sanctions follow the US and the Netherlands implementing similar export controls. At the beginning of the year, the three countries reportedly struck a deal to limit China’s access to Western-made lithography machines. In March, the Netherlands made good on the deal, announcing that it would restrict foreign sales of semiconductor technology in the interest of its national security. Those restrictions will affect ASML. Until last year, the Dutch firm was the only company in the world producing the extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machines chip makers need to make the 5nm and 3nm semiconductors that power the latest phones and computers.

China has indigenous companies that have enabled the country’s tech industry to experience some of the drawbacks from a lack of access to Western-made lithography equipment. However, it may take some time for those companies to match the capability of their American, Japanese and European rivals. according to research from reutersShanghai Micro Electronics Equipment (SMEE), the only producer of lithography equipment in China, builds machines capable of printing 90nm node semiconductors. More promising is the work of SMIC, the country’s leading semiconductor maker. Last summer, it began volume production of 14nm chips and began making 7nm chips without access to foreign-made equipment.


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