China chip sanctions: Japan follows US export restrictions

Japan bows to US pressure and sanctions chip manufacturing exports to China. Nevertheless, the country is trying to retain its important trading partner.

The Japanese government is following the USA’s sanctions policy against China in order to weaken the semiconductor industry in the neighboring country of the Pacific state and thus slow down China’s economic development in this segment. On Friday, Japan issued export controls for production equipment and technologies used in semiconductor manufacturing, with only unrestricted exports to “preferred trading partners” (including the EU, Taiwan, and Singapore) – all other exports, therefore, require explicit approval. The new regulation also restricts such exports to China, although the country is not expressly named, reports the Handelsblatt.

Export restrictions are primarily aimed at China

At the end of last year, the USA had already expanded its sanctions against the chip industry in China and applied them to all production technology for high-performance chips worldwide that use US patents. It is said that there were also negotiations with Japan and the Netherlands to join these measures – in particular, because of the supplier companies ASML (Netherlands) and Tokyo Electron/TEL, and Nikon (Japan), which are important for semiconductor production. This specifically involves photolithographic processes for the production of semiconductor elements with structure sizes of less than 10 nanometers.

Japan is now taking this step and still attaches importance to the statement that the restrictions would not be directed against a specific country. This is intended to maintain the other important economic relationships with China that are not affected by these export restrictions and that make up a significant part of the Japanese economy; China is Japan’s most important Asian trading partner and the most important trading partner of Japan’s chip industry. According to the Handelsblatt report from now on, the Japanese government will examine whether there is a “danger of military misappropriation” in exports for semiconductor production. The government is now able to control the supply of products and equipment to certain companies abroad, while the Ministry of Commerce has the discretion to interpret the export rules.


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