TOKYO: Japan’s trade ministry said Friday that it will start soliciting public comments on a plan to revise an ordinance under the foreign exchange and trade law to restrict exports of advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
The ministry will accept public comments through April 29, hoping to introduce the export restrictions on 23 semiconductor manufacturing machines in July.
The move is aimed at joining the United States and the Netherlands, both home to major semiconductor manufacturing equipment makers, in efforts to prevent advanced semiconductor technologies from being used for military purposes. Behind such efforts is China’s growing military pressure against Taiwan.
The 23 items include equipment to remove impurities generated during the semiconductor manufacturing process and the machine to produce semiconductor films.
Under the plan, Japan’s exports of the 23 devices will be restricted worldwide and approval from the Japanese trade minister will be required to export the items.
Meanwhile, exports to the United States and some other countries with fewer security concerns would be exempted from acquiring approval each time.
“Japan has highly sophisticated technologies for semiconductor manufacturing equipment,” Japanese trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a press conference on Friday. “We want to fulfill our responsibility as a technology holder in preventing diversion to military applications.”
According to Japanese government sources, some 10 Japanese firms, including Tokyo Electron Ltd. and Nikon Corp., would be affected by the introduction of the export restrictions.
In consideration of the impact on such firms’ businesses, the ministry limited the scope of devices subject to the curbs to sophisticated ones.
In October last year, the United States effectively banned the exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and related technologies to China. The Netherlands is set to follow suit.
Japan judged it necessary to reinforce its restrictions in order to increase the effectiveness of regulations introduced by other countries.