Harnessing the Power: Japan's PIVOTAL ROLE in the Semiconductor Showdown

It’s a war over chips, one that involves two kinds of governance. One language is mostly silent. It has to do with the power of technology. The other is state power. The battlefield for this war is the semiconductor industry. The war’s key figure is a country that is often underrated in geopolitical terms, but in many strategically critical ways is truly gigantic. That country is Japan. And it is central to the global race for semiconductor supremacy There are more than a billion silicon chips, or semiconductors, in the world. These chips are found in nearly every consumer device. They are in our smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and our digital televisions. They run secure and high-speed data networks that power the internet. And they are also embedded in low-energy control devices, such as home and industrial appliances, even inside our refrigerators, air conditioners, and baby monitors. What is so extraordinary about a semiconductor is that, similar to a living organism, it has a brain. In the brain of a semiconductor resides a tiny piece of silicon, a material found in our sand and loam soil and in granite, often the stone used to construct monuments, memorials, and buildings. Silicon is one of the most abundant elements on the planet, making up more than 25 per cent of the Earth’s crust.

Japan's Semiconductor SOVEREIGNTY: A Strategic Advantage

The Foundation of Chipmaking DOMINANCE

Japan’s control of core semiconductor materials – silicon wafers, photoresist, etching gases and such – has made it a potent market power in tech. Omdia, a technology research firm, points out that the materials, which are used to make the most advanced semiconductors, are sourced almost exclusively from Japan. ‘This means that Japan has a near-monopoly on some important materials used in the core of an LCD [liquid crystal display] panel, making it very difficult to substitute for,’ it noted. Plus, it’s a strategic choke point against potential tech rivals, such as the US and China.

A Critical Catalyst in the Tech Tug-of-War

The importance of Japan’s hold cannot be overstated. As technological power comes to define national security and economic strength, control over semiconductor supplies equates to politico-economic power. Both The Financial Times and Bloomberg run stories about Japan’s hold on semiconductor materials, emphasi... [Text is cutoff due to the limit]

Jun 09, 2024
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