Japan Restricts Semiconductor Exports Amidst the US-China Chip War

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Japan recently announced that it would restrict the exports of technological parts like semiconductors. Calling itself a technological nation, they claim to be fulfilling its responsibility toward global peace and stability.

Given that we rely on these semiconductors for our daily needs and national security, these new policies can have significant implications for those importing Japanese chips. The policy is open for public comment and will be implemented in July.

The Chip War

Many speculate whether this was Japan’s attempt at siding with the United States of America in the chip war. In October 2022, the US imposed that companies exporting to China require a special license, irrespective of where the product is manufactured. In response, China called the US a ‘tech hegemony.’

This portrayed US hostility and suspicions against the Chinese, and the US urged the Netherlands and Japan to follow suit.

However, Japanese trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura claims their restrictions were not coordinated with those of the US. Mr. Nishimura is set to meet his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, to discuss the matter and find a mutual solution.

The Consequences of Japanese Restrictions

Restrictions are to be made on 23 different types of semiconductors. Semiconductors are essential technological components in various sectors, from communication to clean energy. They also power our healthcare devices, transportation systems, and military weapons.

While the new policy is put in place to restrict technological investment in military weapons, could it be possible that there are consequences on the healthcare systems and energy sources?

Japan plans to continue exports if they are not used for military purposes and estimates that companies using the semiconductors for commercial purposes are not likely to be affected. If that were the case, China’s GDP might take a hit due to its large manufacturing sector, which would now be deprived of its essential components. China’s production of smartphones will allegedly not suffer, but there could eventually be a shortage in refrigerator, vehicle, and LED bulb production, which can have environmental consequences.

Growing Tensions

It seems Japan has imposed these restrictions stemming from the suspicion that China is using the semiconductors for military purposes. Since China has never been timid in expressing its military power, it can be concerning if they continue to invest in military technologies as it threatens global security. As a fellow Asian country, Japan is at risk of being geographically so close to China.

How China has received these restrictions is yet to be revealed. Will they understand Japan’s concerns or see it as an aggressive act of hostility? As the US builds tensions with Eastern countries, Japan’s new policy can be viewed as a support to the US. This might increase tension with its neighboring countries.

The Dutch are likely to follow in the same footsteps, but the decisions have yet to be concretized.

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