Japanese chip equipment makers unaware of China’s new export restrictions

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese makers of semiconductor manufacturing machinery and materials used to make chips said on Monday they had not yet heard from the Japanese government about any export restrictions that could directly affect or indirectly their activities in China.

Reuters contacted 10 chip-related companies, five of which – Advantest Corp, Nikon Corp, Resonac Holdings Corp, Lasertec Corp and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd – said they were not aware of any contact from Japan’s Ministry of Health. Economy, Trade and Industry over new restrictions reportedly agreed by Japan, the United States and the Netherlands last week to thwart rival China’s technological advances.

“As we don’t know what the situation is, we can’t comment on what the impact is and what our response will be,” said a spokesperson for Advantest, which makes chip testing machines and others. chip-related equipment.

Past restrictions on shipments of advanced semiconductors to China have not affected Japan as the country, which once dominated global chip manufacturing, now manufactures only about a tenth of the world’s semiconductors, most of them less advanced than chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. Co Ltd (TSMC) and the South Korean company Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Japan, however, is a major supplier of machinery used to make these cutting-edge semiconductors which could face restrictions following reports that Washington and other governments had agreed to a deal to limit their exports to China.

“South Korea has consistently beaten Japan in semiconductors all these years, but one thing it doesn’t have are steppers,” which are used to project electronic circuits onto silicon wafers, said Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. Without knowing the details of any new restrictions, it is impossible to know their impact, he said.

Dutch company ASML Holding NV, a key supplier to the chipmakers, said on Saturday it “understood” that progress had been made towards a multi-government agreement.

His statement followed a Bloomberg report that the United States had reached an agreement with the Netherlands and Japan.

The other five Japanese companies contacted by Reuters did not respond when asked about the possible impact of tougher export rules and whether they feared China would retaliate. Among them was Tokyo Electron Ltd, Japan’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing machinery.

Shares of Japanese semiconductor equipment makers were mostly flat on Monday, with Tokyo Electron up 0.68% while Advantest Corp fell 0.32%. Nikon Corp rose 0.16%, in line with the benchmark Nikkei average.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly, Mayu Sakoda, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Mariko Katsumura; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Christopher Cushing)

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