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Microsoft to Invest Billions in Japan's AI Growth

Microsoft pledges $2.9 billion for AI initiatives in Japan, aligning with Tokyo's push for enhanced computing power as part of its national priorities.



Microsoft Corporation logo in Washington, United States. (©Reuters via Kyodo)

Microsoft Corporation is set to significantly amplify its artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives in Japan by 2025. The tech giant will inject a staggering $2.9 billion USD into Japan over two years. Microsoft President Brad Smith unveiled this bold strategic move in an interview with The Nikkei newspaper published on April 9. Smith said the investment comes in response to Tokyo's push for increased computing power for artificial intelligence.

The funding was officially announced on April 9 (ET), coinciding with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's visit to the United States.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (second from left) meets with Microsoft President Brad Smith (second from right) on April 9 in Washington, United States. (©Kyodo)

Ambitious Plans

Microsoft aims to enhance its AI capabilities by deploying advanced semiconductors at facilities in eastern and western Japan. In addition to infrastructure upgrades, the company is set to roll out an expansive AI-focused reskilling program. 

As part of this initiative, Microsoft also aims to train three million workers across Japan over three years. Furthermore, Microsoft plans to establish a cutting-edge research and development hub in Tokyo, dedicated to advancing robotics and AI technologies. 

Smith emphasized the importance of AI adoption and domestic capability investments. "It has become a critical national priority for governments around the world," he stated.

He also highlighted the significance of infusing AI into robotic development. This "gives Japan the opportunity to build on its technological strengths in many other areas," he explained. Microsoft will also collaborate with the Japanese government to enhance cybersecurity resilience, recognizing the growing "threat landscape" in cyberspace.

Furthermore, Microsoft Research Asia will establish a new lab in Tokyo, allocating ¥1.5 billion JPY ($9.9 million USD) for research projects in partnership with leading universities. 

The opening ceremony of the sixth Microsoft AI Co-Innovation Lab worldwide at the Kobe Commerce, Industry, and Trade Center. October 11, 2023. (©Sankei by Akari Fukui)

Japan's AI Leadership

Amid increasing demand for large language models like ChatGPT, governments worldwide are emphasizing data sovereignty and domestic AI development. Japan is making strides in AI development, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry launching programs to support domestic initiatives. Its restrictions on data transfers to overseas centers led AWS and Google to invest more in Japanese data centers.

Smith commended Japan's leadership role in AI development and expressed hopes for coordinated efforts among economies to establish AI regulations. 


He also emphasized the alignment of Microsoft's Japanese investment with government priorities. "It fits very closely with what we see in terms of the role of the government itself," he commented.


Author: Daniel Manning