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Semiconductors: New TSMC Plant in Kumamoto Spotlights Taiwan University's Training of Students in the Field

A Taiwanese university is training Japanese and other students in the field as TSMC, the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductors, brings jobs to Japan.



This general view shows the semiconductor plant by Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (JASM), a subsidiary of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), in Kikuyo town, Kumamoto prefecture, southwestern Japan on February 24, 2024. (© Kyodo)

Semiconductors have been called "the staple of industry." So, it is notable that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd chose Kumamoto Prefecture (Kyushu) for its new semiconductor fabrication plant. Operated by Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (JASM), a subsidiary of TSMC, the Kumamoto FAB just opened its doors on February 24. 

TSMC is the world's largest dedicated manufacturer of semiconductors. Committed to promoting economic integration between Japan and Taiwan, it began establishing its growing presence in Kumamoto Prefecture in 2022. In doing so, the Taiwanese company is also revitalizing Kumamoto Prefecture's economy.

Taiwan's Kainan University in Taoyuan, Taiwan. (Photo provided)

Carrying the Initiative Into Education

This development is also impacting the world of education. Taiwan, for its part, has begun to focus on nurturing semiconductor-savvy human resources. It wants to foster individuals who can apply their new skills in Japan and Taiwan and throughout the entire world. 

There are several Taiwanese universities developing talent for the chipmaking industry. Among those openly welcoming Japanese students is Kainan University in Taoyuan City, northwestern Taiwan.

Established in 1990, Kainan University is a private institution with five schools. They are the School of Commerce, School of Transportation and Tourism, School of Informatics, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and School of Healthcare Management. Within those, it also has a total of 21 departments. 

Since it is located near Taoyuan International Airport, the Department of Air Transportation within the School of Transportation and Tourism is well known. The university emphasizes international exchanges and has sister school arrangements with universities in 21 countries. Those include Japan, South Korea, the United States and Vietnam. 

In fact, it has 50 sister universities in Japan alone, including the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. There are around 4,400 students enrolled at the university, of whom 164 are Japanese. That is the highest number at any university in Taiwan. 

TSMC logo in November 2023, Hsinchu City, Taiwan (© Kyodo)

Research and Instruction on Semiconductors

Dr Pearl Lin is the president of Kainan University. She explains that over the last several years the university has been working hard to expand semiconductor-related instruction. The university hires experts with actual work experience in the industry to lead the classes. They use their background to teach specialized job knowledge as well as know-how on how to manage semiconductor sector-related enterprises. 

Beyond the practical focus, the university also emphasizes research in the semiconductor field. It is actively concerned with issues such as in what direction the chipmaking industry will likely develop in the future. 


Their goal is not only to train engineers, however. It also wants to nurture human resources who will be capable of leading and managing semiconductor businesses. Lin says that the university eventually intends to establish a separate semiconductor-related school.

A view of the campus of TSMC's first Kumamoto factory in Kikuyo Town. February 12, 2024 (© Kyodo)

TSMC's New Kumamoto FAB

TSMC has already constructed its first semiconductor FAB in Japan. It is situated in the town of Kikuyo in Kumamoto. Having opened its doors on February 24, the new plant expects to be marketing its chips by the end of 2024. 

Furthermore, on February 6 the company announced that it will build a second FAB within the same prefecture. The second plant is expected to start production in 2027. 

Reports that TSMC will be offering new university graduates starting monthly pay roughly ¥70,000 JPY ($465 USD) higher than local businesses caused quite a media stir. Although currently most of its applicants are from Taiwan, the company expects this attraction to help expand its recruitment of Japanese nationals. 

Chen Wenjia, director of the Research Center for National and Regional Development at Kainan University, commented. "Although the semiconductor industry will grow tremendously in the days to come, it has not kept up in terms of preparing human resources," said Chen.

He adds, "By accepting not only semiconductor professionals but also Japanese exchange students, we hope that we will be able to create many bridges between Japan and Taiwan in the future." 


(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: Akio Yaita, Taipei Bureau Chief, The Sankei Shimbun


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