Jan 31, 2024

Factbox: The Japanese chipmaking equipment manufacturers navigating export curbs

TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Japan has seen its share of the semiconductor market fall from 50% in the late 1980s to about 10% but still hosts some of the most advanced chipmaking equipment manufacturers, making it relevant to U.S. attempts to curb technology exports to China.

The United States in October imposed restrictions on shipments of chipmaking tools to China to slow advances in its chip industry and ultimately its military, and has been seeking the cooperation of major chipmaking peers Netherlands and Japan.

On Friday, Japan said it would restrict exports of 23 types of chipmaking gear, though without specifying any country. read more

Equipment subject to the curbs includes tools for cleaning and forming layers on the surface of silicon wafers, as well as equipment used in production based on cutting-edge technology known as extreme ultraviolet lithography.

Here are some of Japan's leading manufacturers of tools used to make semiconductors.


Tokyo Electron is the world's third-largest supplier of semiconductor manufacturing tools after Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O) of the United States and ASML Holdings NV (ASML.AS) of the Netherlands. It also makes flat panel display-making gear.

The firm in November slashed its sales forecast for the year to March 2023 by 250 billion yen ($1.88 billion), or 10.6%, due in part to tightening U.S. export curbs to China, though it later raised its revenue outlook by 70 billion yen.

In October-December, its chip equipment sales in China fell 22.3% from a year earlier to 102.7 billion yen, accounting for 22.4% of its total chip equipment sales in the quarter.

"We will respond appropriately after verifying the contents of the curbs," a spokesperson said.


Advantest is a chip-testing equipment maker, in competition with U.S.-based Teradyne Inc (TER.O).

China became the largest market for Advantest in October-December, surpassing South Korea and Taiwan, with the country accounting for 32.9% of global sales in the quarter.

"We see little risk of U.S. export restrictions on China directly preventing us from selling our testers," an Advantest executive said in January.

"However, we could potentially be indirectly impacted as those restrictions put a halt to supplies of other companies' production equipment, prompting our customers to revisit their business plans," the executive said.

On Friday, a company spokesperson said the firm would conduct fair transactions in line with government policy.


Screen is the world's largest manufacturer of equipment used to clean silicon wafers.

The company expects shipments to China to make up 20% of chipmaking equipment sales of 375 billion yen for the year to March.

It has said sales to China could be affected by U.S. export curbs, but that any decline will likely be covered by higher demand from elsewhere.

"We will carefully examine the contents of the curbs and seek advice from the Trade Ministry," the company said.


Nikon produces deep ultraviolet lithography machines, the second-most advanced systems used to create the minute circuitry of chips after extreme ultraviolet machines.

The Tokyo-based maker of cameras, healthcare products and precision equipment earned about 28% of total sales in China for the year ended March 2022. About 40% of sales from its lithography machines business, which combines semiconductor lithography and flat panel display lithography equipment, is generated in China.

Chief Financial Officer Muneaki Tokunari told reporters at an earnings briefing on Feb. 9 that Nikon will be closely monitoring developments as the company exports a "certain amount" of products to China.

On Friday, the company said the new regulations may apply to two types of lithography devices it sells.

"We will continue to adhere to established rules and strive to achieve maximum results within them," a spokesperson said.


Lasertec is the world's only maker of semiconductor inspection equipment using extreme ultraviolet mask lithography technology.

More than 70% of the chip-measuring maker's revenue comes from major chipmakers Intel Corp (INTC.O), Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (2330.TW). Chinese sales account for less than 10% of its global sales.

Lasertec said export curbs will have "a limited, insignificant impact" on the company due to its small sales volume in China.

($1 = 132.9300 yen)

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