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November 10, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

What lies behind the massive new investments in semiconductor capacity by Japanese manufacturers (CI No 1,055)? The consensus is that it is not inspired by the Ministry of International Trade & Industry, but by the fierce sibling rivalry between the likes of Toshiba Corp, NEC Corp, Hitachi Ltd et al, and there is a strong suspicion that the cash is there to invest largely as a direct result of the ineffable US-Japan Semiconductor Trade Agreement, which put an artificially high floor under memory chip prices and thereby made their manufacture hugely more profitable for the Japanese – so that it can be said that US chip users are directly financing a massive expansion of the Japanese industry that will ensure that it is not worthwhile US firms returning to the memory chip business; the Japanese investment seems to fly in the face of all logic since a downturn over the next couple of years seems almost inevitable, but Japanese manufacturers are forecasting enormously increased demand for memory from the motor industry and high-definition TV.

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