Govt. sets up panel to boost chip industry

Japanese government officials are worried that the country's semiconductor industry is falling behind its global competitors. The industry ministry is vowing to tackle the problem through a panel of experts.

Industry minister Kajiyama Hiroshi attended its inaugural meeting on Wednesday.

Members shared the view that Japan lags behind the United States and China in providing subsidies to chipmakers. They also pointed to the need for policies that improve supply chains.

The members agreed to help Japanese manufacturers conduct joint research with foreign competitors and build factories that make cutting-edge devices, such as chips for smartphones.

They will study promoting investment in semiconductors for automobiles to leverage the advantages of Japanese chipmakers.

Computer chips have been in short supply around the world, forcing automakers to cut back on production. A fire at a plant of major chipmaker Renesas Electronics north of Tokyo last week could result in even more bottlenecks.

The panel plans to draw up its proposals by May.