Industry minister inspects cutting-edge chip plant site

Japan's industry minister has visited the construction site of a cutting-edge semiconductor plant in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido. State-backed chipmaker Rapidus is building the pilot facility.

Rapidus President Koike Atsuyoshi briefed minister Saito Ken on the progress. He said the test-production line building is about 30 percent complete.

Construction will likely finish by around January next year, with the test line in operation as early as April.

Advanced lithography machines and other equipment will be installed later this year.

Industry Minister Saito said: "Our ministry is aware that this fiscal year is crucial for Rapidus. We will do our utmost to make this project successful."

Rapidus was formed by a group of leading Japanese firms to domestically produce advanced chips for autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.

The government has also provided funding for the company.