President Roma discusses the power semiconductors industry in Japan as well as the power industry in China

President Roma discusses the power semiconductors industry in Japan as well as the power industry in China

Pure electric vehicle energy efficiency is determined by “power semiconductors” (EVs). Japanese companies’ presence in the semiconductor industry is waning, but they have a 30% global share in power semiconductors. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun interviewed ROHM’s president, Ko Matsumoto, about countermeasures against fierce competition.

Japanese companies excel in power semiconductors.

Matsumoto: Semiconductor microfabrication technology has been commercialized. Power semiconductor material development requires chemistry and other knowledge. Japanese companies lead in developing new electrically resistant materials. Our company makes wafers and power peripherals. Consistent production ensures quality management and stable supply.

How is production growth and R&D competition?

Since 2021, decarbonization and pure electric vehicle trends have risen. Silicon Carbide (SiC), a next-generation material that reduces power loss, is in high demand. Investment competition focuses on American and European manufacturers.

China is catching up with this development at an alarming rate. (China) opened factories using large-diameter, high-efficiency wafers. Our company has been researching silicon carbide materials with Kyoto University for more than 20 years and has related technologies, but if we don’t lead, the situation will reverse.

How do winners and losers differ?

Matsumoto: In a rapidly expanding market, market share as a source of popularity is very important. Automakers sift through semiconductors years before releasing new cars. The supply system must be established by 2020. Our company will open a new factory in Fukuoka Prefecture in 2022, aiming for a 30% world share in silicon carbide power semiconductors by 2025. (as of March 2026).

Reporter: How to overcome the difficulties brought about by the Sino-US semiconductor dominance dispute?

Matsumoto: Wafer pre-processing is impossible without US-made equipment. If China and the US continue to clash, Japanese semiconductors made with American equipment won’t be able to be exported to China. Our company is expanding into Europe, where demand for industrial semiconductors is high.

Can Japanese semiconductors recover?

Matsumoto: China and Taiwan’s policies have boosted the number of semiconductor engineers. Japan’s semiconductor industry declined sharply after the 1990s, and employment in the semiconductor industry became less attractive to students. Kyushu, where more related factories are opening, has a talent shortage. Japan needs to start from talent training and re-examine the semiconductor industry.

Nitta Eisaku of Nihon Keizai Shimbun

Matsumoto: After graduating from Kyushu Institute of Technology in 1985 (Showa 60), he joined ROHM to work. Process developer. When Thailand flooded in 2011, the factory switched to Philippines production. 2013: Director. He’s been there since May 2020. This year, 61.

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