Microsoft to invest $2.9 billion in Japan’s AI sector

The move represents the company’s largest investment in 46 years of operations in the country.

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Microsoft announced a substantial investment of $2.9 billion over two years to bolster its cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan, marking its largest investment since its operations began 46 years ago. The investment will expand data centres and cloud computing assets and support the development of AI applications and workloads. The move underscores a broader trend among major tech firms, including Amazon and Google, to ramp up overseas expansions in response to the growing demand for AI technologies following the launch of ChatGPT in late 2022.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed interest in deepening collaboration with the United States in next-generation computer chips during a business roundtable on Critical and Emerging Technologies hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington. Microsoft announced the investment before Kishida’s upcoming summit with US President Joe Biden.

Part of Microsoft’s investment will focus on skilling three million people in AI-related fields, demonstrating a commitment to developing talent and fostering innovation in Japan’s technology sector. Additionally, Microsoft plans to establish a new Microsoft Research Asia lab in Tokyo, further enhancing regional research and development capabilities. This initiative aligns with the company’s strategy to strengthen its presence and competitiveness in the global cloud computing market.

Why does it matter?

The surge in investments by tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft highlights the critical role of cloud infrastructure in supporting AI advancements. For instance, Amazon’s cloud unit directs significant investments into regions like Mississippi and Saudi Arabia, while Google is constructing a major data centre near London. In the intensely competitive landscape of cloud computing, Microsoft’s Azure, Google Cloud (Alphabet), and Amazon Web Services (AWS) remain the top three players, driving innovation and shaping infrastructure expansion to meet evolving market demands and capitalise on the AI revolution.