OpenAI inaugurates its office in Tokyo

The decision to open an office in Japan was influenced by the country’s interest in AI development to compete with China, accelerate digital services, and address labour shortages.

Logo of OpenAI

OpenAI, supported by Microsoft, has set its sights on Japan, inaugurating its first Asia office in Tokyo. CEO Sam Altman expressed enthusiasm for a long-term collaboration with Japan, envisioning partnerships with government bodies, businesses, and research institutions. With the success of its ChatGPT AI chatbot, OpenAI seeks to expand its revenue streams globally.

Altman and COO Brad Lightcap have been actively engaging Fortune 500 executives in the US and UK, signalling a concerted effort to attract business. Last year’s meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida laid the groundwork for OpenAI’s expansion into Japan, joining its offices in London and Dublin. Japan, aiming to bolster its competitiveness against China, sees AI as pivotal in its digital transformation and addressing labour shortages.

OpenAI is strategically positioned with a tailored model for the Japanese language, led by Tadao Nagasaki, former president of Amazon Web Services in Japan. Despite Japan’s reputation as a technology follower, companies like SoftBank and NTT are investing in large language models. Notable Japanese clients of OpenAI include Toyota Motor, Daikin Industries, and local government entities.

The move aligns with Microsoft’s recent commitment of $2.9 billion over two years to bolster cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan. The investment surge from US tech giants underscores Japan’s growing importance in the global AI landscape and its alignment to maintain a solid place in the race for cutting-edge technology development.