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Friday, September 16, 2011

Chips falling where they may

Across the street from the MOS Burger モスバーガー in T'aichung (Tái​zhōng) 台中 where Amber and I had dinner last night is a sporting goods store with one of those practice walls for rock climbing. Apparently, some kind of experiment was going on while we were eating, for one young man was having what looked like electrodes being taped to his arms, while his back was a tangle of wires. As he started his ascent up the wall, a couple of people on the ground were taking pictures and filming him as he made his way to the top. After coming down, the man in the white shirt in the photo above gave the climber some papers, which the latter looked over carefully before signing.

On a completely unrelated topic, it looks like Japan's loss will be Taiwan's gain, according to this Yomiuri Shimbun 読売新聞 article from today's Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売:


"Elpida Memory, Inc. エルピーダメモリ株式会社 announced Thursday it would transfer up to 40 percent of the production capacity at its Hiroshima 広島 plant to its subsidiary in Taiwan, in response to the extremely strong yen and rapid deterioration of the market.

Elpida, the world's third-largest manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, said it was considering incrementally transferring the production capacity at its plant in Higashi-Hiroshima 東広島, Hiroshima Prefecture 広島県, to its cost-competitive subsidiary Rexchip Electronics Corp. 瑞晶電子 in Taiwan.

The Hiroshima plant will focus on products for smartphones.

Elpida said it would maintain employment by transferring affected workers within the Elpida group.

Moves to transfer production and other operation bases overseas are accelerating among manufacturers, whose business environment is deteriorating due to the high appreciation of the yen.

Panasonic Corp. パナソニック株式会社 plans to transfer part of its parts procurement and distribution functions to Singapore in the first half of fiscal 2012, sources said Thursday.

The sources said Panasonic will transfer about 20 of the 120 employees of its procurement and distribution headquarters in Ōsaka 大阪 to Singapore. A base in Singapore will serve as a center for parts procurement abroad.

Panasonic also will reduce the number of companies from which it procures parts to about 10,000, down 40 percent from the current level of about 18,000, in fiscal 2012. The company aims to cut annual costs by about 60 billion yen ($780 million) through a central purchasing system, the sources said."

The Japan Times has a Kyōdō News 共同通信社 article on the same story, apparently written at an earlier point in time, as it mentions that Elpida is only considering the shift in production to Taiwan:


"Elpida Memory Inc., Japan's only manufacturer of dynamic random-access memory chips used in computers and game systems, said Thursday it may move part of its manufacturing capacity offshore to counter the strong yen and the worsening business environment for such components.

The world's third-largest DRAM maker plans to gradually transfer some of its manufacturing duties from its factory in Hiroshima to a Taiwanese unit to improve its cost structure and make it more competitive with South Korean rivals at a time when a strong yen is hurting earnings.

It plans to expand manufacturing facilities at its Taiwanese subsidiary, Rexchip Electronics Corp., and consolidate the manufacture of general-purpose products for personal computers.

Elpida will refurbish its Hiroshima plant in Higashihiroshima with 30-nanometer processing lines to make high-end products, such as those for smartphones.

There is a chance that, over time, this move may cause Taiwan's output to eclipse Japan's, it said. The company plans to retain jobs at its Hiroshima plant by shifting workers within the group.

Elpida loses roughly ¥3 billion ($39 million) in operating profit annually for every ¥1 rise against the dollar.

It said in a statement that it faces an 'extremely harsh business environment,' partly because DRAM prices have fallen by about one-third from a year earlier."
Meanwhile, the Times also has a Kyōdō story in its Friday edition about the gift of a pair of red-crowned cranes 丹頂『タンチョウ』from Japan to Taiwan:


"A pair of red-crowned cranes on loan from Japan have arrived in Taiwan, where they will make their public debut on Oct. 30.

The species, a designated special natural treasure in Japan, is a symbol of longevity and conjugal love.

Taiwan asked the city of Kushiro 釧路市, Hokkaidō 北海道, in 2009 to lease some of the birds.

After assessing the request, the prefectural government and the city decided to lease a pair of the cranes free of charge for an indefinite period as part of an academic exchange to see whether the birds can breed in an environment with different food and climate, Kushiro officials said.

Taiwan has some experience with the species. A red-crowned crane wounded by gunfire was found in the northern city of Hsinchu (Xīn​zhú​shì) 新竹市 in September 2004."

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