Microsoft Invests $2.9 Billion to Enhance Cloud, AI Infrastructure in Japan

Microsoft to open a new research lab in Tokyo and will support AI skills to 3 million Japanese citizens

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

April 15, 2024

2 Min Read
The word Microsoft held aloft in a white font next to the Microsoft logo on a black background
David Becker/Getty Images

Microsoft has pledged to build and improve cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan as part of a $2.9 billion investment.

The investment, Microsoft's largest ever in Japan, aims to expand the country’s computing capabilities while also upskilling the local workforce, advancing AI research and strengthening cybersecurity defenses.

The investment doubles Microsoft’s existing financial commitments to expand its AI and cloud infrastructure nationwide. 

Microsoft said the increased investment would expand Japan’s access to computing resources, including its latest GPUs for powering local AI workloads.

“Today’s announcement represents Microsoft’s most significant investment in Japan since we set roots here in 1978,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft vice chair and president. “These investments in digital infrastructure, AI skills, cybersecurity and AI research are essential ingredients for Japan to build a robust AI economy.”.

Part of the expansion will include the creation of a research lab in Tokyo.

The new lab will conduct research projects that “align with Japan’s socio-economic priorities” including how AI can impact well-being and AI and robotics.

To bolster Japan's workforce, Microsoft pledged to train over three million people in AI skills over the next three years. The company is committed to conducting skill programs to support local women, students and developers.

Related:Microsoft Launches London AI Hub Focused on Language Model Research

Microsoft will also provide $10 million in resource grants over five years to the University of Tokyo and the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence Research between Carnegie Mellon University and Keio University in Tokyo.

Microsoft will also work with Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat on improving the country’s cybersecurity resilience. The company will provide access to its AI security solutions to tackle cybersecurity threats.

The company announced the news as Microsoft president Smith met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during his state visit to the U.S.

“As economic activities in the digital space increase, it is important for the Japanese industry as a whole to work with global companies like Microsoft that are equipped with a set of digital infrastructure,” said Prime Minister Kishida. “Microsoft has made significant contributions to the social implementation of generative AI in Japan through various initiatives, and we look forward to further collaboration.”

Before expanding its efforts, Microsoft was already working with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on a project to help startups develop generative AI models.

Related:Japan Privatizes Chip Supplier in $6B Deal to Secure Supply Chain

The Generative AI Accelerator Challenge (GENIAC) provides startups with access to computing resources and grants. Among the startups receiving support include Sakana, founded by former Google AI researchers who are trying to build foundation models “based on nature-inspired intelligence” and data analytics platform developer Abjea.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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