Microsoft pumps $2.9 billion into AI and cloud infrastructure in Japan

The commitment is Microsoft’s single largest investment in its 46-year history in Japan, and is designed to bolster its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in the country.

Andrew Wooden

April 10, 2024

2 Min Read

Microsoft will also expand its digital skilling programs with the goal of providing AI skills to 3 million people in the region over the next three years, open its first Microsoft Research Asia lab in Japan, and ‘deepen its cybersecurity collaboration’ with the Government.

This will enable Microsoft to provide more advanced computing resources in Japan, including the latest GPUs for speeding up AI workloads, we’re told. The investment is tied to the Generative AI Accelerator Challenge (GENIAC), a program led by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry which ‘helps innovative startups and established enterprises develop foundation models as a core technology of generative AI in Japan.’

The new Microsoft Research Asia lab in Tokyo will focus on embodied AI and robotics, societal AI and wellbeing, and scientific discovery, and the firm will collaborate with Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat to strengthen ‘cybersecurity resilience’ for the government and businesses.

“The impact that AI is poised to create over the coming years has the potential to generate unprecedented societal benefit for the entire world,” said Kevin Scott, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of AI, Microsoft. “The steps we are taking today to empower Japanese citizens through AI technologies and programs—whether job training and skilling, improvements to infrastructure capacity, or new research investments—will in the aggregate help accelerate this process of beneficial innovation. We’re particularly excited for Microsoft Research’s global footprint to further expand into Japan, extending the ability for our world-class research efforts to both contribute to and benefit from local diversity of thought and talent.”

Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan added: “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. We appreciate Microsoft’s announcement of its new investment in Japan. Microsoft has made significant contributions to the social implementation of generative AI in Japan through various initiatives, and we look forward to further collaboration. We also look forward to deepening our cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.”

Microsoft has been splashing the cash in pursuit of AI and cloud development in other regions as well. Earlier this week, it announced a new AI hub in London, and said it plans to ‘make a significant, long-term investment in the region.’

Microsoft AI London will be focussed on developing language models and their supporting infrastructure, tooling for foundation models, and work with AI teams across the broader Microsoft mothership and partners such as OpenAI, and will be led by led by Jordan Hoffmann, which the announcement described as an ‘AI pioneer’ who previously worked at Inflection and DeepMind.

And late last year it pledged a A$5 billion investment in Australia to go towards expanding its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in the country over the next two years, and increasing its number of data centres from 20 to 29 sites in the country.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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