Microsoft in Japan: $2.9bn Investment to Boost AI & Cloud

Microsoft has announced it is investing US$2.9bn over the next two years to increase its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in Japan

Microsoft continues its pledge to ramp up global AI investments, offering AI as an opportunity to improve enterprise skill sets and elevate business innovation.

With this in mind, over the next two years, Microsoft is investing in Japan to increase hyperscale cloud computing and AI opportunities. 

The company aims to do this by expanding its existing digital skills programmes with the goal of providing AI skills to more than three million people over the next three years. This follows a recent similar commitment to teach millions in India about AI by 2025.

Microsoft also plans to open its first Microsoft Research Asia lab and states it seeks to deepen its cybersecurity collaborations with the government of Japan.

Upskilling remains a priority 

Investments of this scale are designed to support Japan in tackling deflation and stimulating the economy by expanding infrastructure, skilled talent and security needed to accelerate the country’s digital transformation and AI adoption.

The billion-dollar commitment is Microsoft’s largest investment into Japan in the 46 years it has been present in the country. With this financial boost, Microsoft will be able to provide more advanced computing resources in Japan, including the latest graphics processing units (GPUs) to speed up AI workloads.

“We are honoured to contribute to Japan and its future with our largest investment to date, technology and knowledge,” says Miki Tsusaka, President of Microsoft Japan. “In collaboration with our partners, Microsoft Japan is fully committed to supporting the people and organisations of Japan to solve social problems and achieve more.” 

Microsoft is also investing in Japanese workforces by training three million people in order to expand the country’s AI capabilities. Over the next three years, the tech giant will deliver programmes to provide greater skills in building and working with AI technologies.

The programmes will be business-focused, but also aims to provide dedicated training for women looking to participate in AI work. Part of this will see Microsoft expanding its Code Without Barriers programme to Japan, in addition to offering free and widely accessible content on AI, cybersecurity and digital skills in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). 

Microsoft has committed itself to similar training programmes around the world in recent months to advance the social benefits of AI through businesses and governments. Just this week (April 2024), the company announced a dedicated AI hub to advance state-of-the-art AI.

The new AI hub in London aims to drive pioneering work to advance language models and create world-class tooling for foundation models. It will continue to collaborate closely with Microsoft’s AI teams and OpenAI.

Bolstering national infrastructure

With its continued commitment to responsible AI use, Microsoft will offer support to businesses in Japan seeking to develop AI policies, including data management and security.

Collaborating with Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat seeks to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity defences further and ensure greater resilience for government and businesses.

Under Japan’s updated National Security Strategy, Microsoft will be building on its ability to protect thousands of businesses by providing its expertise and advanced cloud and AI-driven security services. It will tackle cybersecurity threats via information sharing, talent development and technology solutions.

“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,” says Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

As part of these efforts, Microsoft has also opened its first Microsoft Research Asia lab in Tokyo as it seeks to extend its research leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. The new lab will focus on areas such as embodied AI and robotics, societal AI and wellbeing and scientific discovery.

“The impact that AI is poised to create over the coming years has the potential to generate unprecedented societal benefit for the entire world," says Kevin Scott, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of AI at Microsoft. "The steps we are taking today to empower Japanese citizens through AI technologies and programmes - 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.” 

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