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19 Jun 2023

Shohei Nomoto,
Junya Hisanaga

Japan-made semiconductors skirt sanctions to enter Russia through third countries, says new investigation

[Japan-made semiconductors skirt sanctions to enter Russia] 19 June 2023

Semiconductors made by Japanese manufacturers are still entering Russia, even after its invasion of Ukraine, according to an investigation by Nikkei. The majority of transactions go through third countries, such as China, meaning Japanese laws that regulate direct exports cannot stop the flow of chips. Additional measures are needed to stop the indirect flow of goods and make sanctions more effective.

In March 2022, Japan aligned with U.S. sanctions and restricted the export of domestically produced semiconductors. Although the restrictions were implemented in stages according to product performance and other factors, "general semiconductors (were) subject to the regulations from the beginning," said an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Nikkei obtained Russian customs data from the Indian research company Export Genius and examined import records from Feb. 24, 2022, to March 31, 2023. An analysis of transactions worth $50,000 or more showed that there were at least 89 transactions of semiconductors that involved Japanese manufacturers. The transactions included at least 2 million units and were worth a total of about $11 million. China, including Hong Kong, accounted for over 70% of shipments, followed by South Korea and Turkey.