Island with a large concentration of chipmakers wants to step up tempo of development

Raghuvir Srinivasan

Recently in Fukuoka

For information technology companies and professionals fighting it out in the competitive American and European markets, there's a new market opening up. The Japanese island of Kyushu, specifically its largest city, Fukuoka, is keen on attracting software companies and talent to service its growing needs in the sector.

Kyushu has a large concentration of semiconductor producing companies and is now seeking to build on that to develop the technology sector. And the island is looking to nowhere other than south India for its needs of human resources.

`Good resource base'

"Looking at India, especially the southern part, we see that you have a world class IT industry and you also have a very good educational system to produce highly qualified engineers in this field. Therefore, we believe that southern India can provide the required number of IT engineers to Kyushu companies in this industry," said Mr Junji Shibata, Assistant Director, Investment and Trade Division, Municipal Government of Fukuoka City.

He was talking to a group of three journalists from India, South Korea and China respectively at the Fukuoka City Hall.

The City Hall is the equivalent of the State Government Secretariat in India and Mr Shibata is in charge of developing business relations with India.

"Although we have many universities here, we cannot match the speed of development of the technology industry, specifically semiconductors. We require a large number of human resource talent which Japanese universities will not be able to supply", he said.

It is understood that a separate organisation comprising representatives from industry, academia and the government is being set up in Kyushu exclusively to promote exchange and contacts in the technology sector.

Talks on engagement

Last week, representatives of 14 Indian IT companies were in Fukuoka to discuss details of further engagement.

Cognizant Technology Solutions, Covansys, Congruent Solutions, Hexaware Technologies, Teledata Informatics and Plexion Technologies were some of those represented in this meeting.

Pact signed

Recently, Kyushu University, Fukuoka and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, signed an agreement to promote exchange of experts and learn from each other's skills in information technology.

Kyushu island is on the south-west edge of Japan and compared to other regions of the country operates independently from the economic sphere of Tokyo.

It has a GDP of a little over $400 billion, about a tenth of Japan's, and has developed industries in automobiles, where its output is estimated to cross a million cars this year; semiconductors, steel and chemicals.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 6, 2006)
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