• Kyodo

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Chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp. resumed production at a plant in Ibaraki Prefecture on Saturday, about a month after fire damaged the facility, sources close to the matter said.

Renesas, the world's leading supplier of microcontrollers used in vehicle power control units, had said it was aiming to restart the plant within a month of the March 19 fire as the world faces a semiconductor supply shortage.

The company has completed repairs and preparations in cleanrooms, which are crucial for semiconductor manufacturing, as part of work to restart production.

Renesas expects it will take about 100 days from the time of the incident to return to pre-fire shipment levels as it is taking time to procure some manufacturing devices to replace those lost in the fire.

Hidetoshi Shibata, president of Renesas, is scheduled to hold a news conference Monday to detail the status of the plant.

The automotive industry faces a global semiconductor crunch triggered by the increased demand for digital products that require the chips during the coronavirus pandemic.

Major automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. have slashed output around the world due to the shortage.

During a summit meeting on Friday in Washington, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden agreed Japan and the United States will "partner on sensitive supply chains, including on semiconductors, promoting and protecting the critical technologies that are essential to our security and prosperity," according to the joint statement.

In response to the global supply crunch, U.S. semiconductor giant Intel Corp. has said it will spend $20 billion to build new chip factories in Arizona.

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