As semiconductors become increasingly important amid escalating geopolitical tensions and tech competition, Japan is betting on its "last chance" to join the ultra-advanced chip race with help from leading firms and academic bodies, including Toyota, Sony and the University of Tokyo.

Aiming to develop technologies and production bases for next-generation chips in the late 2020s, eight major companies have jointly invested to launch a new firm, named Rapidus, that is expected to play a central role in the mission, industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.

The eight companies — Toyota, Sony, NTT, SoftBank, Kioxia, Denso, NEC and MUFG Bank — invested a total of ¥7.3 billion to form Rapidus, which is chaired by Tetsuro Higashi, former president of chip equipment firm Tokyo Electron.