OpenAI Sets Its Sights on Japan

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.15 - 2024 11:17 AM CET

Photo: Iryna Imago /
Photo: Iryna Imago /
As it opens its first Asian office, OpenAI sets its sights on Japan.

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OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence startup, has officially expanded its global footprint by opening its first office in Asia, located in Tokyo, Japan.

According to Reuters, this strategic move aims to foster long-term partnerships within the country, leveraging local business opportunities and research collaborations.

Strategic Expansion

"This is just the first step in what I hope will be a long-term partnership with the people of Japan, government leaders, businesses, and research institutions," Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, stated in a video message.

The Tokyo office is another milestone for OpenAI, following the successful launches of other international offices in London and Dublin.

Japan views artificial intelligence as a crucial element in competing with regional powers like China, accelerating the transition to digital services, and addressing labor shortages. The country is increasingly investing in AI technology despite being considered somewhat behind in the tech race.

Major local companies such as SoftBank and NTT are stepping up investments in large language models, indicating a growing commitment to AI development.

OpenAI's Business Prospects in Japan

Brad Lightcap, Chief Operating Officer of OpenAI, revealed to reporters in Tokyo that there is already a significant backlog of demand in Japan.

He expressed optimism about the potential contributions from the region, "We expect a meaningful contribution from Japan over time," though specific details were not disclosed.

OpenAI has tailored its offerings to the Japanese market with a custom model optimized for the Japanese language.

Tadao Nagasaki, former president of Amazon Web Services in Japan, has been appointed to lead OpenAI’s efforts in the country. This local leadership is expected to drive the startup's growth and integration into the Japanese tech ecosystem.

Among OpenAI's notable customers in Japan are leading companies such as Toyota Motor, Daikin Industries, and various local governments.

Microsoft's Supportive Investments

In conjunction with OpenAI’s expansion, Microsoft announced last week that it would be investing $2.9 billion over the next two years to enhance cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan.

This investment is part of a broader global initiative by U.S. tech giants to deepen technological advancements and market presence in critical regions.

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