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Sakura Internet Eyes AI Cloud Expansion in Southeast Asia to Mitigate Japan’s Digital Deficit

Plans to establish a regional base by March 2025, addressing dependency on Western IT services
s 3778.TSE Mid and Small Cap 2000 Tech 350
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Japanese cloud service provider Sakura Internet is gearing up to expand its AI computing power offerings to customers in Southeast Asia. This move aligns with Tokyo’s broader strategy to enhance cooperation on artificial intelligence with emerging economies, collectively known as the “Global South.”

Founder and CEO Kunihiro Tanaka shared with Nikkei Asia that the company aims to establish a regional base by the end of the current fiscal year, which concludes in March 2025. Although the exact location remains undecided, Vietnam and Malaysia are among the top considerations. Sakura Internet is coordinating with Sojitz, a major Japanese trading house and its largest shareholder, to finalize these plans.

Tanaka highlighted the region’s apprehensions about over-reliance on global data center giants like Amazon Web Services. To address these concerns, Sakura plans to deploy “regions,” or dedicated sets of data centers, within Southeast Asia, though specific details are still under wraps. Initially, services will be supported by Sakura’s existing data centers in Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido.

This expansion is part of a broader effort to reduce Japan’s “digital deficit,” where domestic companies heavily rely on Western IT services. By exporting Japanese cloud services, Sakura aims to retain more value within the local economy, similar to how the automotive industry adds value through manufacturing.

The initiative coincides with Japan’s governmental push to foster AI collaboration with Southeast Asian nations. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to unveil a framework for this cooperation, focusing on developing AI models tailored to local cultures and customs. This move is seen as a counterbalance to the dominance of Western tech giants, which often embed Western biases in their AI services.

A Japanese lawmaker recently emphasized the need for a more open AI environment to avoid monopolization by American big tech companies. With no significant tech players of its own, Japan is positioning itself as a crucial connector between the Group of Seven (G7) and the Global South, fostering a more balanced and diverse AI ecosystem.



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