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Interview

Japan's Murata says tech downturn ending with China's 5G investment

President says U.S.-China trade war will have 'no major impact'

Tsuneo Murata, president of Murata Manufacturing speaks to Nikkei Asian Review at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. (Photo by Yuki Kohara)

TOKYO -- The electronic components market is bottoming out, Murata Manufacturing President Tsuneo Murata said Wednesday, suggesting that the industry may be emerging from a yearlong slowdown. 

The Kyoto-based company is a major supplier of electronic components for smartphones and automobiles, and is a bellwether for the sector. With major customers including Apple, Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies, Murata has risen on the back of rapid growth of smartphones around the world.

"I feel that the market is bottoming out," for electronic components such as capacitors, Murata said in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review. Capacitors are used for smooth operations of electronic equipment such as TVs, smartphones and computers.

China's accelerated investment in fifth-generation mobile communications infrastructure is giving a lift to the electronics industry, he said.

"Investment in 5G infrastructure appears to be making steady headways," Murata said.

Many electronics companies have recently been faced with a sharp slowdown in the global economy and a buildup in inventories, and have been forced into production adjustment. But Murata stressed that the latest round of inventory adjustment is "likely to be a short one."

More than half of Murata's sales come from communications equipment, such as smartphones. By region, more than half of the sales come from Greater China, home to the world's largest market for smartphones and automobiles.

Murata is a relatively little known Japanese component-maker that yet dominates the market it operates in. Other such Japanese suppliers include TDK, Kyocera, Nidec and Rohm.

Many electronic-makers have been hit by the U.S.-China trade war and the U.S. decision to restrict supply of American technology to China. Murata acknowledged that the technology ban has affected its business, but not in a big way.

"The technology ban is affecting only a limited range of our products," Murata said. "There will be no major impact" on its shipments to China, he added.

Still, he remains cautious about the fallout of the trade war on the world's second largest economy. "My impression is that China's domestic economy is a little bit losing vigor," he said.

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