Toshiba appears to have been the victim of industrial espionage

Japan vows to fight industrial espionage

Japan has vowed to fight industrial espionage after reports of leaks from local companies to rivals in other countries.

Several Japanese media outlets have reported that police had arrested a former engineer at a Toshiba affiliate on suspicion of improperly providing technical data to South Korea's SK Hynix.

The Nikkei newspaper also reported today that police had arrested an unspecified number of people in Yokohama and Aichi in 2012 for alleged leaks of industrial secrets to Chinese companies.

"Safeguarding Japan's cutting-edge technology and preventing leaks are extremely important," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters today, though he declined to discuss specific cases. "The government as a whole will respond to ensure that such a thing doesn't occur again."

The media reports said Tokyo police are probing the alleged leak of technology related to Toshiba's flagship NAND memory chips. A Toshiba spokesman said the company could not comment on the matter while it is the subject of a police investigation.

Tokyo police also declined to comment. A Hynix spokesman said the company was checking the report and had no further comment.

NAND memory chips, used to store data in smartphones and tablets, are a key source of profit for Toshiba, whose key competitors in the business include South Korea's Samsung Electronics and US chipmaker SanDisk.

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