SoftBank Announces an OpenAI Program for Japan

In a bid to decentralize AI innovation and cater to the Japanese market, SoftBank has launched SB Intuitions, a company dedicated to the development of Large Language Models (LLMs) and generative AI services specifically for the Japanese language.

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What is SoftBank?

SoftBank is a multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. It runs a range of services, from telecom to e-commerce, and has been a significant player in the tech industry for years. The company has a history of identifying and investing in key technology trends, with AI being one of them.

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What is SoftBank's OpenAI Program for Japan?

SoftBank’s OpenAI program, known as SB Intuitions, is a 100% SoftBank-owned initiative aimed at researching and developing LLMs and generative AI services for the Japanese language. The company plans to utilize data housed in Japan-based data centers, tapping into its extensive consumer and enterprise operations in the country.

Why does SoftBank Want to Build LLMs and Generative AI in Japanese?

SoftBank believes that generative AI will be a technology of incomparable importance, similar to how search engines, operating systems, and the cloud have been major milestones in internet engagement. However, most of the current generative AI models are developed based on English and Chinese datasets. SoftBank aims to create a generative AI based on the Japanese language dataset, making it more suited to Japanese business practice and culture.

Who is in Charge of this Grand Design?

Hironobu Tamba, a long-time SoftBank employee who has been running the company’s AI and IoT division, will lead the new business. The company has not disclosed the total investment in this initiative, but it has started with a paid-in capital sum of 150 million yen.

AITOOLMALL's Opinion: Still Efforts in Vain?

Despite SoftBank’s ambitious plans, the company’s track record with AI has been hit-and-miss. While it has invested heavily in AI, with an estimated $140 billion spent on some 400 investments, it has struggled to make a significant impact in the current wave of AI developments. It remains to be seen whether this new initiative will yield the desired results.


SoftBank’s launch of SB Intuitions is a bold move to bring AI innovation to Japan and cater to its unique language and cultural nuances. While the company’s past AI endeavors have had mixed results, this new initiative represents a significant investment in the future of AI and the Japanese market.

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