OpenAI expands to Japan with Tokyo office and GPT-4 model optimized for the Japanese language | TechCrunch

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OpenAI is expanding to Japan, announcing today a new Tokyo hub and plans for a GPT-4 model optimized specifically for the Japanese language.

The ChatGPT-maker opened its first international office in London last year, followed by its inaugural European Union (EU) office in Dublin a few months later. Tokyo will represent OpenAI’s first office in Asia and fourth globally (including its San Francisco HQ), with CEO Sam Altman highlighting Japan’s “rich history of people and technology coming together to do more” among its reasons for setting up a formal presence in the region.

OpenAI’s global expansion efforts so far have been fairly strategic, insofar as the U.K. is a major hub for AI talent while the EU is currently driving the AI regulatory agenda. Japan, meanwhile, is also positioned prominently in the AI revolution, most recently as the G7 chair and President of the G7’s Hiroshima AI Process, an initiative centered around AI governance and pushing for safe and trustworthy AI.

Its choice on who will head up its new Japanese business is also notable. OpenAI Japan will be led by Tadao Nagasaki, who joins the company from Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he headed up Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary in the region for the past 12 years — so it’s clear that OpenAI is really targeting the enterprise segment with this latest expansion.


As President of OpenAI Japan, Nagasaki will be tasked with building a local team on the ground and double down on OpenAI’s recent growth in Japan which has seen it secure customers including Daikin, Rakuten, and Toyota which are using ChatGPT’s enterprise-focused incarnation which sports additional privacy, data analysis, and customization options on top of the standard consumer-grade ChatGPT.

OpenAI says ChatGPT is also already being used by local governments to “improve the efficiency of public services in Japan.”

GPT-4 customized for Japanese

GPT-4 customized for Japanese Image Credits: OpenAI

While ChatGPT has long been conversant in multiple languages, including Japanese, optimizing the latest version of the underlying GPT large language model (LLM) for Japanese will give it enhanced understanding of the nuances within the Japanese language, including cultural comprehension which should make it more effective particularly in business settings such as customer service and content creation. OpenAI also says that the custom model comes with improved performance, which means it should perform faster and be more cost effective than its predecessor.

For now, OpenAI is giving early access to the GPT-4 custom model to some local businesses, with access gradually opened up via the OpenAI API “in the coming months.”


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