The developer of the widely used artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT said Monday it has opened an office in Tokyo, its first in Asia, as part of efforts to respond to the popularity of the service in Japan.

"This is just the first step in what I hope would be a long-term partnership with the people of Japan, government leaders, businesses, and research institutions," OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a video message delivered at a press conference in Tokyo.

It is the third overseas office for the U.S.-based OpenAI after Britain and Ireland, according to the company.

For the Japanese market, the company has started to offer a custom model of the chatbot specifically optimized for the Japanese language, which translates and summarizes Japanese text at a faster speed than the existing model, it said.

The announcement came after Altman met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo in April last year, in which the top executive expressed his intent to set up an office in Japan.

"We chose Tokyo as our first Asian office for its global leadership in technology, culture of service, and a community that embraces innovation," the company said in its press release.

Japan is one of its major markets, with over 2 million people using the company's chatbot, Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap told the press conference in Tokyo.

Brad Lightcap, chief operating officer of OpenAI, the developer of generative artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, holds a press conference in Tokyo on April 15, 2024, after the San Francisco-based company launched its first Asian base in Tokyo. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The Japanese government has been accelerating its efforts to utilize technology to boost its economy while also trying to play a leading role in its rule-making.

Since its release in November 2022, ChatGPT has sparked a global generative AI boom with its ability to respond to questions in a human-like way based on massive data it has absorbed.

The company's technology is already used in some major Japanese firms such as online retail giant Rakuten Group Inc., air-conditioner maker Daikin Industries Ltd. and a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp., according to OpenAI.

OpenAI, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 2015 by Altman and Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, among others.

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