Japan's Elpida Memory Inc said it filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday with 448 billion yen ( about 5.55 billion U.S. dollars) in debt, the biggest bankruptcy filing by a Japanese manufacturer.
As Japan's sole maker of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips, Elpida was hurt by weak prices after a surge in demand for Apple Inc's iPad, which is much less reliant on DRAM chips than conventional PCs.
The manufacturer was also hobbled with heavy capital spending to keep pace with well-funded South Korean rivals Samsung Electronics Co, while a strong yen further dampened its global competitiveness.
Analysts say the filing raised concerns that the curtain could be lowered on Japan in the PC memory chip business that it once dominated.
But, speaking in a briefing, Japanese Trade Minister Yukio Edano said he hoped domestic DRAM production could be continued.
The company, formed more than a decade ago by the merger of several large Japanese chipmakers' struggling DRAM operations, is scrambling to meet deadlines in the next two months to repay 92 billion yen in bonds and loans.