(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s mobile unit has declared it’s joining a global race to build a version of ChatGPT, sending a clutch of AI-related Japanese companies surging Thursday.

Wireless unit SoftBank Corp. set up a new entity in March, choosing about 1,000 people to develop a Japanese-language version of OpenAI Inc.’s artificial-intelligence chat technology, Chief Executive Officer Junichi Miyakawa said during an earnings briefing Wednesday. He didn’t elaborate on the project’s goals or progress so far. 

Billionaire founder Masayoshi Son, who for years touted AI as a revolutionary force in the way we use technology, gathered a group of engineers recently and spoke about ChatGPT’s possibilities, according to Miyakawa. He didn’t give details. Local software firms from Appier Group Inc. to ExaWizards Inc. jumped more than 2% in early trading in Tokyo.

“We are dead positive on ChatGPT,” Miyakawa said. “Most of our meetings these days touch on topics related to Chat GPT. The ChatGPT party has started.”

SoftBank follows a plethora of US and Chinese corporations and startups vying to roll out their own conversational bots. About 40%-owned by its parent, SoftBank’s telecom unit is Japan’s third-biggest mobile operator and spans payments, search engine operator Yahoo Japan Corp. and messaging app Line Corp.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday ordered a new AI panel to look into the economic potential of the technology and how to deal with its risks. He added that he’d seek to take a lead on international rule-making around AI as chair of the Group of Seven democracies. The G-7 summit is set to be held in Hiroshima from May 19. 

--With assistance from Kurt Schussler, Yuki Hagiwara and Isabel Reynolds.

(Updates with comments from prime minister in final paragraph.)

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.