NEW DELHI: India and Japan will work together to introduce artificial intelligence and robotics in the defence sector, the next level of strategic cooperation between the two Asian partners. Kentaro Sonoura, Japan's state minister for foreign affairs and a close adviser to PM Shinzo Abe, told TOI in an exclusive chat, "You should expect to see increased bilateral cooperation between us to develop unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and robotics." The strategic sphere is where the bulk of India-Japan convergence lies. After the nuclear agreement was ratified by the Japanese parliament late 2017, Sonoura said India and Japan would be setting up a joint task force for commercial agreements by the end of January. With the legislation behind them, the Japanese minister said Tokyo was keen to get this going.
My visit to Japan has coincided with the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings. On August 6, 1945, the nuclear bomb dropped by the Enola Gay Boeing B-29 exploded, killing an estimated 140,000 people. Three days later, the U.S. dropped the second bomb by the Bockscar B-29 on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 75,000. On the occasion of the 72nd anniversary ceremony about 50,000 people, including representatives from 80 nations, gathered at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. During the occasion, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for global cooperation to end nuclear weapons.
Faced with the worst labor shortage in decades, Japanese service companies are finally turning to labor-saving technology, an investment that could lift the sector's woeful level of productivity and allow them to raise wages. While Japan's manufacturers are renowned for deploying advanced robotics, most domestic-focused services companies fell behind in information technology investment, put off by a stagnant economy, restrictive labor rules and a shrinking domestic market. But as the workforce declines and the nation ages, businesses in areas like nursing and retail have found it harder to attract and keep staff. As Partners Co. is among companies looking to software for a solution. It plans to spend about ¥300 million ($2.7 million) to install new technology at its 15 nursing homes in and around Tokyo to make life easier for staff and residents.
Japan aims to finalize on June 9 plans to allow package delivery by drone sometime from 2020 and the commercialization of self-driving trucks by 2022, as it scrambles to breathe new life into its corporate sector, sources told Reuters. Japan is also eyeing financial technology as a source of future growth, the sources said, but has so far lagged overseas firms that have adopted technology to transform processes such as payments, lending, asset management and investment banking. A separate document obtained by Reuters shows the government's annual growth strategy due on Friday will keep up policies Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced last year to narrow the wealth gap, improve working conditions and boost productivity. In a rare step, the strategy document, which does not usually touch on defense, has called for effective military defense in line with Japan's military alliance with the United States, against the backdrop of North Korea's missile program.
Hanover German Chancellor Angela Merkel has kicked off the world's biggest digital business fair in Hanover with a speech urging developers not to leave their fellow humans behind. At the opening ceremony for the CeBIT expo, Merkel appealed to tech firms to include the'millions of people who in some ways don't know what awaits them' in the digital revolution, adding that politicians could not achieve such inclusion without help from the industry. Merkel is set to peruse the latest trends at the trade fair in detail on Monday, when it opens to the public, together with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 'We cannot let a situation arise in which only certain people generate wealth,' Abe said on Sunday, reinforcing the theme of shared benefits. Merkel admitted that Europe was all too often lagging behind in digital technology.
When President Donald Trump was on the campaign trail, one of his biggest promises was to create American jobs, vowing to stop companies from making jobs abroad. But it may not be Trump who generates the greatest number of manufacturing jobs during his first months as president -- instead, it may be Japan. The country may create 700,000 jobs in the U.S., build a $7 billion factory and strengthen the American economy. The jobs could come from a Japanese investment plan Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to present Friday to Trump in Washington, D.C. "The investment will be by a Japanese consortium that will also include manufacturing equipment makers," an unidentified source told Reuters last week. Japan was expected to invest in both private and public funds and focus on developing U.S. infrastructure by way of high-speed railways in Texas, California and the northeastern U.S. The plan would also create closer ties between Japan and the U.S. by including global infrastructure investment, artificial intelligence research, and collaboration on topics like space exploration and cybersecurity, according to Reuters.
When Japan hosts the summer Olympics in 2020, prime minister Shinzo Abe is determined to make it an event to remember. And what better way, he claims, than to include robotic competitors to show off the world's technical achievements. Mr Abe made the comments during a tour of robotics factories in Tokyo and Saitama, where he also announced the creation of a taskforce to treble the size of the Japanese robotics industry. The industry could help revitalise the country's economy, and Mr Abe hopes to increase its market for machines to 2.4 trillion yen (£13.8 billion or $24 billion). 'In 2020, I would like to gather all of the world's robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills,' Mr Abe said.
The child of a refugee from Vietnam is striving to realize her dream of building a Japanese language school in the Southeast Asian country. "My dream is to do something that would serve as a bridge between Japan and Vietnam," said Doan Thy Trang, 27. To achieve that goal, she founded a consulting firm in Akashi, a city in Hyogo Prefecture facing the Seto Inland Sea, in January 2015. Trang explained that many business trainees from Vietnam she meets through her work have little difficulty communicating with Japanese in daily conversations but struggle with technical terms. "Vietnamese need a school that teaches them Japanese language used in workplaces," she said.
Kengo Kyogoku borrows about ¥122,000 ($1,035) per month in addition to a scholarship and a part-time job, because his mother can't afford to pay his college fees at the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set aside ¥7 billion in the budget on Dec. 22 to launch government scholarships in the year starting next April in an effort to make higher education affordable, according to documents from the education ministry and Finance Ministry. With family support dwindling, more students are turning to the Japan Student Services Organization, the government-backed lender that charges interest from zero to 3 percent depending on academic credentials and prevailing bank rates. The university provided ¥2.1 billion in scholarships in the year that ended in March 2016, while its students had borrowed ¥9.3 billion in JASSO loans as of the end of the year.