My visit to Japan has coincided with the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings. During the occasion, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for global cooperation to end nuclear weapons. Nuclear science was supposed to bring unlimited supply of energy to the power-starved countries of the world. Nuclear research was supposed to bring an unlimited supply of energy to the power-starved countries of the world.
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. 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. Capital spending is the most important factor in Japan's productivity growth, Goldman Sachs economists wrote in a recent report. Izumi Devalier, head of Japan economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo, said the labor shortage could turn out to be an opportunity, forcing Japanese service-sector companies to finally start investing, and perhaps fueling an economic revival.
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.
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.
Prior to the conclusion of the gathering, ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union adopted a declaration Saturday pledging to reinforce international cooperation in creating safety regulations to promote self-driving cars. "We will cooperate with each other and exercise leadership to support the early commercialization of automated and connected vehicle technologies," the declaration adopted at the Saturday meeting said. On the sidelines of the ministerial talks, Ishii held bilateral meetings with his Canadian, British and German counterparts. In the talks with Chris Grayling, Britain's transport secretary, Ishii expressed a desire to deepen bilateral cooperation in the railway business, a Japanese official said.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled a campaign to utilise emerging technologies, including drones and artificial intelligence, to increase productivity at construction sites by 20% by 2025. According to Japanese newspaper The Japan Times, Abe announced the plan at the inaugural meeting of a think tank tasked with formulating new growth strategy policies. The panel of government officials and industry experts is expected to announce details of the construction productivity strategy before the end of 2017. Potentially the think tank may recommend giving tax breaks and financial support to regional public works projects and SME construction companies that invest and utilise new technologies.
In the Nairobi Declaration adopted at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), the leaders also agreed to promote investment in infrastructure that leads to job creation in the fast-growing region. "Japan's public and private sectors will offer cooperation for the development that is led by Africa itself," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a news conference after wrap-up of the sixth TICAD, convened in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. "We will promote investment in quality infrastructure which leads to job creation and transfer of expertise and know-how, as well as to capacity building of African countries and people," the declaration said. Noting that Africa faces challenges such as terrorism, infectious diseases and falling commodities prices, the Japanese and African leaders also vowed in the Nairobi Declaration to make efforts to create jobs for young people and women, promote structural reforms to diversify industries and enhance health care systems to improve the quality of life.
Maybe it's just FOMO, but it seems like every internet company wants to be in the car business these days, and Japan's DeNA is no exception. DeNA has had an automotive business for a while now, though, and now it's launching its first production vehicle in partnership with French driverless tech company EasyMile, which makes the EZ10 Robot Shuttle currently being trialled in a number of global projects. It's not a full-featured city dweller, though; EasyMile's vehicles are designed specifically for use in private environments, where they don't have to contend with the added complexity of human traffic. DeNA's role in all of this is primarily to handle coordinating with local Japanese authorities to make sure the French company's hardware can operate in tandem with local regulations and existing systems, as well as facilitating insurance and offering "services" to customers who purchase the self-driving vehicles for deployment.
Since Google's computer program AlphaGo won four out of five matches against South Korea's champion Go player, Japanese governmental officials are seriously wondering whether artificial intelligence (AI) is the way to rewrite Japan's blueprint for the future. IBM's Deep Blue beat chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997, and in 2012, computer programs beat professionals of Shogi, also known as Japanese chess. On the other hand, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is also nursing an eager expectation. "In the 21st century, humans created artificial intelligence," Matsuda has warned.