Japan Government


Yamato and Rakuten to test delivery robots on Japan's public roads

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Yamato Transport and Rakuten are among a group of companies set to partner with the Japanese government to test unmanned delivery robots on public roads. The government will set up a council of officials from the public and private sectors next week to identify potential issues, including liability in the event of accidents and how to maintain safety. The group will also examine operating rules that could eventually be added to the Road Traffic Act. It is hoped that the robots will alleviate the labor shortage in Japan's logistics sector, as well as create new business opportunities. The robots are equipped with cameras and GPS to deliver goods without human intervention.


Japanese government adopts draft bill to create high-tech 'supercities'

The Japan Times

The government on Friday adopted a draft bill to realize its "supercity" initiative to create cities that make use of artificial intelligence, big data and other advanced technologies. In such cities, autonomous driving, cashless payments, goods delivery by drone and novel services using sophisticated technologies will be introduced in an integrated manner. Initially, the government planned to submit to the Diet a bill to revise the national strategic special zone law by the end of March. But it was unable to do that because of difficulty obtaining support from the Cabinet Legislation Bureau for related deregulation. The bill is unlikely to pass the Diet before the end of the ongoing ordinary session, set for June 26.


Speculation grows in Japan that Diet session will be extended to enable double election

The Japan Times

Speculation within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over a possible extension of the current regular Diet session, a move that could result in a double election this summer, has grown ahead of the scheduled end of the 150-day session on June 26. The speculation has grown because the government is moving to submit a bill to revise the law on national strategic special zones in order to realize "super cities" where cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence will be fully utilized. It's believed that it will be difficult to pass the legislation during the ongoing session without an extension. The move and the possible extension is apparently aimed at setting the stage for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to dissolve the House of Representatives and arrange an election for the same date as that of a triennial election this summer for the House of Councilors. Opposition parties, as well as Komeito, the coalition partner of the LDP, are cautious over the possibility of a double election.


Time for a change? Japan wants international media to put family names first

The Japan Times

Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to ask overseas media outlets to write the names of Japanese people with the family name first, as is customary in the Japanese language. If realized, the new policy would mark a major shift in the country's long-running practice for handling Japanese names in foreign languages -- which began in the 19th to early 20th centuries amid the growing influence of Western culture. At a news conference Tuesday, Kono said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's name should be written as "Abe Shinzo," in line with other Asian leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Now is the right time to make the change, given that the Reiwa Era has just begun and several major events -- including next month's Group of 20 summit and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- are approaching, Kono said. "I plan to ask international media organizations to do this. Domestic media outlets that have English services should consider it, too," he said, citing a report released in 2000 by the education ministry's National Language Council that said it was desirable to write Japanese names with the family name first in all instances.


Iran's foreign minister says US sanctions 'unacceptable'

FOX News

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, walks to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe's official residence in Tokyo Thursday, May 16, 2019. Iran's foreign minister has said his country is committed to an international nuclear deal and criticized escalating U.S. sanctions "unacceptable" as he met with Japanese officials in Tokyo amid rising tensions in the Middle East.(AP Saudi Arabia said drones attacked one of its pipeline.; TOKYO – Iran's foreign minister says his country is committed to an international nuclear deal but that the escalating U.S. sanctions are "unacceptable." The remarks come amid rising tensions in the Mideast, with allegations of sabotage targeting oil tankers near the Persian Gulf, a drone attack by Yemen's Iranian-allied rebels and the dispatch of U.S. warships and bombers to the region.


Facial recognition to be used for officials and journalists at Emperor's anniversary ceremony, but not for politicians

The Japan Times

The government plans to use a facial recognition system at a ceremony later this month to mark the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's accession to the throne, officials said. The use of facial recognition technology, a first for a government-sponsored event in Japan, is designed to reduce the time required for participant identification and help prevent terrorism. Using images of the faces of participants registered in advance, the system authenticates recognized faces in some 10 seconds per person with an accuracy rate of more than 99 percent, the officials said. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony set to take place at Tokyo's National Theatre on Feb. 24. The facial recognition system will be used for hundreds of people including government officials and journalists.


Japan to use facial recognition system at Emperor's anniversary ceremony

The Japan Times

The government plans to use a facial recognition system at a ceremony later this month to mark the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's accession to the throne, officials said. The use of facial recognition technology, a first for a government-sponsored event in Japan, is designed to reduce the time required for participant identification and help prevent terrorism. Using face images of participants registered in advance, the system completes the recognition authentication process in some 10 seconds per person with an accuracy rate of more than 99 percent, the officials said. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony set to take place at Tokyo's National Theatre on Feb. 24. Of the total, the facial recognition system will be used for hundreds of people, including government officials and journalists.


Innovative ideas to address global challenges

The Japan Times

As a forerunner facing various social challenges, including addressing the aging population, as well as environmental and energy issues, Japan is poised to find solutions and share them with other countries that are also expected to be confronted with these complex problems. Through hosting the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka in June, the country will promote further cooperation among all relevant stakeholders, both government and non-governmental, toward a future society that realizes both economic growth and solutions for such issues. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, will be a timely occasion for world leaders to address these growing challenges as the conference aims to delve into the topics to "shape a new framework for global cooperation," preparing for the arrival of "Globalization 4.0" driven by the "Fourth Industrial Revolution." Assuming the G20 presidency immediately after the Buenos Aires summit in December, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated Japan would seek to realize a "human-centered future society," promoting discussions in cross-cutting areas. "Japan is determined to lead global economic growth by promoting free trade and innovation, achieving both economic growth and reduction of disparities, and contributing to the development agenda and other global issues with the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) at its core," Abe said. "In addition, we will lead discussions on the supply of global commons for realizing global growth such as quality infrastructure and global health," he continued.


Murder probe launched after Japanese language school operator found dead in Chiba Prefecture

The Japan Times

CHIBA – A 75-year-old man operating a Japanese language school has been found dead at his apartment in Chiba Prefecture, prompting police to launch a murder investigation. The body of Jiro Iwai, who managed the school as well as other companies, was found around 1:30 p.m. Sunday when a female employee visited his home to find him dead and bleeding from a wound to the head. Investigative sources said Iwai, who lived alone in an apartment in Sakura, Chiba Prefecture, was likely struck multiple times in the killing. An autopsy showed he may have died of damage to his spinal cord. But despite the violent death, police said there were no signs of a struggle and that a light in the room where he was killed had been left on.


Casino Artificial Intelligence Technology Takes Hold in Michigan, Will be Tracking Your Feelings

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The next time you walk into the Gun Lake Casino just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, you're going to be watched like you've never been watched before. Facial recognition technology is now being put to use at the Gun Lake Casino in Michigan. Where you go, how you get there, how long you stay there, and even how you're feeling at the time will be electronically tracked and integrated into a new security protocol as part of a new pilot program at the casino. The new artificial intelligence (AI) technology was created by a California company called VSBLTY, and depending on your perspective, it could be seen as a boost to casino safety and security, or an audacious encroachment by big brother. "All VSBLTY software modules use advanced FacialAnalytics that gather identified audience measurement (age, gender, dwell time, and sentiment)," reads the release.