The Japan Times


Rakuten and China's JD.com to tie up for unmanned delivery service in Japan

The Japan Times

Major Japanese and Chinese e-commerce companies Rakuten Inc. and JD.com Inc. said Thursday they will tie up and commercialize an unmanned delivery service in Japan to save the time, cost and labor involved in parcel shipments in the wake of the explosive growth of online shopping. Rakuten will employ JD.com's drones and unmanned ground vehicles, which the Chinese firm already operates in commercial services in its home country, as it prepares to introduce autonomous delivery in Japan. The Tokyo-based firm has been conducting experiments and trial services of autonomous parcel delivery since 2016, seeing it as an effective solution to the "last mile" issue of cutting the time and cost of shipping packages from transportation hubs to consumers' doors. JD.com, also known as Jingdong, launched the world's first commercial drone delivery in 2016 in China and is aiming to expand its service abroad. JD.com Vice President Xiao Jun said there are "many opportunities" in Japan for drone deliveries in mountainous areas and remote islands.


Rakuten and China's JD.com to tie up for unmanned delivery in Japan

The Japan Times

Major Japanese and Chinese e-commerce companies Rakuten Inc. and JD.com Inc. said Thursday they will tie up and commercialize an unmanned delivery service in Japan to save time, cost and labor of parcel shipments in the wake of the explosive growth of online shopping. Rakuten will employ drones and unmanned ground vehicles of JD.com, which already operates them in commercial services in China, as it prepares to introduce autonomous delivery in Japan. The Tokyo-based firm has been conducting experiments and trial services of autonomous parcel delivery since 2016, seeing it as an effective solution to the "last mile" issue of cutting the time and cost of shipping packages from transportation hubs to consumers' doors. JD.com, also known as Jingdong, launched the world's first commercial drone delivery in 2016 in China and is aiming to expand its service abroad. JD.com Vice President Xiao Jun said there are "many opportunities" in Japan for drone deliveries in mountainous areas and remote islands.


Samsung launches Galaxy S10, first 5G handset, as well as Galaxy Fold 'luxury' folding tablet smartphone

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO - Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled a smartphone Wednesday that when folded open can be used as a tablet, becoming the first major manufacturer to offer the feature as it strives to stoke excitement in a slumping market. The South Korean giant also appeared to get the jump on rivals by announcing the first smartphone for fifth-generation -- or 5G -- wireless networks, while stepping up its efforts in artificial intelligence and wearables. The Galaxy Fold, unveiled at a San Francisco event, serves as a smartphone with a 4.6-inch display but also opens like a book to become a 7.3-inch tablet. "We are giving you a device that doesn't just define a new category, it defies category," said Samsung's Justin Denison at the event. The Fold will be available April 26, starting at $1,980, the company said.


Japan to ease language requirements for foreign nursing care trainees amid sluggish growth in applications

The Japan Times

The central government plans to ease language requirements for foreign technical interns in the nursing care sector as part of its efforts to bring in more laborers from abroad, government sources have said. Japan opened up its nursing care sector to foreign nationals willing to work as trainees from November 2017. But the number of such trainees has seen sluggish growth apparently due to Japanese-language proficiency requirements, which have been set higher than those for interns in other sectors. Currently, care workers must have either reached the N4 level on the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test before entering the country or pass N3 a year after they arrive. Those who fail the N3 test have to return to their home country.


China regulator requests pause in new video game applications to clear backlog

The Japan Times

BEIJING/SHANGHAI - China's top content regulator has asked local authorities to stop submitting requests to monetize new video games while it processes a backlog of applications built up after a lengthy pause last year, three people with knowledge of the matter have said. The General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) issued the notice this week, the people said, indicating the impact on gaming stocks of the nine-month hiatus could continue and dulling hopes raised by the recent resumption of approvals. The regulator's notice has not previously been reported. China stopped approving the monetization of new titles last March amid a regulatory body reshuffle triggered by growing criticism of games being violent and addictive, as well as concern over the increase in myopia among young people. Gaming firms such as Tencent -- China's most valuable listed company -- were able to continue filing applications, building up a backlog.


Ford to close oldest plant in Brazil, cut 2,700 jobs and exit South America truck biz

The Japan Times

SAO PAULO/DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. said on Tuesday it will close its oldest factory in Brazil and exit its heavy commercial truck business in South America, a move that could cost more than 2,700 jobs as part of a restructuring meant to end losses around the world. Ford previously said the global reorganization, to impact thousands of jobs and possible plant closures in Europe, would result in $11 billion in charges. Following that announcement, analysts and investors had expected a similar restructuring in South America. Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said last month that investors would not have to wait long for the South American reorganization plan. The factory slated for closure is in Sao Bernardo do Campo, an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo that has operated since 1967.


Exposed Chinese database shows depth of surveillance state

The Japan Times

BEIJING - The Chinese database Victor Gevers found online was not just a collection of old personal details. It was a compilation of real-time data on more than 2.5 million people in western China, updated constantly with GPS coordinates of their precise whereabouts. Alongside their names, birth dates and places of employment, there were notes on the places that they had most recently visited -- mosque, hotel, restaurant. The discovery by Gevers, a Dutch cybersecurity researcher who revealed it on Twitter last week, has given a rare glimpse into China's extensive surveillance of Xinjiang, a remote region home to an ethnic minority population that is largely Muslim. The area has been blanketed with police checkpoints and security cameras that apparently are doing more than just recording what happens.


Sharp takes wraps off new RoBoHon, with apps aimed at getting families and firms used to 'life with robots'

The Japan Times

Sharp Corp. on Monday released three new models of its RoBoHon humanoid robot with a wider range of use for families and corporate clients. The new lineup -- two walking models and one that remains seated -- focuses more on family users with small children, who can experience "life with robots," the company said during an event in Tokyo. The number of apps that can be loaded on the robots will gradually increase to 46 from the current 30, the company said. These include an app that sends an image taken by the robot of a family member returning home to a user's email address. Users can try real-time monitoring of their homes through the app for an extra monthly charge of ¥300 plus tax.


In era of AI and apps that track, could Recruit be Japan's top contender for global internet domination?

The Japan Times

It was one of the most infamous companies in Japan, rocking the nation with a corporate scandal that ousted a prime minister and then nearly collapsing under a mountain of debt. Now, Recruit Holdings Co. is back, reinvented by a group of employees who quietly turned the magazine publisher and job placement firm into an internet giant that touches the lives of almost every consumer in the world's third-biggest economy. If Recruit were a U.S. company, it would be like having LinkedIn, Zillow, Yelp, eHarmony, Booking.com, "We are there, every time people choose to do things," said Masumi Minegishi, Recruit's 55-year-old chief executive officer. As the biggest internet companies compete for world domination with apps that track consumers and use artificial intelligence to crunch data and provide tailored services, Recruit is Japan's leading contender.


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.