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Japan Seeks to Global Leadership in AI

Japan is currently offering new opportunities in the sphere of digital technologies using innovative artificial intelligence tools.

Japan Seeks to Global Leadership in AI

For Tokyo, AI can potentially become something like a means of combating the problem of labor reduction, which has formed against the background of the aging process of the population. For foreign companies, the current aspirations of Japan are an opportunity both in terms of commercial interests and in the context of technological development prospects. Firms from other countries can establish cooperation with brands from an Asian country as part of a large-scale process that can be symbolically called a new industrial revolution, which Tokyo is gradually launching to transform Japanese society in many dimensions of its liveliness.

It is worth noting that more than 20 years ago, Japan had the status of a kind of global center of advanced electronics. Over time, the technological potential of the Asian country has significantly weakened. Currently, Japan is striving to regain its former positions in the relevant area. As part of the implementation of the plan aimed at achieving the specified goals, Tokyo aims to create a powerful homegrown chip manufacturing system and develop artificial intelligence.

AI has already ceased to be a kind of specialized technology. Currently, artificial intelligence has a fair status as one of the main discoveries of mankind in modern history.

The full realization of the potential of AI as a tool for transforming the liveliness process of human civilization still belongs to the category of expected achievements of the near future, but the corresponding prospect is obvious. Many futurologists predict that artificial intelligence will determine the modification of reality in such aspects of the existence of the space of being as socio-economic, political, and cultural. In the context of this vision of the future, it is obvious that the country’s total potential for area international affairs will largely depend on its access to advanced developments in the sphere of AI and the availability of its domestic production and research base for the development of groundbreaking technology.

To take full advantage of artificial intelligence, entrepreneurs need to implement cutting-edge innovations. Companies must form the infrastructure and provide financial resources to successfully move towards the development of new-generation technologies. In this case, the government needs to create an environment conducive to innovation. Tokyo provides all three listed elements.

Japan, having become an economic center, began to adhere to an approach in which industry and government should cooperate as partners and abandon the concept of hostile perceptions of each other. The achievements of the Asian country in the area of innovation have become proof of the effectiveness of the mentioned approach. Japan is currently strengthening its technological potential.

Sega Cheng, co-founder and CEO of iKala, a Taiwanese company that helps its customers implement artificial intelligence solutions, says there are many reasons to be optimistic about Tokyo’s prospects in the AI industry. According to him, Japanese clients are ready to pay the right price and strive for long-term cooperation with suppliers. Sega Cheng says that such business practices are invaluable for any company that intends to start a business in Japan.

Tokyo intends to achieve increased productivity through the use of artificial intelligence technologies. In a sense, this goal is vital for the Japanese economy, since the reduction of the labor force has a sensitive impact on the country’s industry. Tokyo also plans to use artificial intelligence technologies in the sphere of healthcare. The aging population needs a better quality of medical care. However, the problem of reducing the workforce has also affected the sphere of healthcare. In this case, AI can become a tool whose functionality compensates for the lack of staff. Furthermore, there is an opinion that healthcare will become the main area of artificial intelligence use in Japan.

Currently, a change in the collective perception of machine intelligence is being recorded in Japanese society. The results of a survey conducted by the PwC consulting group in the spring of 2023 showed that only 10% of respondents use generative artificial intelligence in apps such as ChatGPT. Six months later, the mentioned figure increased to 73%.

NEC, a Japanese multinational company in the area of information technology and electronics, has developed its own corporate generative artificial intelligence system called Cotomi. This firm also plans to build up additional AI configurations for specific spheres of activity, including the manufacturing sector and healthcare.

Preferred Networks, a Japanese startup, specializes in the development of customized chips designed for machines that power generative artificial intelligence.

The city of Yokosuka, located in Kanagawa Prefecture south of Tokyo, became the first municipality in an Asian country to run a trial of ChatGPT for administrative operations last year.

Technology giants, which are the largest global players in the artificial intelligence industry, are currently considering the possibility of activity in Japan. Such potential cooperation would be beneficial for both sides. In this case, Tokyo will provide favorable conditions for international companies to carry out their activities. Foreign firms will accelerate the development of Japan’s technological capacity. Tokyo can potentially achieve the corresponding goal on its own, but in this case, it is likely to be a long process, since the Asian country will have to overcome a significant gap from the leaders of the innovation environment.

Nvidia, based in the United States and developing advanced chips for artificial intelligence systems, announced plans to work with Japanese partners to establish an ecosystem in the country related to AI technologies. The company intends to build a research laboratory in Japan and invest in local startups.

In Japan, domestic firm Sakana AI also specializes in developments in the artificial intelligence industry. This company was founded in Tokyo by former Google research scientist David Ha and engineer Llion Jones. Sakana AI cooperates with telecommunications firm NTT.

David Ha and Llion Jones’s company is also a member of the AI Alliance, an international group founded by IBM and Meta, which includes more than 50 firms, universities, and scientific organizations that help foster open software programs for the development of generative artificial intelligence. This Alliance, which includes Keio University, Sony, and the University of Tokyo, is focused on improving the capabilities, security, and trustworthiness of AI.

Japan has also launched government programs that will shape the artificial intelligence environment, aiming to provide the nation with the resources necessary to realize the concept of digital transformation. Moreover, Tokyo plans to establish a national institute for the safety of AI technologies.

The potential of artificial intelligence allows us to use advanced technology not only as a tool to increase operational efficiency and productivity. AI can also become a means of gaining a competitive advantage by transforming products, business models, and corporate organizations. The corresponding functional possibility is stated in last year’s report by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. This report was devoted to the promotion of digital technologies in an Asian country.

Also in 2023, the leaders of the G7 countries launched the Hiroshima AI Process. This initiative is focused on forming a common vision and goal of safe and trustworthy artificial intelligence. During an online meeting held in December, a group of authorized representatives of the G7 countries agreed on international guiding principles for AI.

The ideological basis of Japan’s approach to artificial intelligence as one of the main postulates defines the assertion that no single company or nation can supply all the answers in the rapidly changing AI technology. This belief contributed to the formation of a logical technological policy for the government of the Asian country, providing for cooperation with other states, corporations, and entrepreneurs from around the world for the new industrial revolution to become an objective reality.

Sega Cheng says that Tokyo is moving towards its goal of developing AI very quickly, both in terms of regulatory compliance and as a matter of research funding.

It is worth noting that government support is part of Japan’s large-scale efforts aimed at raising investments and gaining international talent in the Asian country’s technology sector. Tokyo offers foreign companies a variety of programs designed to help specialists get used to the local environment. Access to these programs can be obtained through the Japanese External Trade Organization (Jetro).

Chipmaking is also actively developing in the Asian country. In November, it became known that the intention of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) was to build a third microcircuit-producing plant in Japan. In November, the local Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced plans to allocate $13 billion for the development of the domestic sector of making microcircuits. In October, the media reported on the intention of Taiwanese Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. to build a factory in Japan. Chip production will be established at this plant. It is worth noting that some projects still exist in the idea format, but have a high degree of probability of implementation.

Serhii Mikhailov

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Serhii’s track record of study and work spans six years at the Faculty of Philology and eight years in the media, during which he has developed a deep understanding of various aspects of the industry and honed his writing skills; his areas of expertise include fintech, payments, cryptocurrency, and financial services, and he is constantly keeping a close eye on the latest developments and innovations in these fields, as he believes that they will have a significant impact on the future direction of the economy as a whole.