Robots supporting the elders being tested

 

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Pick of the week from Japan, 11 – 15 September

11 Sep. Field experiment of robots supporting the elder

The day may be coming close when robots support a comfortable living with security of the elders. Fujita Health University (Toyoake-shi, Aichi-ken) has just opened a filed laboratory of a small robots for the life support. It is planned to improve the robots integrating the voice of the elder who will have used the experimental ones.

The rapid aging of the Japanese population is known to the world but not known so well that a quarter of the household is inhabited only those who are over 65 years old, of which a half is a single household. Hence robots are expected to support millions of the elders living alone.

Japan has much to contribute to the world. Drawn upon its manufacturing capacity based on craftsmanship coupled with the aging of the population fastest in the world, a robot supporting the elders’ lives is an excellent example.

The aging is a fact of life for everyone. I hope that Japan will find a brand new area of its competitiveness using the country’s resources, including the elders, who have not been valued in society.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 31 May to 2 June 2017

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31 May Airport operating company of major airports in Osaka region reported the settlement of accounts of net income 16,900 million yen, for the first time after the airport privatization

The Kansai airport which operates the Kansai Airport and Osaka (Itami) airport announced the annual settlement of accounts for the first time after the airports privatization. The operating company reported the operating income equal to the sales amount of March, 2017 period, 180,200 million yen, and the net income indicating the final profit 16,900 million yen, thanks to the largest number of passengers for the Kansai Airport and the increase of the landing tax.

Comments: Why Kansai, not in Tokyo? Worth investigating.

1 Jun. Mitsubishi UFJ Bank looking into to the Netherlands for the new location of its securities base due to Brexit

With European Union (EU) secession decision of the U.K., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (FG) is reported to be examining Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as a major candidate as a new base of its securities business operation in Europe. The Group will make the final decision this summer.

Comments: Would the Bank brave enough to leave the UK?

2 Jun. Power-free walk-support machine developed, fatigue reduction, good for health

There is neither the battery nor the motor. Imasen Electric Seisakujo (Inuyama-shi, Aichi) , an automotive parts maker, developed a walk-support machine “aLQ” (aruku, meaning “walk” in Japanese) for the use by wide public. The machine gets attention as a product of research collaboration between the university and industry, that applied a principle of the power-free bipedal robot and car manufacturing techniques.

Comments: Nice product! aLQ will be needed a number of people when the population is aging.

aLQ

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 20 to 26 May 2017

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20 May Shogi Maestro Amahiko SATO defeated by AI

The Shoji Maestro Amahiko SATO was defeated by PONANZA,  artificial intelligence (AI) of Shogi, at the second match between the human Shogi maestro and AI held in  Himeji-jo Castle of Himeji-shi, Hyogo. This win has became the two successive victories of PONANZA, which marked the defeat of the human maestro who was the top of the Shogi world.

Comments: It is endless in what AI could do.

23 May Japanese LCC, Peach Aviation to introduce bit coins, aiming at more passengers visiting Japan

A Japanese Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Peach Aviation will enable purchasing airline tickets by a virtual currency bit coin  within this year. While an increasing number of retail stores and restaurants have begun introducing it as a means of payment in Japan, this is the first case among major means of transportation. Peach Aviation is expecting the use by overseas visitors to Japan by facilitating the payment.

Comments: It’s a marketing strategy to use bit coins to facilitate visitors from China.  Market volume counts.

24 May Pushing market development of pharmaceutical companies in the newly developing economies, a new organization to be established on the basis of public and private sectors partnership

The Japanese Government is establishing an organization in cooperation with the private sectors to push forward the Japanese pharmaceutical companies in the rising economies. The organization may build a factory in host countries so that participating companies may use it. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who till be the general manager of the organization is going to announce the plan in the strategic promotion office of the health and medical sectors to be open in June.

Comments: Would the pharmaceutical sector need that much hands-on support by the Government?

25 May Discovered possible therapeutic drug of the intractable disease ALS, Univ. of Kyoto by using induced pluripotent stem cells

A research team of Professor Haruhisa Inoue (neurology) of University of Kyoto discovered the compound that may be a candidate of the therapeutic drug using the induced pluripotent stem cells made from the skin of a patient of the intractable disease “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS) that causes symptoms of muscle weakness.  It was confirmed by experiment using mice that the compound works to suppress the progress of illness.

Comments: Good news!

26 May Orix to sell an electricity subsidiary, Kansai Electric Power tenders a bid for sale

Prix is selling is subsidiary, Orix Electricity (Tokyo) that undertakes a mass sales of the electricity apartments. Prix is going to decide the sale by a bid from June to August.  Electricity majors, such as  Kansai Electric Power, and city gas majors are examining participation.

Comments: Does this indicate a failure of liberalization of the power supply?

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 10 to 14 April, 2017

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10 Apr. Population in Japan to be 88.08 million after 50 years,  becoming less than 100 million in 2053

National Institute of Population and Social Security Research announced estimation of future population in the coming 50 years, saying that population would become 88,080,000 in 2065. The prospect of the number of children whom a woman would give birth to (average number of birth per woman) after 50 years is 1.44, recovered from the estimation (1.35) in the last time in 2012. The speed of population decreased has become slower than the estimation last time. That said, the population decrease will continue in the coming 50 years to be 30% less than the present population, and the low birthrate and aging of population will remain unchanged.

Comments: The low birthrate, aging and decrease of population will continue being major factors of Japanese markets.

11 Apr. SDGs, Japanese companies have a long way to go, according to the first survey by a think tank

Japanese companies are yet to start activities for children in the future — concluded by the first report on actions and challenges of Japanese companies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocated by the United Nations.

Comments: It is like CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility. It may take some time for Japanese companies to digest and understand what SDG is for their own business. SDGs is not a charity slogan, but must be their underlying principles of business.

Logo_SDGs

12 Apr. Cyber attacks at infrastructure, such as the electricity and gas, under investigation by Metropolitan Police Department

The existence of a cyber attack aimed at companies and the government offices in charge of critical infrastructure such as the electricity, gas and railways became clear. There are even some cases in which no one noticed infection for nearly two and a half years while attacks had been there for four years. There is a risk that a large quantity of data might have been stolen without being found. The Metropolitan Police Department has been investigating these cases, saying that new infection routes were found.

Comments: Better late than never to investigate the cyber attacks.

13 Apr. Toyota to offer rental of rehabilitation support Robots, aiming at 1,000 rental in three years

Toyota Motor Corporation enters the new business of rehabilitation support using the robot. The robot is made applying the technique of the industrial robot for car manufacturing. The company will start the rental to medical institutions in SeptemberA market of robots for rehabilitation and care of the aged is growing to make up for the shortage of labour force.

Comments: An interesting idea to apply the core competence of a company to an emerging business opportunity in the aging society.

14 Apr. IRIS OHYAMA INC. to enter air conditioner markets, with remote- control functions by a smart phone

IRIS OHYAMA INC. announced that the company had developed the home air-conditioner equipped with a built-in radio communication devise so that one may control from a remote place using a smart phone. The company will start selling it in general merchandising stores of household appliances, etc. all over Japan from the 28th.

Comments: This is a home appliance version of the Internet of Things (IoT) !

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 3 to 7 April, 2017

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3 Apr. The highest possible hit of application for mountain clibmbers, being able to confirm location outside the mobile phone network zones

YAMAP, an application of map for mountain climbers developed by a venture company of Fukuoka-shi has become very popular. The application sees the 500,000 downloading, and 38 millions of monthly viewers, which are the largest numbers among the applications of this kind available in Japan. Drawn on the strength of being usable in those areas where the electric wave does not reach, attempts are being made to use it for wider purposes such as disaster prevention and sightseeing.

Comments: Swiss version of YAMAP may be very useful, if made available.

logo_YAMAP

4 Apr. Solar battery not needing the sun, developped by Sekisui Chemical

SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. developed the solar battery which could generate electricity indoor where the sun light does not reach. While not much power may be generated, one may bend or process the battery into tape and stick to something because it is in the form of a thin film and is light. The company will start selling it from 2017, aiming at the sales of 10 billion yen in 2015.

Comments: This technology may be a breakthrough for ecological power generation!

積水太陽電池

5 Apr. Payment by “bit coin” is becoming popular, Bic Camera to introduce it

There is an emerging trend to allow payments by the virtual currency “bit coin”. A major household appliance shop chain Bic Camera announced that it will allow payments by bit coin in some shops in Tokyo. The trend may spread to other retail shops and restaurants in future. While the bit coin is not free from risk of changes of market price, it is gradually becoming popular as a means of settlement.

Comments: Bit coins may dominate the present means of payments, such as “Osaifu Keitai” by domestic mobile phone service providers in Japan, as Bit coins may be used in wide payment opportunities worldwide. Foreign visitors to Japan may benefit from payments by Bit coins.

6 Apr. Sharp to increase the number of workers to 4,000 in Kameyama factory to increase production of parts of smart phones

Senior managers of Sharp revealed that the company will increase the number of workers of Kameyama factory (Kameyama-shi, Mie-ken) from 2,000 and several hundreds to about 4,000, including subcontractors. This move is in line with Sharp’s plan  to double the production volume of camera parts for smartphones.

Comments: It appears that Sharp is successfully walking a turnaround path since its acquisition by Foxconn (Taiwan).

7 Apr. Almost perfect precision with only a few centimeters’ errors, the second GPS satellite made in Japan released to the public

“Michibiki (guide)” the second, a quasi-zenith satellites of Japanese GPS (Global Positioning System), was shown to the public at  the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Tsukuba Space cCnter (Tsukuba-shi, Ibaragi-ken).  The launch from the first to the fourth unit is planned by the end of this year aimed at the full use in 2018.

Comments: This level of precision may allow a wide variety of use of locational information.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 27 to 31 March, 2017

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27 Mar. JR Shikoku to release P/L data of income deficit routes, looking for ideas to maintain the railway system

Mr. Han-iShinji, President of Shikoku Japan Railway Company (JR Shikoku, Takamatsu-shi), said, in response to the interview by Asahi News Paper, that he would  release the income-expenditure data of each line that has not been published to an advisory panel of experts to be started after April. It is intended to share the knowledge with the panel of difficult status of the railway network in Shikoku Region while local population decreases, and thus to explore ways to maintain the network.

Comments: It is surprising that such information has not been published so far. It is expected that publishing the deficit data would become the first step forward for transparency and public debate of problems of infrastructure.

28 Mar. Price increase is more efficient than ”a request” for power saving, revealed a study by a professor of Kyoto University

Professor Takanori Yoda (behavioral economics) of Kyoto University and his research team announced a result of their study that effects of a request for power saving to households to suppress the peak consumption volume of the electricity  did not last long. The study found that a rate structure in which electricity rates during certain time zones are higher than a regular rate is more efficient than a power saving request. The study will be published in an economic journal of the US.

Comments: It is interesting that on the contrary to consumers a power saving request has been proved to be efficient for business users. It is one of the mysteries of Japan that companies follow “Requests” by power companies even if there is no penalty and thy need the power supply to carry on working productively during hot and humid summer in Japan.  

29 Mar. You may find the temperature 100 years ago, the Meteorological Agency published the daily data

“You may find the temperature per day 100 years ago” — The Meteorological Agency published in its homepage (HP) the mean, highest and lowest temperatures every day observed in 156 spots all over the country from 1910 through to 1960. It is intended for the public to make use of the data for analysis and the study of the long-term climate change or upward trend of the temperature. http://www.data.jma.go.jp/obd/stats/etrn/index.php

Comments: The climate data has high value!

30 Mar. “Up to one hour per day” for using  the smartphone for child care, reported by a study group of the Internet service providers

“Do not use the smartphone for child care for more than one hour and no use since at least one hour before sleeping time” — recommended by “Study group on the Internet use for young children (Chairperson, professor Akira Sakamoto of Ochanomizu Women’s University)”, which major Internet service providers, such as Yahoo, had established to study pros and cons of the “smartphone nursery”, by which parents let young children use smartphones as toys.

Comments: Parens let babies use smartphones!

31 Mar. Consumers’ cooperative of various regions to enter the electricity-selling business for residential markets, drawn upon strong home delivery network for sales

This April is the first anniversary since the market liberalization of electricity sales for home. A number of regional consumers’ cooperatives in the Kansai region (the western region of Japan) enter the electricity-selling business. A business model is to procure the electricity from the power generation companies dealing with the velocity of the wind and photovoltaic power generation, and sell the power to Coop members. A home delivery network has become strength for the sales of the electricity.

Comments: Consumers’ cooperatives work as a sales channel for newly entered power generators (which are usually much smaller than existing power companies).

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 13 to 17 March, 2017

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13 Mar. Decrease by 3.2% from the previous month seen in machine order of January for the first time in the past two months

According to the machine order statistics (seasonal adjustment level) of January announced by the Cabinet Office, the amount of order of the civilian demand except for large ships and electricity machineries (due to a large magnitude of change), the amount was 837,900 million yen, decreasing by 3.2% compared to the month before. It was the first decrease in the past two months. The overall assessment was left unchanged, “the standstill was seen for the movement toward improvement”.

Comments: Economic improvements still hesitant.

16 Mar. Domestic production of heavy electric machinery and white goods are increasing, hitting the highest level in the past 10 years

The electric equipment industry society in Japan announced that it predicted the domestic production of the electric apparatus that  in 2017 of the electric apparatus that included the heavy electric machinery apparatus and white goods would be  5,655,800 million yen, the largest amount in the past 10 years. A major reason is the increase of heavy electric machinery apparatus due to the number of replacement needs of the boiler of power stations and an increasing demand for heavy electric machinery apparatus for the redevelopment of cities to be prepared for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held in 2020.

Comments: An economic impact of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is seen.

17 Mar. Nissan launched a car-sharing business with Yokohama-shi, using Ultra Compact EVs

Nissan Motor launched a car sharing business using the Ultra Compact electric cars (EVs) of the 2-crew in cooperation with Yokohama-shi. Users may borrow EVs from 14 stations located in the city center and use it for sightseeing, etc.

Comments: This initiative will help piling up know-how to operate a char-sharing business. A question remains, though — what is a major difference between this car-sharing model and a car rental business using a small vehicle?

日産横浜カーシェア

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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