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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”There is no immigrant in Japan” in theory, while there are over 1 million  foreign workers 

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Pick of the week from Japan, 19 – 23 June

”There is no immigrants in Japan” in theory, while there are over 1 million  foreign workers

As a consequence of decreasing number of young population, foreign work force has become indispensable especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Japan. It’s not unusual to see foreign student working in restaurants or convenience stores in large cities. (Source: Digital Asahi newspaper, 21 June)

When I found this article, I’ve thought “Better late than never”.

Despite the reality, there is no official status of immigrants in the Japanese administration. There is no law or official rules for immigrants in the country yet. The present foreign workers are accepted as trainees or part time workers within a framework of part-time job allowed to foreign students.

It is a long-lasting habit of Japan not to seriously take fundamental requirements, such as immigration. Instead the country always lived with a walk-around solution by allowing de facto foreign workers as “exceptions” or “temporary” solutions.

But how long is “temporary”?

Though strong resistance to changes may be a sign of stability of society in one sense, foreign workers case in Japan is not. It is merely a sign of attitude of law makers not to be involved issues which they are not interested.

It is time for all the Japanese to start thinking of what society they wish to create with non-Japanese people living in the country. We must discuss and think how to live with people with variety of nationalities. This is an obligation in the era when cross-border mobility of workforce is a matter of practice.

  • 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 12 to 16 Jun. 2017

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12 Jun. Robot suit for workers of nuclear power generation decommissioning, a subsidiary of Panasonic to develop

A subsidiary of Panasonic, ATOUN (Nara city), announced a plan to develop “the power assist suit” using the robot technology for workers engaged in decommissioning of the nuclear power generation. One may lift heavy things by small power when he/she wears it.

Comments: It’s great that robot technologies may be used for the cloth. This idea may be used to support people with limited mobility, such as the aged and handicapped people.

The robot suit is to be developed based on the existing product, Power Assist Suit

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13 Jun. Bus accident on Tomei Expressway immediately recorded in video and seen via the Internet by the operating company 

There was a massive collision of a car and sightseeing bus on the Tomei Expressway in Shinshiro-shi, Aichi on 10th. The operating company of the bus immediately grasped the state that a car jumped from the opposite lane and crashed against the bus. he bus was equipped with the Drive recorder which allows to watch driving video and driving record through a cell-phone network.

Comments: It is brilliant!

Video of the accident –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jH5Hjt6lJQ#action=share

14 Jun. Jam-packed bus, disappearing flavor of old days …. Dilemma of Kyoto of rapidly increasing number of international tourists

While the number of foreign tourists is rapidly increasing in outstanding tourist city, Kyoto, its side effects are creating unexpected effects on everyday life of inhabitants. Public buses are always full and the number of illegal lodgings is increasing. Some started crying that the status has reached to the limit and that sightseeing is “pollution by tourism”.

Comments: The same happened some 40 years ago by Japanese tourists in Kyoto. The city just can’t keep up with the rapid change.

15 Jun.  “3D map” becoming infrastructure supporting the era of automatic driving

Production of the full-scale three-dimensional “digital map” necessary for the automatic driving of a car is getting momentum of production. The Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, the fund established by the Government and Mitsubishi Electric announced that  they would gather data of all the expressways and 30,000 kilos of exclusive motor ways  in Japan by 2018. It is intended to create the  infrastructure needed by he automatic driving and thus aim at leading international competition.

Comments: Being instruments needed for enabling the automatic driving is developed. automatic driving may not be dream any more sooner than one would imagine.

16 Jun. Aiming at automatic driving taxi, an automatic driving venture and Hinomaru Transport allied

Hinomaru Transport  (Tokyo),  One of the largest taxi companies in Japan, and ZMP (Tokyo) of the automatic driving venture announced that they would work together to enable the practical use of the unmanned taxi. It is intended to operate an automatic driving taxi in limited areas in Tokyo by 2020, the year of Tokyo Olympic Games.

Comments: Another marvelous development of automatic driving in Japan! Who will be clients of such taxi? — Maybe those who are curious. We need to learn my uhf through experience before taking benefits of technologies.

  • 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 5 to 9 June 2017

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5 Jun. Experiment of the remote control of a car on a public road starting this summer in Aichi-ken

The Governor Hideaki Omura of Aichi-ken announced at a press conference of 5th that experiments of the remotely controlled  cars on the public roads  in Nagoya-shi, Kasugai-shi and Kota-cho for the first time in Japan this summerA driver does not get on the driver‘s seat of the car and she/he controls the car from the remote place.

Comments: An automatic driving car coming closer to the reality.

6 Jun. Increasing “Curving out” of business, even despite good performance. Why?

Major reason of the sale of subsidiaries and business branches were restructuring of the parent company or bad performance. Nowadays the number of the sale by good performing companies are increasing. The total volume of such sale amount to one trillion yen scale among major companies since 2013. Such sale is calledcurving out” (business separation), and often investment funds are involved. The selling company performs new investment financed by the curving out and the buying fund aims at securing of profit from the purchased company.

Comments: What is a company for? Its mission is being questioned.

7 Jun. The summer with an reactivated nuclear plant after being put on-hold for four years in the Kansai region, foreseeing excess of the power

Kansai Electric Power Co. has resumed operation of the third unit of Takahama Nuclear Power Plant  (Fukui-ken) again, and this will bring back the Kansai region “the summer with a nuclear power plant in operation” for the first time in the past four years. Despite a repeated threat by the Power company that advocated the need for a nuclear power plant, there will be excessive power even during the peak hours in summer. With a small reduction of the electricity bill for consumers yet remaining doubt on the security of neighboring inhabitants of nuclear plants, re-starting of operations of nuclear plants goes on in Japan.

Comments: Do we really need the nuclear plants to supply power to Japan?

8 Jun. The world’s first Nintendo area to be constructed in the USJ, right next to the Harry Potter zone

Universal Studios Japan (USJ, Osaka-shi) inaugurated the beginning of construction of the new area of Nintendo filled with popular game characters such as “Mario”. This is the first theme park of Nintendo in the world. USJ will invest record-high over 60 billion yen in the Nintendo area aiming at its opening before the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.

Comments: Game characters are a major part of international attraction of Japan.

任天堂USJ

Video –> http://www.usj.co.jp/nintendo/

9 Jun. “Please enjoy time for the couple”, a one-off law for the Emperor’s abdication is passed

A one-off law to enable abdication of His Majesty the Emperor was passed on the 9th. The voice of thanks was heard from those related to the Imperial couple for His Majesty the Emperor who embodied the symbol of Japan since his enthronement in 1989, and the Empress who supported him all the time.

Comments: When all the population is aging, kings/Queen and Emperors/Empresses are not exception. Why Japan handled the Emperor’s retirement by an one-off law that applies to the present Emperor only, instead of a regular law that applies to all the Emperors in the future?

  • 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 8 to 12 May 2017

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8 May LIXIL returned the best sales performance, thanks to a solid shower toilet selling well in China

The net income of the settlement of accounts (international accounting standards) of a house equipment major, LIXIL Group, recorded the highest gain of 42,500 million yen for March, 2017 period (cf. a deficit of 25,600 million yen in 2016).  This was due to results of cost cutting and good sales performance of overseas restroom business including China.

Comments: This news indicates consumer interests in China have turned to the improvement of living conditions.

9 May You may be a sales person even above 70 years old, Daiwa Securities to lift the age limit of reemployment

Securities major Daiwa Securities Group Inc. decided to lift the age limit of the reemployment of the sales job, which presently is 70 years old. It is intended to reinforce sales force by utilizing abundant experience of the veteran work force.

Comments: Good not to eliminate resources because of the age, but what will be their payment? A major problem of the present Japanese reemployment after the legal retirement age is a sharp decrease of wages even for the same job.

10 May Film for tablets that may not be broken, invented by RIKEN TECHNOS Corp.

A plastic film maker, RIKEN TECHNOS CORPORATION, returned a record high operating income of 5,800 million yen for March 2017, up by 15.3% from the previous year.  While the main product was a vinyl  chloride material for automobiles, the company developed a plastic film which was hard to be broken for the screens of tablet terminals, anticipating that the number of cars produced in Japan may not grow any more.

Comments: From core-competence, taking into account the digital markets, innovation is born.

12 May Search by a smartphone application of strolling person due to dementia, the first field trial in Aichi-ken

A trial to look for an elderly person strolling around because of dementia using an application of smartphone started. Those who look for such person may send some information of the missing person such as his/her characteristics to  the smartphones of the cooperators, thus expand a search network to the entire region. The first field experiment in Japan took place in Kasuga-shi, Aichi-ken in April.

Comments: A key to success may be to have a large number of people who install and pay attention to such an application, or social awareness raiding.

  • 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 17 to 21 April, 2017

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17 Apr. Sharp to fight back in household appliance markets, increasing the variations of models of fridges and TVs

The president of Sharp, Mr. J.W. Tai, revealed a strategy to largely increase the line-up of  household electrical appliance such as TV and the refrigerator for the domestic market in 2017. While its computers are reducing the household appliance business due to thin-margin, Sharp dare intends to increase its presence in the market.

Comments: Having been acquired by Foxconn, it remains to be seen if and in what ways Sharp will reborn.

18 Apr. Field experiment of “Robot cat Yamato”, an automatic driving car for the home delivery of parcels started, aiming at the 100% automatic delivery in the future

A giant  of home delivery of parcels, Yamato Transport, and an IT major, DeNA, have begun a field experiment of parcel delivery service by an automatic driving car, “Robo cat Yamato“, envisaging unmanned delivery in the future. Clients can call a car loaded with a locker-type safekeeping box to receive parcels to the place they wish, including the workplace. It is aimed to reduce time and labour of re-delivery for understaffed logistic centers.

Comments: It is an interesting application of technology of the automatic driving.

ロボネコ_03

19 Apr. Practicing English conversation with AI, which even do web searching to respond to questions

The SOFTBANK commerce & service Crop. has started sellig “Musio X”, a robot which helps you to improve English conversation using the artificial intelligence (AI). Musio X reads aloud English text by right pronunciation and undertakes the web search and answer to you for the questions asked in English. The company plans to add a function to the robot to operate air-conditioners upon voice command in the future. Music X is approximately 22 cm tall and weights 850 g. Its price is 98,000 yen (Approximately CHF 10’000) excluding tax, with monthly payment of 980 yen (Appx. CHF 10).

Comments: What an interesting use of AI! English teachers must use it to know a smart use of Musio X and teachers’ value which the robot can’t offer.

Musio X20 Apr. Trade surplus in FY 2016, for the first time in the past 6 years

According to the trade statistics (breaking news, customs-based accounting) of 2016 announced by the Ministry of Finance, the trade balance was the in the black figure of 4,006,900 million yen. It was the first black figure on the basis of a fiscal year in the past six years, or since the East Japan great earthquake disaster in 2011. This was largely a consequence of a large decrease of the import caused by strong yen and low price of the crude oil.

Comments: Good news for the moment, though the reason of trade surplus is not because of the economic recovery.

21 Apr. Will the initial investment of the simultaneous delivery of TV over the Internet be only 1% of assumptions by NHK?

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced for the first time an estimation of costs of the simultaneous delivery of TV over the Internet. As for the case in which TV broadcasting companies jointly use  the delivery system, initial investment to make the system would be 75 million yen per company, and the annual operation costs approximately 21 million yen. In contrast, estimation by NHK was five (5) billion yen for the initial investment and less than 10 billion yen a year for the operation, on the assumption of the single company operation. 

Comments: Does it signal a replacement of TV broadcasting over the air by the high speed Internet? 

  • 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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