25 March 2016
Japan plans to further increase the use of robots to overcome a host of societal and economic challenges associated with falling birth rates, ageing population, and declining economic productivity. Will these plans remain an aspiration or can Japan overcome the institutional and societal impediments to achieve a robotic revolution.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in 2014 a five-year plan to expand the use of robots in manufacturing, supply chains, construction and health care, to overcome challenges associated with falling birth rates, ageing population, and declining productivity in manufacturing and service sectors. Most advanced economies, along with some emerging countries like China, have in recent years initiated plans to develop and deploy robots for enhancing living standards and increasing economic productivity. However, no other country is as ambitious in this regard as Japan in aspiring to integrate robots so thoroughly in almost every aspect of society and economy.
At this moment, it is difficult to ascertain whether these plans remain an aspiration or Japan indeed would achieve a robotic revolution by 2020. Nevertheless, it is obivious that as the third largest economy in the world and as a technological powerhouse, failure or success of these plans in Japan is certain to have far-reaching implications for the region. It is pertinent that we understand what drives Japan towards increased robotisation of its society, and what are the institutional and societal impediments that Japan potentially has to deal with in its quest for a robotics revolution.
… Kalyan M. Kemburi is an Associate Research Fellow with the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This is part one of a two-part series.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 28/03/2016