Japan is rapidly moving towards “Society 5.0”, adding a fifth chapter to the four major stages of human development: hunter-gatherer, agrarian, industrial and information. In the new ultra-smart society, all things will be connected through the technology and all technologies will be integrated, dramatically improving the quality of life of human.
In this new era, the Government of Japan is doing everything it can to encourage various players, including start-ups and “hidden gems” among small- and medium-sized enterprises, to come up with brand-new, innovative and brilliant ideas, to provide the world with solutions.
- The Japanese invented canned coffee, instant noodles, karaoke, blue-light-emitting diodes (LED) and the Walkman. Japan was also a pioneer of MP3 technology. Sony and Phillips co-developed the compact disc.
- Japanese are obsessed with machines and the latest technology. Air conditioners(AC) are controlled by remotes; televisions speak in English and Japanese; cars tell you where to go; and robots are everywhere in Japan. In automated Japan, taxi doors open and close automatically, airports are cleaned with vacuum cleaners that operate without human help and parking lots have talking ticket-taking machines.Japanese scientists are currently trying to develop cars that can drive themselves without human effort.
- Japan’s talent for monozukuri (“thing making”) has been a vital key to its success. In the old days, Japanese thirst for new things and new gadgets kept the industry going. Costumers had the money and the proclivity to snatch up new gizmos that they quickly tired of, desiring even newer models, and a pool of engineers to keep them satisfied. Ideas that were innovative and caught on were promoted in overseas markets. These days Japanese hold on to their gadgets for long and have lost some of their enthusiasm for owning the newest thing. Consequently, sales have slackening in Japan and Japanese have lost some of its edge for coming up with cutting edge products.
- Japan’s aging population is widely seen as an obstacle to its innovation. As the population gets older and very few young people are born there are less young people around to come up with fresh and innovative ideas and more cranky old people around to pooh pooh the fresh ideas that appear.
- There are more engineers in Japan as compared to the United States, even though the population of the U.S. is twice that of Japan. Japan often leads all the countries of the world in patents. Japanese scientists have filed more patent applications for superconductors as compared to the rest of the world combined. More than 600 have come from the Sumitomo Electric, Japan’s leading manufacturer of electric wires and cables.
- Japan produces more patents per capita as compared to any other nation, almost twice as many as the United States. Patent applications in 2004: 26,946 per 100,000, compared to 5,231 per 100,000 in Germany (highest in Europe). In 2004, Japan applied for more patent applications than other countries according the World Intellectual Property Organization. It filed for 540,100 of the 1,599,000 applications worldwide.The United States(US) had the second most with 346,300. South Korea was third with 157,600. Japan was no. 1 again in the world in patent applications in 2005.Japanese filed for 427,000 patents, the United States was second with 391,000.
- Japanese spend 3.2 percent of GNP on their R&D(Research and Development) compared to 2.7 percent in South Korea and 1.9 percent in Taiwan.