1. Switzerland Related News

Basel and Toyama to cooperate on pharmaceutical research

BaselArea.swiss, August 27, 2018

The Cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft and the Japanese prefecture of Toyama want to enter into a new cooperation in the field of biotech while strengthening their existing cooperation in the pharmaceutical area. A memorandum of understanding has now been signed to this effect.

2. Science and Technology Policy in Japan

Japan to promote e-payment with subsidies and tax breaks

Nikkei Asian Review, August 21, 2018

The government will consider offering subsidies and tax breaks to encourage businesses to accept electronic payments and other cashless options.

Japan joins race to make flying cars

The Japan Times, August 25, 2018

Japan is making a push to develop flying cars, enlisting companies including Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbus SE to join a public-private panel tasked with making airborne vehicles a Japanese reality in the next decade, people familiar with the matter say.

State to promote low-speed electric buses for tourism, depopulating areas

The Japan Times, August 26, 2018

The government plans to promote low-speed electric buses for tourists and residents in areas with graying populations. The Environment Ministry will make request ¥2 billion for its fiscal 2019 budget starting next April to subsidize purchases of such buses, which run at speeds under 20 kph and carry at least four passengers, the sources said.

Ministry to start R&D for post-5G telecom standard

The Japan News, August 27, 2018

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will start research and development in fiscal 2019 for a new telecommunications standard that will succeed the fifth-generation standard known as 5G, ministry sources have said.

Japan to expand innovation fund to $4bn in AI push

Nikkei Asian Review, August 29, 2018

The government will provide 160 billion yen ($1.44 billion) to a public-private investment fund that has often drawn criticism in its current form as aiding struggling corporations rather than supporting new industries.

3. Education

Japan's first new medical school in four decades aims to be Asia hub

Nikkei Asian Review, August 13, 2018

Cracking Japan's rigid medical system is not a task for the meek. A new medical school had not opened in Japan since 1979 until last year when one broke a 38-year hiatus. That new school, founded by a prominent hospital chain operator and an outspoken critic of the nation's vested interests and red tape in the medical system, is now actively scouting students from across Asia with an ambitious goal: becoming an Asian medical hub.

Japan to nurture young scientists by integrating high school, university education programs: sources

The Japan Times, August 27, 2018

Plans are afoot to help talented Japanese math and science students grow into leading researchers by integrating some of the nation’s high school and university programs from the next academic year, sources said Monday.

Japan turns to classroom robots in bid to boost English skills

The Japan Times, August 29, 2018

English-speaking robots will be helping out in some 500 Japanese classrooms from next year as the country seeks to improve English skills among both children and teachers using artificial intelligence.

4. Life Science / Health Care

Japan plans 10 'AI hospitals' to ease doctor shortages

Nikkei Asian Review, August 09, 2018

The Japanese government is teaming up with businesses and academia to set up hospitals enhanced by artificial intelligence, seeking to allow short-handed doctors to spend more time on patient care while curbing medical spending.

Students develop fertilizer from shōchū distillation remnants

The Japan Times, August 21, 2018

Students in Kumamoto Prefecture have developed a low-cost method to cultivate photosynthetic bacteria for use as fertilizer using the distillation remnants of shōchū, a traditional Japanese liquor.

Herbal meds to be studied via big data

The Japan News, August 25, 2018

The government plans to use big data to examine the efficacy and side effects of Chinese herbal medicine, known as kampo in Japanese, as early as next year, collecting information on about 1 million recipients per medication for analysis, according to sources.

Geographical pattern of nation’s mortality to be mapped

The Japan News, August 28, 2018

The government will launch a system to map the distribution of people’s deaths by causes, such as diseases and accidents. By understanding mortality trends on a regional basis and carefully analyzing the causes, the government aims to come up with effective measures in the field of preventive care and improve public health. The mapping system is expected to start by the end of this fiscal year.

Omron develops wristwatch-style blood-pressure monitor

The Japan News, August 29, 2018

Omron Corp. has developed a wristwatch-style device capable of minutely measuring blood pressure, targeting middle-aged and elderly people who aim to improve their lifestyle habits.

5. Nano and Micro Technology / Material Science

In race for better batteries, Japan hopes to extend its lead

Nikkei Asian Review, August 15, 2018

Imagine electric cars that can travel 700km to 800km on a single charge, twice as far as they do today. Imagine batteries that are smaller, safer and pack more punch than the lithium-ion cells that power our gadgets now.

6. Information & Communications Technology

Japan Display plans foray into consumer markets with smart motorcycle helmets and mirrors

The Japan Times, August 01, 2018

Japan Display Inc. said Wednesday it will expand its business portfolio by launching new products for consumers, aiming to maximize the advantage of its technologies while gaining new sources of revenue.

Govt report: Labor market must cope with effects of AI

The Japan News, August 04, 2018

A government report released Friday highlighted the need to address the effects of artificial intelligence and other technological innovations on the country’s labor market.

Facial ID system unveiled for Games

The Japan News, August 08, 2018

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and NEC Corp. showed the press Tuesday a facial recognition system to be used during the 2020 Games for identifying athletes, officials and others related to the event.

NTT seeks post-mobile growth with all-in-one IT unit

Nikkei Asian Review, August 08, 2018

Hard-pressed to keep growing in a fast-changing communications sector, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone will create a new comprehensive information technology company in its first major reorganization since 1999.

Hospitals in Japan turn to high-tech to treat language barriers

Nikkei Asian Review, August 14, 2018

As the number of foreign patients in Japan grows, companies are racing to develop multilingual products and services to help hospitals cope with the inevitable language barriers.

Hitachi to launch AI analysis of hospital leftovers to hasten inpatient recovery

The Japan Times, August 20, 2018

A unit of Hitachi Ltd. will launch a new venture that uses artificial intelligence to analyze the leftovers of carefully planned hospital meals to ensure patients get the nutrients needed to better facilitate recovery, company officials said Monday.

Fujitsu to boost its supercomputing speed 100 times

Nikkei Asian Review, August 23, 2018

Fujitsu unveiled key specifications on Wednesday for its newest supercomputer as the company seeks to catch up with American and Chinese rivals in the global speed race.

Threatened by emerging technologies, Nikon unveils full-frame mirrorless cameras to keep Sony at bay

The Japan Times, August 23, 2018

In a long-awaited event livestreamed worldwide, Nikon Corp. unveiled its first full-frame mirrorless camera system Thursday, finally entering a segment that is still growing despite the explosive proliferation of camera-equipped smartphones.

Driver-monitoring cameras help prevent accidents

The Japan News, August 28, 2018

Carmakers, among other companies, are competing to develop systems that can detect a driver’s state to avoid accidents caused by distracted or drowsy driving.

Government developing AI tech to monitor suspicious activity at sea

The Japan News, August 31, 2018

The government is working to develop technology that will fully utilize artificial intelligence to detect suspicious vessels, according to sources.

Japan's tech firms double down on cryptocurrency industry

Nikkei Asian Review, August 31, 2018

The fall in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and Japan's crackdown on the industry in the wake of a hacking scandal in January, have not deterred some of Japan's biggest technology companies from doubling down on the industry.

7. Software / Mobile Services & Applications

Gree-owned firm launches app aimed at boosting Japan’s booming world of ‘virtual YouTubers’

The Japan Times, August 07, 2018

An app offering livestreamed videos featuring virtual stars debuted Tuesday with the aim of accelerating Japan’s emerging world of avatar entertainers.

Taxi dispatch apps vie for riders

The Japan News, August 28, 2018

Competition is intensifying among smartphone app-based taxi dispatch services. Domestic taxi operators are accelerating their partnership with different business sectors, such as information technology and manufacturing companies, to increase their convenience such as by introducing new apps that utilize artificial intelligence.

8. Energy / Environment

Japan to host one of world's largest biomass power plants

Nikkei Asian Review, August 14, 2018

Power supplier eRex will build its largest biomass power plant to date in Japan, hoping the facility's scale will provide healthy margins and a means of skipping the government's feed-in tariff program.

Japanese government panel begins discussions on reducing plastic waste

The Japan Times, August 17, 2018

A government panel began discussions Friday on setting a strategy to sharply cut plastic waste amid rising international concern over the marine pollution it causes.

Mitsubishi Heavy to introduce world's largest wind turbine

Nikkei Asian Review, August 17, 2018

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is working on the world's largest offshore wind turbine, one with output capable of reaching 10,000kW, and could install it as early as 2020.

JMA to launch new weather system to predict heavy rains

The Japan News, August 19, 2018

The Japan Meteorological Agency plans to launch a new weather forecast system by 2030 in response to the frequent occurrence of heavy rain and other natural disasters, according to sources. The new system will predict the occurrence of line-shaped rain systems that produce heavy downpours half a day in advance, as well as heat and cold waves and other weather events.

Japan and China agree to set common charging standards for EVs

Nikkei Asian Review, August 22, 2018

Industry groups in Japan and China agreed Wednesday to create a common charging standard for electric vehicles.

Govt to monitor microplastic pollution with AI device

The Japan News, August 27, 2018

The science ministry plans to develop a new device to monitor microplastics in the sea using artificial intelligence and other technologies, according to informed sources.

Zero-energy condos spring up across Japan

Nikkei Asian Review, August 29, 2018

About 1,500 so-called zero-energy apartments are slated for construction in Japan by 2021, as developers expand the advanced building concept beyond detached homes.

9. Space Development

JAXA to send landing probe to moon

The Japan News, August 04, 2018

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, plans to launch a small lunar landing probe on an H-2A rocket in fiscal 2021.

Future space elevator test takes place

The Japan News, August 16, 2018

A test for an envisaged space elevator to link Earth and a space station was conducted Tuesday at the Fukushima Robot Test Field in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Satellites aimed at preventing space collisions under review

The Japan News, August 18, 2018

The government is considering introducing space situational awareness (SSA) satellites to protect Japanese satellites from collisions with space debris and interference by satellites operated by other nations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Company serious about launching rockets

The Japan News, August 18, 2018

Domestic venture companies and companies from different industries are taking steps to enter the space development industry. One standout among them is a new company led by Canon Electronics Inc.

10. Engineering / Robotics / Automotive

Hot-wheeled ‘child’ makes debut in android world

The Japan News, August 03, 2018

A childlike android that can move freely on four wheels has been shown to the press for the first time at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Koto Ward, Tokyo.

Chatty multilingual robot assists guests at hotels in Japan

Nikkei Asian Review, August 09, 2018

A little robot is being groomed to help with front desk duties at hotels in Japan as the country gears up to host a surge in visitors for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

JR East planning driverless trains

The Japan News, August 14, 2018

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) is considering the introduction of unmanned, self-driving operations on the Tohoku Shinkansen, Yamanote and other lines, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Drone manufacturers set to launch certification system

The Japan News, August 24, 2018

An association of domestic manufacturers of industrial-use drones will launch a safety certification system for unmanned aerial vehicles by the end of this year, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Robots controlled by disabled to serve visitors

The Japan News, August 24, 2018

The Nippon Foundation, a charity group, said Wednesday that it will run an experimental coffee shop where visitors will be served by robots remotely controlled by people with severe physical disabilities, including patients of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Balloon-like robot ‘hand’ able to grab sharp objects

The Japan News, August 25, 2018

A fingerless inflatable robot “hand” has been developed that can grab knives, broken metal pieces and other objects of various shapes and sizes that can be dangerous for humans to handle.

World's first autonomous taxi starts operating in Tokyo

Nikkei Asian Review, August 27, 2018

The world's first autonomous taxi to run on public roads started operating in central Tokyo on Monday.

Team Toyota gears up for self-driving, electric new world

Nikkei Asian Review, August 28, 2018

Four Toyota Motor group businesses including Denso debuted an automated-driving joint venture Monday, as new technologies altering the auto industry's landscape prompt greater cooperation among companies and across fields.

Practical use of self-driving cars speeding up in business field

The Japan News, August 29, 2018

The move toward applications of self-driving technology, which enable vehicles to operate without drivers, in commercial vehicles is gaining traction. In Tokyo, self-driving taxis that transport passengers for a fee are being trialed. A serious shortage of taxi drivers lies behind the move but the development of laws and regulations to deal with accidents and other issues is still lacking.

Uber shortlists Japan as a candidate country to test flying taxis

The Japan Times, August 30, 2018

Uber Technologies Inc. said Thursday it will choose a city from one of five countries, including Japan, to test flying taxi services that the ride-hailing firm aims to launch commercially in 2023.

Japan panel on developing flying cars holds 1st meeting

The Japan News, August 31, 2018

A Japanese public-private panel held its first meeting on Wednesday, discussing how to realize flying cars, now attracting attention as a future transportation means.

11. Physics and Nuclear Development

Nobel laureates want particle collider in Japan

NHK World - Japan, August 06, 2018

Nobel laureates have called for a next-generation particle accelerator to be built in Japan to study the origins of the universe.

New nuclear reactor being built in western Japan applies for safety checks

Kyodo News, August 10, 2018

Chugoku Electric Power Co. on Friday applied to the government for safety screening of a nuclear reactor it is constructing, opening up the possibility of it becoming Japan's first newly built reactor to go into operation since the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

Japanese firms in talks over alliance on nuclear power: sources

The Japan Times, August 22, 2018

Two major utilities and a pair of power plant manufacturers are considering a four-way alliance on nuclear power operations, sources said Wednesday, as the industry grapples with rising costs related to decommissioning and safety.

Work by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to remove fuel from Monju reactor begins

The Japan Times, August 30, 2018

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency started work on the removal of nuclear fuel assemblies Thursday at its Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

12. Startups

Kyoto electric car startup to rent core components for parts testing

Nikkei Asian Review, August 14, 2018

Japanese electric car startup GLM will rent out core components to aid in developing parts, making it easier for newcomers to enter the auto industry.

Japanese startup cultivates e-money platform for Asian farmers

Nikkei Asian Review, August 15, 2018

Japanese startup Nippon Biodiesel Fuel is set to launch its AgriNet website that connects farmers with other sectors -- such as agrimarkets, equipment dealers and banks -- transforming the way agricultural regions do business.

Japan's shogi champ makes all the right moves as AI startup hits stratosphere

The Japan Times, August 22, 2018

Takahiro Hayashi won his first nationwide title in shogi while still in high school and by the age of 22 he was the world amateur champion. His coaches were urging him to turn pro. But Hayashi wanted to be an entrepreneur, not a shogi player. So in 2009, he found himself in a room with local venture capitalists, presenting a 120-page pitch about his social game firm. The financiers tuned out.

13. Intellectual Property Rights / Technology Transfer / Alliances

Japanese utilities buy into vast offshore wind farm in UK

Nikkei Asian Review, August 12, 2018

Two of Japan's biggest power companies will buy around 40% of a German-owned developer of offshore wind farms in the U.K., seeking to learn from Britain's lead in this sector and bring the know-how back home.

Intellectual property arbitral body to open

The Japan News, August 15, 2018

A permanent international arbitration body specializing in intellectual property is to be established in Japan as early as September under the cooperation of Japanese, European, U.S. and other experts, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

SoftBank and Thai telecom firm to launch cheap, fast internet exchange service

The Japan Times, August 16, 2018

SoftBank Group Corp. and True Corporation Public Co. Ltd., Thailand’s telecommunications conglomerate, have teamed up to launch an internet exchange service with the aim of capitalizing on growing digital data traffic in the country.

Japan enjoys 30% jump in intellectual property trade surplus

Nikkei Asian Review, August 21, 2018

Corporate Japan took in 1.5 trillion yen ($13.6 billion) more from use of its intellectual property overseas than it spent for the half-year ended June 30, a 30% jump on the year, driven chiefly by the drug and automobile sectors.

SoftBank Group invests in U.S. ride-sharing service

The Japan News, August 23, 2018

SoftBank Group Corp. is leading a $300 million funding round into Getaround, a San Francisco-based car-sharing service.

Toyota to pump $500m more into Uber

Nikkei Asian Review, August 28, 2018

Toyota Motor on Tuesday announced it will invest an additional $500 million in Uber Technologies, in a move aimed at expanding its partnership with the American ride-hailing company beyond vehicle leasing to the development of self-driving cars.

14. General Interest

Convenience stores extend reach into health-care products, services

The Japan News, August 10, 2018

Convenience store chains are offering more health-related products and services, in a bid to counter the growing trend of drugstores becoming more like convenience stores by selling products such as bento boxed meals.

Government panel proposes allowing Japanese expats to vote online using My Number ID cards

The Japan Times, August 10, 2018

A government panel said Friday it would be feasible to introduce an online voting system for Japanese expatriates to participate in national elections.

Japan watchmakers focus harder on luxury

Nikkei Asian Review, August 13, 2018

Japanese watch manufacturers are refining high-end offerings to shield themselves from competition from smartwatches and catch up with the Europeans.

Number of passengers at rail stations in rush hour could double during 2020 Olympics: study

The Japan Times, August 14, 2018

People traveling to venues of the 2020 Tokyo Games at the same time as commuters are heading to work are expected to cause serious congestion at railway stations in the metropolitan area during morning rush hours, a researcher has warned.

Students at Japan high school developing cream to prevent jellyfish stings

The Japan Times, August 15, 2018

The aquarium club at a public high school in Ehime Prefecture has developed a prototype for a cream that prevents jellyfish stings, with a goal of releasing the product in February with help from a private company.

Govt to set up online cultural database

The Japan News, August 17, 2018

The government will integrate the databases that libraries and museums are separately operating at present, and create a website to enable the consolidated search of various catalogs and locations online.

Drone-flying is newest addition to Japan's driving schools

Nikkei Asian Review, August 26, 2018

An increasing number of driving schools in Japan are offering drone-flying lessons. As the commercial uses for unmanned flying vehicles are quickly increasing, the new service could be an answer to a potential shortfall of drone pilots, as well as to shrinking demand for driving lessons.

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The information in this newsletter is an opinion excerpt of news material from Japan and gathered to the best knowledge of the writer. The newsletter tries to provide information without any news preferences, and takes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information. No legal liability or responsibility can be taken. The information is provided for informational purposes only. No part of the newsletter may be used for any commercial or public use. Open disclosure of this newsletter is not permitted.