1. Switzerland Related News

Obuchi Lab of U of Tokyo visits Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

Science & Technology Office Tokyo, April 01, 2017

A group of students and staff from the Obuchi Laboratory of the Department of Architecture, the University of Tokyo visited Gramazio Kohler Research of ETH Zurich early spring as part of the strategic partnership initiative between the two universities.

NCCR D-Fab, ETH Zurich and T-ADS (U of Tokyo) presenting in Mutations-Créations / Imprimer le monde exhibition, Paris

Science & Technology Office Tokyo, April 09, 2017

The works of National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication hosted at ETH Zurich and the University of Tokyo Advanced Design Studies Unit (T-ADS) are exhibited in the ongoing “Mutations – Créations / Imprimer le monde (Printing the World)” exhibition at the Centre Pomipidou in Paris.

Technology and social inclusion – the Cybathlon approach, featured in Tokyo

Science & Technology Office Tokyo, April 17, 2017

The efforts of Cybathlon, a Swiss invention, to connect not only technology experts with the disabled but also to bring them together with the public, was highlighted in Tokyo in front of media, industry experts and the general public. The event “Technology and Social Inclusion – the Cybathlon Approach” was held on 17 April at the Cité du Temps Ginza, Nicolas G. Hayek Center, Tokyo, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose representative Mr. Pascal Hundt, Head of Assistance Division presented the Committee’s global humanitarian efforts. The division has led ICRC’s new research and development program in cooperation with EPFL called the Humanitarian Tech Hub.

3rd Swiss Medtech Pavilion at MEDTEC Japan 2017

Science & Technology Office Tokyo, April 19, 2017

Swiss excellence in the medtech field was presented during 19-21 April, 2017 at MEDTEC Japan, Asia’s largest trade-show dedicated to the design and manufacturing of medical devices. The Swiss Medtech Pavilion at the expo featured laboratories and spin-offs from ETH Zurich and EPFL, as well as a public-private partnership and industry presenting technologies for medical equipment and healthcare solutions. The co-exhibitors, namely CSEM, BioAlps, Micronarc, BW-TEC, Micro Systems Technologies, Sulzer Mixpac,  VirtaMed, Cybathlon, ExoSuisse, TWIICE and Varileg, are mostly repeaters to the Pavilion as they enjoy additional attention under the Swiss umbrella at this event that is well-attended by serious professionals.

2. Science and Technology Policy in Japan

Revised reactor law lets nuclear regulators conduct surprise inspections

The Japan Times, April 07, 2017

The Diet passed a sweeping nuclear inspection reform to allow regulators to conduct unannounced inspections of nuclear plants and give them unlimited access to needed data.

NPA drafts rules for testing driverless cars on public roads

The Japan Times, April 13, 2017

The National Police Agency unveiled draft rules for testing driverless vehicles on public roads while the vehicles are being monitored remotely.

Japan to propel private sector's liftoff into space

Nikkei Asian Review, April 24, 2017

Japan will support private companies' push into the space business by facilitating public lending and offering assistance to cover financial damages from catastrophic accidents.

3. Education

University of Tokyo leads new Japan ranking of higher education institutions

The Japan Times, April 04, 2017

The University of Tokyo was crowned the nation's top university for teaching and learning environments in a first-ever Japan ranking by the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine, with Tohoku University in Miyagi Prefecture coming in second and Kyoto University placing third.

Higher education keeps overreaching

The Japan Times, April 08, 2017

The high school graduating class of 2018 will be smaller than the class of 2017; this eventuality, though predicted some time ago, is making the government and the education industry nervous.

Education funding sparks row

The Japan News, April 16, 2017

How should the government secure revenue for education? Should the cost be shouldered by current or future generations? Debate on these issues is heating up within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

4. Life Science / Health Care

Firms inject funds into biopharmaceuticals

The Japan News, April 04, 2017

Japanese drugmakers, smaller in scale than the big pharma giants of Europe and the United States, need to adopt strategies of pursuing research and development on a select range of promising targets.

Brain disorder cause of gambling addiction, study shows

The Japan Times, April 05, 2017

Compulsive gambling can be attributed to a brain disorder that renders addicts incapable of determining appropriate risk, a Japanese research group has found.

When it comes to health info, online 'fake news' can have serious repercussions

The Japan Times, April 05, 2017

A recent fake news scandal involving IT giant DeNA Co. shows how quickly bogus health information can make the rounds online.

Interview: Landmark surgery a step forward for iPS, says Nobel laureate

Nikkei Asian Review, April 05, 2017

A team of Japanese doctors last week performed landmark surgery that transplanted stocked, donated induced pluripotent stem, or iPS cells, into a patient with an intractable eye disease.

iPS cell stockpiling system brings treatment closer to patients

Nikkei Asian Review, April 17, 2017

Japanese researchers performed the world's first transplant of retina cells made from donor-derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into a patient's eye late last month.

Kyushu University-launched venture eyes cancer tests using worms by 2019

The Japan Times, April 21, 2017

Kyushu University-launched venture Hirotsu Bio Science Inc. and Hitachi Ltd. have said they will conduct joint research to put cancer tests using nematodes into practical use as early as 2019.

Todai-linked venture developing technology for speedy home flu test

The Japan Times, April 26, 2017

Every winter, people running a fever and complaining of muscle pain swarm the nation’s clinics, suspecting one thing: the flu – what if you could get a flu diagnosis at home, with something as easy as a pregnancy test kit?

5. Nano and Micro Technology / Material Science

Japan Aviation develops connectors for comfortable wearables

Nikkei Asian Review, April 25, 2017

Japan Aviation Electronics Industry has developed a thin connector with improved elasticity for wearable devices that are attached to clothing.

Nippon Paper places big bet on cellulose nanofiber

Nikkei Asian Review, April 26, 2017

The shift from print to electronic media driven by the internet revolution has hit the paper industry hard, and Japan's second-largest player is now putting its hopes in an emerging new material.

6. Information & Communications Technology

Subliminal ads fast-tracked for maglev trains in Japan

The Japan Times, April 01, 2017

A team of researchers at Shizuoka University is hitching a ride on Japan's bullet train technology, aiming to transmit targeted advertising at high speeds.

Japan to urge businesses to share big data

Nikkei Asian Review, April 03, 2017

Japan will encourage companies to share big data they collect, so that businesses can better cooperate on developing new products and services in the age of the "internet of things" instead of keeping all the information to themselves.

AI will never replace human interaction, forum speakers say

The Japan Times, April 05, 2017

Will there be a time in the not-so-distant future when people won't need to learn a second language, instead relying on machine translation powered by artificial intelligence to interpret real-time conversations?

Kabu.com to offer retail investors AI-based trading services

Nikkei Asian Review, April 06, 2017

Japan's Kabu.com Securities will launch an artificial intelligence service in May that helps retail investors choose stocks to buy and sell.

Tokyo IT firm taps 3-D technology to offer perfect-fitting shoes

The Japan Times, April 14, 2017

Tokyo-based information technology firm Flickfit Inc. is developing service that virtually fits shoes to a person’s feet using 3-D scans.

MUFG to launch AI-based business consulting service

Nikkei Asian Review, April 17, 2017

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group will develop a business consulting service that mines data from its bank accounts and social networking sites to uncover trending consumer services and products for its clients.

Japan convenience stores plan next generation of self-checkout

Nikkei Asian Review, April 18, 2017

Seven-Eleven Japan and four other major convenience store operators in the country will introduce self-checkout registers that can read the prices of items that are still in a basket, the latest effort to cope with a severe lack of manpower.

Sony to launch high-speed, silent, mirrorless camera

The Japan Times, April 24, 2017

Sony Corp. will launch a mirrorless single-lens digital camera capable of photographing silently at high speed, targeting professionals and bird watchers who want to shoot without distracting their subjects.

Japan looks to AI to simplify patent screening

Nikkei Asian Review, April 24, 2017

Japan plans to begin using artificial intelligence technology to process patent, trademark and design applications, automating such cumbersome tasks as literature reviews.

Japan banks to test blockchain-based money transfers

Nikkei Asian Review, April 27, 2017

A consortium of Japanese banks will experiment with fund transfers using virtual currencies, with an eye toward developing a more convenient, lower-cost alternative to wiring money.

7. Software / Mobile Services & Applications

Japanese insurer will pay you for walking

Nikkei Asian Review, April 02, 2017

Docomo is partnering with a Tokyo Marine Group unit to roll out a new type of medical insurance this summer.

Japanese retailers quickly embracing bitcoin payments

Nikkei Asian Review, April 05, 2017

Two Japanese retailing groups soon will accept bitcoin payments, a move that is likely to promote wider use of the virtual currency among domestic consumers.

Hospitals test AI to translate consultations with patients

The Japan News, April 10, 2017

About 20 hospitals nationwide will begin a test of an automated translation system used exclusively in medical contexts from this fiscal year, as part of efforts to help foreign visitors feel safe in visiting medical institutes in Japan.

Hackers exploit Japan's army of mobile gamers with fake rewards

The Japan Times, April 18, 2017

Gamers beware: hackers offering free virtual trinkets don’t care about your passwords or personal data – they are after your employer’s most closely guarded secrets.

Interpretation device to help medical staff, tourists

The Japan News, April 19, 2017

An automatic interpretation system tailored to emergency medical procedures has been developed by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology.

Fujitsu shifts gears toward network management technology

Nikkei Asian Review, April 22, 2017

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu will triple its spending on research and development for network management technology to 15 billion yen ($137 million) over three years.

Japan venture develops case to curb kids' smartphone addiction

The Japan Times, April 25, 2017

Japanese venture has developed a smartphone case designed to help parents protect their children from becoming addicted to the mobile devices.

Docomo eyes pivot to services as 'peak smartphone' looms

Nikkei Asian Review, April 28, 2017

Docomo will focus on realizing the potential of fifth-generation mobile technology beyond smartphones with new services under a four-year strategy unveiled Thursday.

8. Energy / Environment

Global climate change vs. coral reefs

Nikkei Asian Review, April 01, 2017

Japanese and Israeli scientists recently held collaborative workshops in Okinawa, where they exchanged views on the impact that global-scale climate changes are having on coral reef ecosystems.

60% of new utilities object to helping pay Fukushima compensation

The Japan Times, April 02, 2017

More than 60 percent of major new entrants to the electric power industry object to the government's plan for them to shoulder some of the compensation costs stemming from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a recent survey showed.

LNG to light way for brighter future

The Japan Times, April 04, 2017

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is one of the major players in promoting the clean energy movement of various industries, and Japan leads the way in the development and application of LNG technology in countless fields.

Japan-led research group preparing to drill down to the mantle

The Japan News, April 04, 2017

Aiming for the world's first-ever direct excavation of the Earth's mantle, an international research group led by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) will conduct a preliminary study in the waters off Hawaii in September.

Japan to conduct second test to produce gas from methane hydrate

The Japan Times, April 10, 2017

The trade ministry said it has begun preparations for a second production test to extract methane gas from methane hydrate deposits off Japan’s central coast.

Japan's farmers turn to biogas tech to turn waste into watts, profits

The Japan Times, April 17, 2017

Some Japanese farmers have begun looking to biogas technology to allow them to turn their properties into power plants, giving them a way to transform animal and other waste into profits.

In collaboration with Starbucks, Kobe brews a renewable energy source

The Japan Times, April 23, 2017

Last December, as part of a local effort to increase alternative energy sources, the city teamed up with Starbucks and researchers at Kindai University to carry out tests on producing biomass fuel generated from, among other things, used coffee grounds.

SoftBank plans vast new Japan solar farm, batteries included

Nikkei Asian Review, April 28, 2017

SoftBank Group plans to build another large solar power plant in northern Japan, this time equipped with ample battery storage to better integrate the renewable energy output into the local grid.

Japan's largest fossilized dinosaur skeleton unearthed in Hokkaido

The Japan Times, April 28, 2017

Japanese researchers said Thursday they have unearthed the remains of an 8-meter-long Hadrosaurid, dating from around 72 million years ago, in the mountains of Hokkaido, making it the largest fossilized dinosaur skeleton discovered in the country.

9. Space Development

Unraveling the mysteries of black holes

Nikkei Asian Review, April 01, 2017

An international team of researchers is set to launch an ambitious project in April to observe a supermassive black hole.

France and Japan working on Martian mission to sample Phobos

The Japan Times, April 14, 2017

France and Japan want to collect pieces of a Martian moon and bring them back to Earth, the head of France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) said.

Japan to launch record 8 rockets in fiscal 2017

Nikkei Asian Review, April 17, 2017

The number of rockets Japan will launch for its key space projects will total a record figure of eight in fiscal 2017.

From Tottori dunes to the moon, Japan's Xprize team hopes to win lunar rover race

The Japan Times, April 23, 2017

A private-sector group of some 100 engineers and other experts is finalizing preparations to launch a lunar probe, hoping to achieve the first feat in Japan’s history of space exploration.

10. Engineering / Robotics / Automotive

Toyota lets AI loose on hunt for cheaper fuel cells

The Japan Times, April 01, 2017

Toyota Motor Corp. is betting the keys to longer-range electric cars and cheaper fuel cells may lie in machines that act like humans.

Exclusive: Pratt, 3 Japanese partners to make engines for mid-range jetliners

Nikkei Asian Review, April 02, 2017

A trio of Japanese heavy machinery makers has agreed with U.S. engine maker Pratt & Whitney to develop engines for the next generation of mid-range passenger jets.

Oita Prefecture embarks on 'smart forestry' initiative

The Japan Times, April 06, 2017

With forestry workers growing older, Oita Prefecture has embarked on a “smart forestry” initiative to reduce workloads, partly through the use of drones.

Japanese engineers develop robotic arm made of helium balloons

Nikkei Asian Review, April 09, 2017

A team of engineers led by Koichi Suzumori, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, has invented a multijoint robotic arm made of helium gas balloons.

In rural Japan, battery-powered trains emerge as cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative

The Japan Times, April 09, 2017

Railway operators in rural Japan are replacing diesel-guzzling trains with new battery-powered rolling stock, taking advantage of the low-maintenance, environmentally friendly modern technology to cut costs and emissions.

Japan ahead in race to standardize car-use battery tech

Nikkei Asian Review, April 10, 2017

Automakers are in a heated competition to get electric vehicles to go farther on a single charge. But the key to whether these cars go mainstream is in the pocket of Japanese parts makers.

Robotics whiz envisions prosthetic limbs for all

The Japan Times, April 10, 2017

Masahiro Kasuya develops prosthetic hands that move intuitively in response to bioelectric signals, subtle charges released by the muscles when people move their limbs.

Tottori venture touts simulated patient for budding medical professionals

The Japan Times, April 12, 2017

Meet mikoto, a next-generation medical simulation robot developed for students, young doctors and emergency care workers so they can get hands-on training without the risk of harming actual patients.

Toyota demonstrates robotic leg brace to help paralyzed people walk

The Japan Times, April 12, 2017

The Welwalk WW-1000 system is made up of a motorized mechanical frame that fits on a person’s leg from the knee down; the patients can practice walking wearing the robotic device on a special treadmill that can support their weight.

Japan's GLM aims to be 'the Ferrari of electric vehicles'

Nikkei Asian Review, April 19, 2017

A high-performance luxury electric vehicle under development by Japanese automaker GLM will lead the company's charge into foreign markets.

Bridgestone Cycle announces punctureless bicycle tires

Nikkei Asian Review, April 21, 2017

Bridgestone Cycle could have cyclists walking on air with the announcement of its punctureless tires. Developed jointly with parent company Bridgestone, the new bicycle tire does not need air, thus never punctures.

Fanuc to spend $566m to lift robot output in Japan

Nikkei Asian Review, April 28, 2017

Fanuc will build a new plant for industrial robots in Ibaraki Prefecture to respond to voracious demand from Chinese manufacturers.

11. Physics and Nuclear Development

Government, Tepco appeal negligence ruling in 3/11 nuclear crisis

The Japan Times, April 01, 2017

The central government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have appealed a court ruling that found them negligent for taking insufficient measures to deal with March 2011 quake and tsunami.

Saga governor green-lights restart of Genkai nuclear reactors

The Japan Times, April 24, 2017

Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi approved the restart of two reactors at the Genkai nuclear power plant, with each scheduled to go online as early as this summer.

Kansai Electric seeks mid-May restart for two Fukui reactors

The Japan Times, April 25, 2017

Kansai Electric Power Co. said it will seek to restart its two idled reactors in Fukui Prefecture starting in mid-May.

12. Startups

Sumitomo Mitsui to launch biometric ID venture

Nikkei Asian Review, April 01, 2017

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group will develop a way for consumers to verify their identity using their fingerprints or voice when making online payments, taking advantage of looser restrictions on Japanese banks' ability to invest in financial technology businesses.

Drawing on Seattle startup revolution, Fukuoka angling to be entrepreneur hub

The Japan Times, April 07, 2017

Fukuoka is the fastest-growing major city in Japan outside of the capital, which has been steadily draining talent and workers from the rest of the country for decades.

Japan startups seeing cash but few innovators

The Japan Times, April 12, 2017

Japan Inc., where companies with roots going back decades, if not centuries, have long dominated, is finally warming up to startups – still, Japan needs a change of “mindset.”

13. Intellectual Property Rights / Technology Transfer / Alliances

Japan's key TV networks to band together on online streaming

Nikkei Asian Review, April 01, 2017

All five major commercial television networks in Japan have agreed to jointly develop a system that will serve as the bedrock for simultaneous broadcasting of TV programs over the air and the Internet.

Public-private consortium mulled to bid for Toshiba's chip unit as security concerns mount

The Japan Times, April 08, 2017

Talks about forming a public-private consortium to buy a major stake in Toshiba Corp.’s flash memory business are underway, informed sources say.

Sharp mulls jointly investing in Toshiba chip unit with Hon Hai

The Japan Times, April 19, 2017

Sharp Corp. is considering a joint bid with parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., to invest in embattled Toshiba Corp.’s memory chip business, a Sharp executive said.

Western Digital makes case for taking over Toshiba chip unit

The Japan Times, April 21, 2017

Western Digital Corp. is making a forceful case for its bid to take control of Toshiba Corp.’s memory-chip business amid a fierce bidding war.

Ahead of next iPhone, Idemitsu Kosan leads way after developing OLED screen

The Japan Times, April 24, 2017

As Apple Inc. prepares to introduce a new smartphone with an OLED screen, a Japanese refiner better known for its chain of gas stations is about to join the list.

14. General Interest

Democratic Party to use VR program to simulate harsh Diet grillings carried out by Renho

The Japan Times, April 01, 2017

The Democratic Party exhibited in an April event a virtual reality program that gives participants a glimpse of how it feels to be grilled by DP leader Renho in her trademark harsh questioning style.

Future Suica card system to facilitate inbound tourism in Japan

The Japan Times, April 05, 2017

Foreign tourists will be able to use Suica travel cards to check in at hotels and purchase tax-free goods under a new system developed by the government and private-sector firms.

Japan city taps ninja legend to woo overseas tourists

The Japan Times, April 07, 2017

Tourists traveling to Japan who wish to familiarize themselves with ninja, Japan’s feudal mercenaries, can find its heart and soul in a museum located in Iga, Mie Prefecture, dedicated to the history of the ninja.

WHO backs health ministry's proposal to ban smoking in public areas

The Japan Times, April 08, 2017

Japan should ban smoking in all public places if it wants to successfully host the Tokyo Olympics and promote tourism, a senior World Health Organization official said in Tokyo.

Japan's population projected to plunge to 88 million by 2065

The Japan Times, April 10, 2017

The population of Japan is expected to plunge to 88.08 million in 2065, marking a roughly 30 percent fall from the 2015 level, a government-affiliated research institute said.

Bilingual traffic signs to debut in July

The Japan Times, April 13, 2017

Japan will introduce bilingual traffic signs in July as visitors surge ahead of Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

Foreigners streaming into Japan at record pace

Nikkei Asian Review, April 15, 2017

The net inflow of foreign residents into Japan was the largest ever during the last statistical year, as the government pushes policies to attract foreign workers to lessen the economic repercussions from a declining and graying population.

July 24 will be 'day of telework' as Japan seeks to ease traffic congestion ahead of 2020 Olympics

The Japan Times, April 18, 2017

The government has designated this July 24 as “the day of telework” in a bid to encourage people to work from home and test out the impact on traffic congestion ahead of the 2020 Olympics, which will open on July 24 of that year.

Language barriers at Japanese medical institutions put foreign patients at risk: expert

The Japan Times, April 19, 2017

Here’s a little-known, unnerving truth about health care in Japan: for non-Japanese, the death rate is higher than that for Japanese.

Launch yourself into space from Tsukuba

The Japan News, April 19, 2017

The Tsukuba Space Center of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, is a core facility for the country’s space development and a great place for space lovers.

Efforts underway to better support foreign nationals in times of disaster

The Japan Times, April 20, 2017

Efforts are underway by local governments across the nation to support non-Japanese in times of natural disaster as the number of foreign nationals living in Japan continues to grow.

NTT Docomo to allow works to split day between home and office

The Japan Times, April 21, 2017

Docomo Inc. plans to allow employees to combine working from home and the office as part of its work style reforms.

20-year-old sets new age record for exploring

The Japan News, April 30, 2017

A Waseda University junior has recently become the youngest adventurer to achieve the Explorers Grand Slam, conquering the highest peaks on the seven continents and reach the North and South Poles.

15. Calls

QMol Conference 2017

Call for abstracts to the forthcoming conference: Operating Quantum States in Atoms and Molecules at Surfaces (QMol 2017) which will be held on September 10-14, 2017 at Monte Verita in Ascona, Switzerland. This conference provides a unique venue in which 35 outstanding invited speakers will give a scholarly presentation about their most recent scientific progress. For further information and abstract submission, please visit http://www.qmol.ch/

Scientific Exchanges: new funding scheme for international events and visits

The SNSF is optimising its support for international exchanges between researchers by merging its existing funding schemes Scientific conferences, International Exploratory Workshops and International Short Visits into a single scheme known as Scientific Exchanges. Funding is eligible for Swiss researchers visiting host institutions abroad, as well as for international researchers visiting Switzerland. For more details, please visit http://www.snf.ch/en/funding/science-communication/scientific-exchanges/Pages/default.aspx

More events on the Japan Science and Technology Office homepage: Check it Now!

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.