Japan has always been a leader in technology. For more than a half-century, the Japanese government has subsidized corporations that operate in the tech industry, and the effort has paid huge dividends for its economy. In terms of export success and individual company profits, cutting-edge products have been a win-win for politicians and industrialists.
What are the latest offerings from the country that still dominates the niche? In addition to leveraging the power of AI (artificial intelligence) for weather and disaster prediction, Tokyo-based mega-corporations are leading the way in DFS (digital financial services), cryptocurrency innovations, and autonomous vehicle development.
AI for Weather Prediction
Japan’s geographical realities have always led the nation’s best minds to create high-tech solutions for earthquake and hazardous weather prediction. Now, the country’s top innovators are using the power of AI to design advance warning systems that have the potential to alert citizens to the threat of tsunamis, hurricanes, destructive storms, and earthquakes.
Digital financial services were born in Japan if early products count for anything. Some of the early ATMs, online bank accounts, and digital loan applications were developed by Japanese firms. Now that the digitization of financial services is a worldwide phenomenon, Tokyo-based companies continue to be at the forefront of the latest offerings. The COVID pandemic propelled the advancement of DFS in a number of ways.
Since early 2022, many of the biggest Japanese banks have begun offering customers 100 percent digitized services, including checking and savings accounts, retirement planning consultation, full-scale brokerage services, personal banker virtual meetings for miscellaneous customer questions, and payroll savings arrangements.
The banks mail out hard-copy credit and debit cards but are having luck with experimental barcode and QR-based virtual credit cards so customers never have to use physical plastic again. Security is an ongoing concern with the implementation of a total DFS environment, but Tokyo’s major financial institutions are ahead of the curve as usual.
Japan’s national government was slow to respond to the growth of cryptocurrency as a valid payment method and store of value. However, once officials in the Diet (the national legislature) crafted rules about how to handle alternative currencies, the nation embraced the power of cryptocurrency and the new asset class wholeheartedly. Now one of the hemisphere’s premier locations for crypto saving, use, and trading, Japan is home to a range of crypto and blockchain startups and currently hosts more than 30 crypto exchanges.
It makes sense that autonomous vehicle advancements would come out of a nation that is at the epicenter of the auto industry. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are just three of the huge global automakers that originate in Japan. Others include Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mazda, and Suzuki. Self-driving cars, although one of the top tech advancements, are still controversial wherever they’re introduced, primarily due to widespread perceptions about safety and reliability.
However, some of the latest advances in self-driving systems have come out of Japan’s top carmakers. One is an application that offers several levels of auto-drive, including several increments of operation between traditional driving and 100 percent self-driving. Testing is currently taking place with massive fleets of vehicles on huge closed tracks, some of which are the size of small towns.