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Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko invited the participation of the Indian software sector in developing solutions for Society 5.0.
“Society 5.0 marks the arrival of an era where IoT, big-data and AI provide a solution to societial challenges. We would like to involve potential of the Indian software sector to develop solutions to this challenge. Global society will also face this challenge,” said Hiroshige Seko, Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry. “Bangalore convinced me that the sky is the limit for India-Japan economic relationships — Japan’s strength in hardware and India’s strength in software. In the age of IOT, the heart of Japan-India partnership is here in Bangalore.”
The concept of Society 5.0 is in consonance with Japan’s challenge of an ageing population. “Social reform (innovation) in Society 5.0 will achieve a forward-looking society that breaks down the existing sense of stagnation, a society whose members have mutual respect for each other, transcending the generations, and a society in which each and every person can lead an active and enjoyable life,” according to a whitepaper from the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan.
India and Japan’s long standing but limited science and technology cooperation is now slowly broadening out with Japanese recognition of the benefits of partnering Indian research institutions. Cooperation is emerging in areas like bio-medicine and stem cell research, space collaboration and artificial intelligence.
Sensing the need for R&D innovation in the manufacturing sector, Japan is establishing R&D Centres in India capitalising on the huge availability of technical manpower. Companies like Panasonic, Toshiba and Hitachi have already initiated activities in this direction.
Japan is creating a mechanism through Regulatory Sandboxes to provide a new deregulation machinery to test emerging technologies such as — self-driving cars, long-range drones, piloting rule changes — This new system will foster experimental studies in evolving technologies such as IoT, AI, big data, automatic flight, and automatic driving thereby clearing a path through the thicket of regulations. Indian IT professionals will be able to test new technologies in Japan with supportive government regulations. The Japanese Government plans to simplify and clarify pre-approval procedures for testing next-generation technologies to move from theory to practice.
Known for its increasing number of elderly, Japan has the most aged citizens in its borders, with Italy close behind. People aged 65 and older in Japan make up a quarter of its total population, estimated to reach a third by 2050. According to 2014 estimates, 33.0% of the Japanese population is above the age of 60, 25.9% are aged 65 or above, 12.5% are aged 75 or above.
“Currently there are around 920,000 IT professionals in the country and there is an immediate demand for more than 200,000 IT professionals from India which is likely to further swell to 800,000 professionals by 2030. This is being necessitated due to the advent of rapid technological innovations in the societal needs in country. Japan wants to fill in this yawning gap and is looking towards India’s assistance in the IT space. Many Japanese companies feel the limitations to conventional “in-house innovation” and hence moving towards “most-advanced IT Technology Capabilities” for which India is the most ideal partner to look out for,” said Shigeki Maeda, Executive VP, Jetro. “Japan known for its manufacturing prowess, is on the road to adapt and adopt Innovation and emerging technologies to revolutionise its manufacturing methodology. Due to this conscientious process, there is a dearth of well qualified and trained IT professionals to enhance its competitiveness particularly in the areas of life-science, finance, services and agriculture.”
The Japanese Government will be issuing Green Cards to highly skilled professionals enabling people to acquire permanent resident status within a year. This is one of the fastest granted right of residence in the world.
This comes at a time when there is a sudden shrinking of work permits for Indian IT professionals in USA and Europe.
Japan has also eased visa-issuance rules for Indian travellers with effect from January 1, 2018. As per the new norms, applicants need not submit their employment certificate and letters of explanation for multiple-entry visas. The number of documents to be submitted have been reduced to three. In case a person has travelled to Japan twice in one year, just 2 documents are required — a passport and the visa application form.
In addition to highly skilled professionals, Japan is also looking to India to meet its demand for trained nurses, specially from India’s North East states.
The Indian population in Japan is growing at an average of 2000 people per year.
In the year 2017, around 134,400 tourists from India visited Japan and this number is increasing at 9.3% YoY.
India’s Chief Economic Advisor, Arvind Subramanian feels that Japan could do a lot more to increase the participation of women in the labor force. “The mistake would be to think of demography as destiny either on the way up or on the way down,” he says. *
Japan is particularly noted for its skills impartation and training methods. Its partnership with India is now being expressed through the establishments of Japan Institutes of Manufacturing (JIM) , Japan Endowed Courses, Technical Internship Training Program, Japan Language training programs and dedicated courses and centres for major initiatives including the high speed rail.
Minister Hiroshige Seko stated that Japan remains committed to infrastructural investments in India. He reaffirmed support for the agreement signed by India and Japan in April 2015 to double Japanese investment into Indian firms in the next five years.
The Tokyo Declaration for Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership has set a target of doubling Japanese FDI and the number of Japanese firms in India by 2019.
The agreement is categorised into 5 broad areas :
JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) is now the largest bilateral donor agency in India, surpassing the World Bank and ADB in executing large infrastructure projects in India. It has disbursed over Rs 1.5 lakh crore of soft loans to India since 2007–08.
In the 2017–18 period India has become the largest recipient of ODA (Official Development Assistance) loans made by Japan to any country in a single year (384.1 billion yen / $ 3.4 billion).
Japan has become the third largest investor in India — after Mauritius and Singapore. There is a significant presence of Japanese Companies in India (around 1400) from diverse sectors like Machine Tools, Automotive and Automotive Components, Electrical and Electronics.
Japanese investments in India during 2016–17 reached $4.7 billion, an 80 percent increase over the $2.6 billion of 2015–16.
Both countries will cooperate to connect Africa, Southeast Asia and India’s Northeast as part of the $40 billion Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) programme.
While bilateral investments are on the rise bilateral trade between India and Japan has not shown the same positive trend.
Despite the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (2011), India’s exports to Japan have almost halved from $6.81 billion in 2013–14 to $3.85 billion in 2016–17. Imports from Japan have also declined from a high of $12.5 billion in 2012–13 to $9.63 billion in 2016–17.
There seems to be a much broader Japenese thinking on India in evidence suggesting that a larger and stronger Indian economy is in Japan’s strategic interest.
India and Japan are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) with the United States and Australia. During the 2017 ASEAN Summits in Manila, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and President Donald Trump of the United States agreed to revive the security pact, to parry tensions in the region kindled by China and it’s territorial ambitions.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intended for the Quadrilateral to establish an “Asian Arc of Democracy.”
Hiroshige Seko (世耕 弘成 Sekō Hiroshige, born November 9, 1962) is a Japanese politician of the Liberal Democratic Party, a member of the House of Councillors in the Diet (national legislature). A native of Wakayama Prefecture, he graduated from Waseda University and received a master’s degree in corporate communications from Boston University. He was elected to the House of Councillors for the first time in 1998. He was elevated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to serve as Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) on August 3, 2016.
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