(Asahi: January 19, 2016 – p. 7)
The Japanese government will announce a new growth strategy around June this year. Under the banner of creating world-class national universities, the government has decided on a policy of supporting universities in creating venture companies. Measures to respond to the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which applies artificial intelligence and big data, will also be part of the growth strategy and will include prioritizing the development of human resources specialized in IT.
Starting on Jan. 25, the government’s Industrial Competitiveness Council (chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) will discuss the new growth strategy. The items that the Council will consider have been announced, and the Council will flesh out the measures with an eye toward completing the new growth strategy this summer.
In the area of national university reform, the Council will consider naming national universities that meet certain criteria as “designated national universities (tentative name)” and relaxing regulations regarding fund management and the lending of real estate. This will make it possible for universities to increase their revenues, hire outstanding researchers at high salaries, and attract exceptional students.
By raising the level of universities, the Council aims to create a virtuous cycle where universities create more venture companies and this attracts human resources and funding from outside. [The universities] will be referred to as “Japanese-version Stanfords,” after Stanford University, which has produced many IT venture companies in Silicon Valley.
Moreover, to develop human resources specialized in IT, Japan will enhance education in programming at elementary, junior high, and senior high schools. The Council will also consider creating institutes of higher education that teach the new technologies and knowledge needed by industry.
In addition, the Council will look at measures to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is now being spearheaded by the West. Harnessing the high level of Japan’s manufacturing technologies, the nation will accelerate efforts to develop self-driving cars and medical treatment using artificial intelligence. In addition to promoting the creation of rules on data use and application, the Council will also examine ways to make it easier to recruit talented individuals from overseas.
Main themes of the new growth strategy
· Responding to the Fourth Industrial Revolution
· Promoting the sharing economy
· Advancing the spread of cheap smartphones as IT infrastructure
· Developing systems with an eye on using self-driving cars at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
· Creating “designated national universities” (tentative title)
· Accelerating achievement of the goal of increasing exports of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products and food products to 1 trillion yen by the year 2020
· Strengthening measures after the goal of attracting 20 million overseas visitors to Japan has been achieved