Will Japan Lead the Next Industrial Revolution?

Photo: Luke Macgregor/Reuters/Newscom

Japan wants to bring about a “New Industrial Revolution Driven by Robots,” and they country’s government is adopting policies to make that a reality.

Robots could conceivably automate almost everything from agricultural equipment to automobiles, disaster-relief services to pharmaceuticals industries. And for a country facing an aging and declining population, a robot revolution could be the answer to Japan’s demographic and labor challenges.

But how would this affect the world at large? Heritage Foundation expert Riley Walters explains in Japan Today:

Japanese robotics may succumb to the so-called Galapagos syndrome—the technological phenomenon in Japan whereby electronic devices for the domestic market thrive, while the foreign market is almost non-existent.

To avoid such an eventuality, the ministry is seeking adherence to international standards — such as those of the International Organization for Standards (ISO), an industry norms-setting body.

This ought to draw in high-end investment, allow international compliance, and expand Japanese robot exports to world markets that seemingly are becoming less reliant on them.

Aside from the potential future international agreements and entanglements, there are more immediate concerns for Japan. Robots won’t cure the demographic and labor problems Japan is facing now, Walters says, and there are other reforms that must take priority.

What do you think? Is Japan leading the way?