The Government of Japan is ramping up its efforts to achieve what it calls “Society 5.0”, the next societal evolution after this current age of digital revolution.
Society 5.0 implements the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technology to face challenges that face communities. It is currently running 229 projects in 157 areas across Japan, all aimed at social issues such as the aging society and issues that come with a decreasing population, energy management, disaster management, and aging infrastructure.
Through IoT initiatives, such as diversification of mobility options and smart energy solutions, the Government of Japan hopes to present what it calls its technology-based vision for the future of Japanese society, which will take societal changes like increased diversity and inclusivity. The two technology-based solutions, Society 5.0 and the Smart City movement, are not the same.
“Smart cities are the method of how to solve individual problems that each community or city is confronted with, but Society 5.0 is the big picture or vision to which we should aim. Smart cities are tactical whereas Society 5.0 is holistic,” Deguchi said.
Society 5.0 is aimed at having a noticeable impact on communities, but it does also take aim at a number of industry innovations.
The Japanese are using this model to modernize industries like healthcare, where the aging of Japan’s population has driven citizens to care more about their own health, their longevity, and the cost of healthcare related services. From this modernization, integrated healthcare data using big data to provide customized medical care has been on the rise in line with the Society 5.0 model. Further healthcare developments include enhanced remote medical-care services, used in combination with face-to-face care, faster approval for regenerative medicine, and the use of robotics at long-term care facilities. Society 5.0 hopes to use the investment in connected healthcare services to bolster the demand for care and wellness products and services.
Another challenge the aging population of Japan poses is the issue of mobility for citizens and how an older segment of society can use transportation to transport themselves, as well as to bring services that aren’t immediately available, closer to them. The framework for Society 5.0 proposes the introduction of drone technology for deliveries to the mountainous and more urban regions of Japan. With this also comes autonomous bus services and truck platoons, one-mile artificial intelligence (AI) taxicabs, green mobility vehicles, and a global positioning system (GPS) share cycle system. The government is hoping that integrating these ideas into its societal model will not only stimulate innovation in mobility, administration, and infrastructure, but also start to push Japan toward its sustainability goals.
The blueprint for Society 5.0 was born out of two ideas centered around creating a model Japanese society.
First, Abenomics, which is the original vision of the Japanese government and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was aimed at providing future growth for Japan across all functions of society. The plan’s most notable goals were implementing IoT into communities to develop nationwide 5G, smart agriculture initiatives, remote medical care services, increased sensors technology, drone delivery services, and the introduction of driverless transportation.
Abenomics was paired with the research done by the Urban Design Center of Kashiwa-no-ha (UDCK). Led by University of Tokyo professor Dr. Atsushi Deguchi, the UDCK envisioned a rise in mass collaboration surrounding private, public, and academic partnerships with the underlying questions for this collaborative push being “what do we want out of a society”.
These two plans converge into the joint Society 5.0 model that the government is hoping will work toward the goals of its citizens and individual challenges faced by each community.
Though this model is being implemented throughout Japan, Deguchi believes this strategy is transferable to cities across the world.
“Japan is unique. The cities of Japan vary greatly from each other and so there are many different applications [used in Japan] that can be applicable to other cities and countries,” Deguchi said.