How will Japan step into Society 5.0?

The society after our current information society, and after the hunter/gatherer, agricultural and industrial, is an integration of the cyberworld and the physical world. Society 5.0 was first launched as a concept when Japan adopted its Fifth...

The society after our current information society, and after the hunter/gatherer, agricultural and industrial, is an integration of the cyberworld and the physical world. Society 5.0 was first launched as a concept when Japan adopted its Fifth Basic Plan for Science and Technology in 2016. Society 5.0 will now get a significant push with the new Sixth Basic Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation adopted by the Cabinet Office, in which innovation is given a central role.

Society 5.0 is a human-centered society developed with rapidly evolving transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet-of-things (IoT) and robotics, in which human perspectives will be defining the desired society, not only its technological capabilities. The Sixth Basic Plan for STI also aims at promoting economic growth and addressing societal challenges, such as climate resilience and digitalisation.

In the coming five-year period, Japan will make its largest investment in R&D ever. Thirty trillion JPY (2.4 trillion SEK) will be invested from government, with expectation of industry investing 90 trillion JPY. In addition to this, a new university fund with 10 trillion JPY (800 billion SEK) is created, aimed to boost the top-performing Japanese universities further in the global competition of world-leading universities. The university fund is a new initiative in Japan, equipping the best Japanese universities with financial muscles as to increase competitiveness with i.e. Harvard and Stanford, and promoting higher risk-taking and enhanced forward-looking activities.

The Sixth Basic Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) was adopted on April 1, 2021, and prior to this, the underlying law for STI, the Basic Act, was changed and broadened from only Science and Technology to now also include Innovation as well as Social Sciences and Humanities. The Sixth Plan is the first to clearly include innovation as one of the significant changes, which is important for the increased ambitions towards promoting transformative innovation and addressing societal challenges, and for bringing forward innovative solutions. The Sixth Basic Plan for STI has an important role for the top Japanese priorities of carbon neutrality and the increased ambitions for digitalisation in society in the wake of the pandemic.

The three pillars of the new STI policy are (1) social structural reform, (2) fundamental strengthening of research capacity, and (3) development of human resources to support a new society.

(1) Transformation into a sustainable and resilient society through the fusion of cyberspace and physical space.

• Promotion of digitalisation of government through launching a Digital Agency, and implementation of a Public-Private Data Strategy.

• Transition to a circular economy, such as realization of carbon neutral strategy, which includes an additional two trillion JPY Green Innovation Fund.

• Building of a resilient, safe and secure society

This pillar includes support for startups, development of smart cities, societal implementation by the next Strategic Innovation Programmes and the Moonshot Research Programme, and promotion of international expansion.

(2) Strengthening research capacity and creation of knowledge for designing a new society.

• Strengthening support for doctoral students and young researchers, and female researchers.

• Promotion of basic research, including the humanities and social sciences, to create interdisciplinary and comprehensive knowledge.

• Creation of the 10 trillion JPY university fund and university reform, for transformation of university management.

(3) Development of human resources to support a new society – strengthening the ability to explore and attitude to continue learning.

• Promotion of STEAM education and digital school concept from elementary and secondary education stages.

• Fostering an environment and culture to promote recurrent education for re-learning and re-education.

The Sixth Basic Plan for STI includes development and R&D of next-generation infrastructure, beyond 5G, supercomputers, space systems, quantum technology, semiconductors, and data/AI utilization technologies. It also includes promotion of open science, and strengthened ambitions for university-academia collaboration, for promoting innovation!

Looking forward to Society 5.0! And hoping for co-creating innovative solutions and new concepts together.