2019年10月15日火曜日

The Inbound Market for Anime and Manga


 The Anime Business Partners Forum's Symposium on "The Inbound Market for Anime and Manga" was recently held. I acted as the chair.

 The government's policy aims to increase the number of foreign visitors to Japan from 20 million to 40 million in 2020. Currently, consumption on travel sits at 3.5 trillion yen.  The plan is to multiply that amount to 8 trillion. But what does that have to do with anime and manga? That's the theme we're tacking.

 Currently sales of anime, manga, and character goods come to 30 billion yen, and 13% of those purchases are made by tourists. Putting it into perspective, tourists only make up 1% of total consumption, That's less than 1/10 of fashion consumption. A third of that, or 10 billion, is spent by Chinese tourists alone.

 According to Akihabara's Representative Izumi, Akihabara has changed from a place to buy home electronics to a place to shop for pop culture goods, but although the area has moved towards the pop culture goods foreign buyers are looking for,  the foreigner-oriented businesses, which is to say the those focused on inbound business, have yet to go into full swing.

 40% of plastic Gundam models sales are foreign sales, and including inbound consumption, a full 50% of all sales nationally were by foreigners. The structure is one that sees domestic sails to foreigners increase alongside outbound sales overseas. The outbound and inbound sales are unified neighbors.

 For the anime Chibi Maruko-chan, popular products overseas include things like kotatsu, lactic accid drinks, children's backpacks, and more.  Without asking overseas, we can't know what demand is like overseas.

 The popular of Japanese pop culture is entrenched overseas, and industry continues to pour their efforts into developing these outbound sales, but experts all agree that the future offers big opportunity in inbound sales. It looks like anime and manga have a lot of potential.

2019年10月9日水曜日

High Expectations for RIKEN's AI Research Center


The AIP(Advanced Intelligence Project): a comprehensive project combining artificial intelligence, big data, IoT, and cyber-security. Three government ministries, MEXT, METI, and MIC are collaborating to promote AI research and development as well as its social implementation. 30 million of the 70 million doller budget has been appropriated towards  RIKEN AIP Center.

Not only that, but the government has assigned the 42 year old Tokyo University professor Sugiyama to a top position in the RIKEN AIP Center.  The project has also secured a driving force in the form of its special advisor, Carnegie Mellon's Takeo Kanade, the heavyweight director of the National Informatics Institute's Kitsuregawa campus.

In 1985, then-70 MIT President Jerome Wiesner entrusted the 42 year old Nicholas Negroponte the directorship of MIT's Media Lab. This is reminiscent of that. Negroponte went on to hold the directorship for 15 years. Perhaps Japan is seeking the same kind of enthusiasm, entrusting the next 15 years of AI research to professor Sugiyama.

In addition to developing foundational technology in the form of revolutionary algorithms such as deep learning, the project will move forward on implementing these technologies in society. AI has uses in fields such as medicine and disaster management.

However, in a world where companies like Google and Amazon are investing in this technology to the tune of hundreds of billions of yen,  the Japanese government has budgeted only billions. Is there a strategy that can bridge this gap?

According to Professor Sugiyama, applied research is a battle of the budgets, but foundational research is a competition between individuals. He goes on to say that on the level of individual researchers, at least, Japan has the capacity to become a game changer.

Well then, what of applied research? It all comes down to the careful selection of themes. They'll have the cooperation of Nobel Prize winners in physiology and medicine for research into iPS cells (Prof. Shinya Yamanaka) and in physics for the invention of efficient blue LEDs (Prof. Hiroshi Amano).  Additionally, healthcare and disaster management can be turned into projects, utilizing Japan's strengths as a developed country facing these new challenges.

RIKEN AIP plans to bring together a system of 200 young top-level researchers. They'll pour efforts into social research at the same time as they continue to cover foundational technology and developing applications. It's important to build a community based not only on scientific research but also on investigating socio-economics, ethics, philosophy and more.

I intend to take up the task of promoting these subjects.
It could be a strategy for Japan to become a major power in AI use. Utilizing it for new developed country challenges such as medicine and disaster management is important, but we should also be proactive in integrating it in the areas of pop culture and education. I want to continue to spread that message far and wide.

2019年10月1日火曜日

Let's Build a Base for Digital Personnel Development


A continuation of my presentation from the joint governmental/CoolJapan personnel development research conference.

KMD, Keio University's Media Design Lab, which has been participating in the CiP planning for the Pop & Tech SEZ, is a graduate school established in 2008 which takes as its motto a commitment to an interdisciplinary fusion of design, technology, management, and policy.

At the same time KMD takes the approach of working with sponsors through various industry-academia collaborations  in the laboratory-style creation of various services and businesses. It's a method of education that works by throwing students into various industry-led projects, improving results.

We'd like to incorporate those KMD educational/research techniques. KMD already has various collaborations with overseas art schools such as England's RCA, and America's Pratt, as well as with the National University of Singapore, but we've invited Stanford University to share space with them in Takeshiba as well.

However, Takeshiba is merely a launching point for digital development in Tokyo. As part of the government's CoolJapan concept, there's also emphasis being placed on developing an area on the grounds of Haneda International Airport in addition to Takeshiba.  Going forward, we plan to incorporate more planned collaborations.

In addition to the Takeshiba/Haneda areas, there's a lot of development going on around JR Shinagawa Station. With ten times the space at Takeshiba, it promises to be an excellent region for the social implementation of the SEZ's cutting edge developments. Moving farther north, locations can also be found in Akihabara and Todai. We're sketching out plans for a Digital Belt that will wind through the bay area.

Redevelopment has also stepped up in Shibuya. Last year, a corporation called Shibuya Creative Town was created, aiming to move Shibuya in a more media/content oriented direction.
The dream is to connect Tokyo in all directions, and see if it might not be possible to create a broad digital base.

Korea can serve as a model. Content  Korea Lab, or CKL, a personnel development organization, and the startup support organization Creative Economy Leader, or CEL. They're operated using a budget provided by the Korean government. There's also the DCM, or Digital Media City, a gathering place for media created through a collaboration between industry, government, and the city of Seoul.
We've recently concluded an agreement in Seoul for the purpose of setting up a collaboration between the CiP council and the Korean government/ Content Promotion Institute.

In Singapore's neighboring country Malaysia, in the development region of Iskandar, located in Johor Bahru, the government is setting up a base for media education and research. Although the central role in the effort is being played by London University, CiP has also concluded an agreement and entered into collaboration with them.

In this way, we're conceiving hubs that will link together Tokyo with America, Europe, and Asia.