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Highlighting JAPAN

February 2016

Driving the Robotics Age

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- Courtesy Call on Prime Minister Abe by Mr. William (Bill) Henry Gates III, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Japan-Australia Summit Meeting and Other Events
- Unveiling of the Official Logo for the G7 Japan 2016 Ise-Shima Summit and Award Ceremony
- Courtesy Call from Representatives of the Ship for World Youth Leaders

Driving the Robotics Age


Robots Past, Present and Future

Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have created great expectations for their potential to make people's lives more comfortable and convenient. We spoke to Dr. Kazuhito Yokoi, the director of the Intelligent Systems Research Institute - part of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), in Tsukuba, Japan - about the path robotics has traversed in Japan and prospects for the future.

These Are the Droids You're Looking For

Glory Ltd.'s futuristic production line employs next-generation NEXTAGE humanoid robots that work in companionable conjunction with human employees to build complex currency-sorting machines.

The Lure of Success

A new, fully automated squid-fishing device uses computer control technology designed for industrial robots to faithfully replicate the maneuvers employed by expert fishermen. Customizable for ease of use and requiring less power to operate, the device is finding fans both in Japan and overseas.

Giving Surgeons a Helping Hand

DENSO Corporation partnered with two universities and medical professionals to devise a revolutionary motorless surgical support robot called the iArmS that reduces the tremors from arm strain and fatigue surgeons experience as they perform procedures.

Smart, Weird and Wonderful

The Henn-na Hotel (literally, "Weird Hotel") has garnered global interest because robots handle many of its services.The hotel's management concept is designed to trim labor costs and conserve energy, with an eye toward Japan's future.

RoboCab at Your Service

Experts believe that fully automated robot taxis will help solve Japan's social needs and represent a step toward maintaining a more convenient and intuitive environment for foreign residents as the country globalizes.

Test Subject

"Can a robot get into the University of Tokyo?" That's the question the team led by National Institute of Informatics seeks to answer with their similarly-titled project as they prepare the artificial intelligence robot To-Robo-kun to tackle the entrance exam at Tokyo University, designed to be the most difficult entrance exam in Japan. We spoke with project director Noriko Arai about the significance and goals of the project.

Anime Robot Evolution

Japan has envisioned numerous robots over the last half century, primarily through its colorful manga and anime culture, and the history of Japanese robot anime is one reason for Japan's global reputation for being "robot country." Anime and film critic Ryusuke Hikawa explains.


Instruments Both Delicate and Strong

Surgery via microscope relies on ultrafine needles smaller than a hundred micrometers in diameter - thinner than a strand of most human hair. Japan's Kono Seisakusho Co., Ltd. , a trusted provider to medical professionals, produces the world's smallest surgical needles.

Packed with Style

Thomas Bertrand's firm Bento&co markets Japan's signature bento boxes and related products in about ninety countries. He's helped fuel consumer fascination with these containers, particularly in France, to the extent that French dictionaries now include the word "bento."

The Cosmos Is Our Canvas

Lena Okajima and her company ALE Co., Ltd. are blending science, art and entertainment in their artificial shooting star project, aiming to create truly stellar entertainment in outer space.

An Island Bursting with Zest

Citrus production is big business in the regions bordering Japan's Seto Inland Sea, and two tiny hamlets in the area yield mountains of the fruit. Yuzu and sudachi are the varieties prized most, thanks to their refreshing taste and fragrance - and positive effects on health.