Japanese Perspective on Technology

Japan is never shy of showing its talent in the field of technology. It is the home of numerous global-scale electronic companies, such as Sony, Nikon, Toshiba, etc. One would think the country is at the fore-front of technology. However, their virtues in the area seem to be only limited in hardware electronics. With the Smartphone industry that has bloomed enormously in the last decade, Japan seems to fall behind in its leading edge in technology on the world stage.

What Japan lacks is perhaps the entrepreneurship mindset. The ideal job of many college grads is to work in a already-existing large-scale company. People seldom consider the possibility of starting one’s own business. All the successful entrepreneurs are from the post-war era and are still pretty much the building brick of today’s Japanese economy and  young people today are just following their footsteps instead to paving their own paths.

Japanese investors are quite conservative when it comes to taking risks; their focus is to follow traditions and past experiences. However, in this ever changing world, the tradition-focused mentality does not always work – and that is perhaps the reason why Japanese has missed out on Smartphone evolution. Only a decade ago, a Japanese cell phone would be considered the most amazing of its kind, but not anymore with competitions coming from Apple, Samsung.

That is not to say Japan lacks the talent and creativity. Even in Japanese Animes, such as Doraemon, Detective Conan, there are plenty of then-fictional-inventions that have come to realization over the years. Even with such brilliant ideas coming from Japan, when it comes to funding for development, one often has to seek elsewhere outside of Japan. Places like Silicon Valley, that encourages putting fresh ideas into action.

An entrepreneurship-friendly environment is an idea that has crossed the minds of Japanese people. In the 2012 Japanese drama series Rich Man Poor Woman, a young successful, eccentric, Steve-Jobs-inspired ICT entrepreneur is portrayed by Oguri Shun, a popular Japanese actor. The series was well-received for its romantic plotline, but perhaps, the audience is also able to see the value in the innovation coming from young entrepreneurs.

With products like Google Glass, Apple Watch, many are suspecting that the next direction in technology will turn to wearable tech, and Japan certainly hopes to get a head start in this field. Wearable digital products, such as Docotch 01, are already in-the-making. In preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan has held a Wearable Tech Expo in Tokyo in March of 2014, and this year, another one will be happening in September.

Is Japan ready to win back its leading in tech in the near future? It all really depends on the how much creativity and innovation the country could foster for the younger generation.

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