According to The Nikkei Asian Review, there are more than 370,000 foreign nationals who cannot enter Japan despite having precertification for residence status as of Oct. 1 due to border controls aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.
About 70% of those who cannot come to Japan are technical intern trainees and international students. While many countries are taking steps to ease immigration restrictions and reopen their economies, Japan, in principle, remains shut to foreign entrants from all countries.
Foreign nationals must apply for a certificate of eligibility before traveling to Japan to stay in the country for more than three months. According to a government source, Immigration Service Agency has issued eligibility certificates to 578,000 people since January 2020, of which 371,000 have not yet entered Japan.
The government imposed tighter border controls in January. Entry is only allowed for returning foreign residents and others with special status, such as spouses of Japanese nationals. Returning foreign nationals are required to take PCR tests and undergo quarantine.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese leading broker of second-hand brand-name goods is using an artificial intelligence-based mechanism to remove fakes from the market.
Komehyo Holdings Co., which buys and sells used articles, said the technology can identify imitations with a probability of “99 percent.”
“With the help of AI, we will eliminate fake products and prepare an environment where products are sold and purchased far more safely,” said Yuya Yamauchi, a Komehyo director responsible for the development of the authentification system.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japan will establish a 100 billion yen (US$ 875 million) fund to help accelerate research and development of advanced technologies and enhance economic security, Nikkei has learned.
The government plans to kick off the fund next year. It will be the country's first fund dedicated to economic security. Investments will go into artificial intelligence and quantum technology, biotechnology, and robotics -- all of which have military applications.
The fund will be formed under Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization and the Japan Science and Technology Agency. Other areas -- fifth-generation networks, big data and semiconductors -- will be included.
Funds will be provided to universities and companies to promote research and development, demonstration tests and practical applications in fields the government deems crucial.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Honda Motor's aircraft unit has unveiled a concept for a larger business jet that could fly from New York to Los Angeles without refueling.
The HondaJet 2600 would have a maximum range of 4,862 km, about 80% longer than the current HondaJet -- the bestselling small business jet for four straight years.
The announcement comes as demand for business flights makes only a slow recovery from the travel restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.
Honda Aircraft, which unveiled a mock-up of the concept on Tuesday at the 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas, said it would consider whether to move to mass production based on the market outlook.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japanese telecommunications company KDDI and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. will back a new fund that aims to acquire small and medium-sized enterprises and support their digital transformation, Nikkei has learned.
KDDI and SMBC, among others, will invest in the fund established by independent Tokyo-based investment company D Capital. They will also support companies acquired by the fund to implement digital transformations, by sending data experts into the organizations.
The fund will be set up in October with total commitments of about 30 billion yen ($270 million). IT company SCSK Corp., data science startup JDSC, Aozora Bank and Shinsei Bank are also investors. These companies will provide the technology to help with digital transformation and also source entities for the fund to invest in. It is the first fund in Japan that is aimed at improving corporate management centered on digital transformation.
According to The Nikkei Asia, SoftBank Group's telecommunications unit will launch one of Japan's biggest startup incubation centers to nurture more unicorns -- startups valued at $1 billion or more -- in the country.
SoftBank Corp. won a 14.4 billion yen (US$ 131 million) contract from the Aichi prefectural government to design and build the facility, Station Ai, in Nagoya. The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will span 23,000 sq. meters across seven floors.
The center will be owned by the Aichi government and a newly established SoftBank subsidiary will pay 255 million yen for the right to manage it for 10 years. SoftBank aims to attract startups, including those from outside Japan, by using its global network of tech investments and offering perks such as access to a supercomputer, and services such as mentorship at the facility.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, Toyota Motor Corp. announced on Sept. 7 that it will invest 1.5 trillion yen (US$ 13.6 billion) by 2030 in expanding the production of batteries for its electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
The funds will also go toward related research and development efforts.
The global automaker aims to halve the production cost of electric-vehicle batteries in the latter half of the current decade.
Toyota set a goal this spring to sell 8 million units of electric-powered vehicles a year in 2030, out of a projected total of 10 million vehicle unit sales worldwide.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, showrooms in Tokyo's Yurakucho and Shinjuku districts where shoppers can see and try out merchandise on display are nothing out of the ordinary.
But in the ones that b8ta Japan G.K. opened in August last year, there are no cash registers or sales on site. Instead, customers are asked to place their orders online for items such as a desktop clothes dryer and a delivery locker.
Catering to a growing number of customers visiting brick-and-mortar shops to check out products but purchasing them online, retailers are increasing their stores dedicated to "showrooming."
Startups and other businesses that have no dealings with retailers are renting small sections in these showrooms to display their products.
The trend has attracted attention, seen as a way to re-evaluate the meaning of physical stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced millions of people to stay at home.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japan's Fuji Electric will invest an extra 40 billion yen (US$365 million) to expand production of power semiconductors, which are used to manage power flows in air conditioners, electric autos and more.
The decision is a response to "growing demand from renewable energy" applications, such as electric vehicles and solar, said President Michihiro Kitazawa.
The 40 billion yen is on top of the 120 billion yen Fuji Electric had earmarked for the four years through fiscal 2022, which has already been moved up from the original time frame of fiscal 2023 to meet unexpectedly strong demand.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japan's efforts to attract overseas talent have not translated into better access to higher education for children of foreign nationals, a Nikkei survey of universities shows.
Of the 82 national universities surveyed, only one had an admission process for foreign-born Japan-educated students that was separate from the general entrance exam that would be difficult for one without native fluency and the restricted programs for international students.
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