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Yomiuri Shimbun: Drone deliveries key to government growth strategy

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By Yomiuri Shimbun, 8:24 pm, May 29, 2017

The government plans to focus on policy measures and investment in five different areas to promote its new growth strategy, setting up specific goals such as realizing delivery services using drones in the 2020s, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. According to a draft of the “Japan Revitalization Strategy 2017,” the government will concentrate on the promotion of a “fourth industrial revolution,” which aims to advance industry through robot technology, artificial intelligence and other technologies. The government is to unveil the draft on Tuesday at the Council on Investments for the Future, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It plans to adopt the draft at a Cabinet meeting in early June at the earliest.

The draft says that although the Abenomics economic policy has driven the nation’s corporate profits to their highest levels in history, Japan has remained in long-term economic stagnation due to prolonged sluggish growth in productivity and a lack of creation of new demand. As a key to ensure medium- to long-term economic growth, the government plans to introduce technological innovations to drive the fourth industrial revolution in a variety of industries and in society, according to the draft.

On that basis, the government plans to aggressively mobilize the nation’s policy resources and promote future investment in the five areas: prolonging a healthy life expectancy; realizing a transportation revolution; improving supply chains for future generations; creating comfortable infrastructure and urban development; and providing the public with “fintech,” services that integrate finance and information technology.

The draft also states drone delivery services will start next year in mountainous regions. The strategy further establishes the specific goal of introducing full-fledged, safe drone deliveries in densely populated cities in the 2020s.

In addition, the government sets a clear goal in the draft regarding driverless vehicles, and of several driverless trucks being led by another truck with a human driver along an expressway. It is aiming for practical application for commercial use by 2022 at the earliest.

Using both drones and driverless vehicles is expected to facilitate prompt delivery services to and from remote islands as well as other places, and to significantly reduce logistic costs. The government hopes to deal with the serious labor shortage in the distribution industry by introducing these delivery systems.

The government will launch a new system to ease the nation’s regulations for a limited period during demonstration experiments, the draft states. Healthy life expectancy will be prolonged by promoting remote medical services, according to the strategy. The draft also covers the establishment of a system to disclose the names and other information of a company’s president and others should they remain with the company as an adviser or consultant even after stepping down.

***Major plans from ‘JapanRevitalization Strategy 2017’***

■ Introducing a full-fledged delivery system using drones in cities in the 2020s.

■ Realizing automated driving in which several driverless trucks are led by a truck with a human driver along the Shin Tomei Expressway in 2020, with the aim of practical application for commercial use by 2022 at the earliest.

■ Promoting remote medical services combined with medical consultations with a doctor, with the aim of reducing the burden of frequently visiting medical facilities.

■ Setting up a system to disclose the names and other information of a company’s president and others should they remain with the company as an adviser or consultant even after stepping down.

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