Aging Japan as Global Opportunity? How Japan’s Extreme Demographics are Shaping Technological Trajectories

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

The demographics of Japan’s aging society has galvanized a wide range of corporate efforts, supported both directly and indirectly by the government, to aggressively develop artificial intelligence-driven technologies and IT systems to perform work for which labor shortages are accelerating. We are beginning to see concrete corporate offerings to address shortages of specific types of skilled and unskilled labor, as well as numerous efforts underway to develop systems to cope with sparsely populated, elderly geographic regions and the logistics surrounding eldercare more generally.

In this talk, based on a forthcoming book chapter, Kushida examines specific corporate cases and government strategies suggesting how Japan’s population aging and shrinking has led to three primary interrelated drivers of significance to shaping technological trajectories: 1) Demographics as market opportunity of an entirely unprecedented scale to serve the needs of a rapidly aging society; 2) demographic change creating an acute labor shortage; and 3) favorable political and regulatory dynamics for pursuing the development and diffusion of new technological trajectories to solve social and economic challenges caused by demographic change. A critical implication is that if technologies developed or deployed within Japan to solve domestic demographic problems are applicable elsewhere, then Japan’s demographic challenge can be an opportunity to cultivate competitive products and services in global markets.


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Kenji E. Kushida is a Japan Program Research Scholar at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and an affiliated researcher at the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy. Kushida’s research interests are in the fields of comparative politics, political economy, and information technology. He has four streams of academic research and publication: political economy issues surrounding information technology such as Cloud Computing; institutional and governance structures of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster; political strategies of foreign multinational corporations in Japan; and Japan’s political economic transformation since the 1990s. Kushida has written two general audience books in Japanese, entitled Biculturalism and the Japanese: Beyond English Linguistic Capabilities (Chuko Shinsho, 2006) and International Schools, an Introduction (Fusosha, 2008). Kushida holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He received his MA in East Asian studies and BAs in economics and East Asian studies, all from Stanford University.


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