Cloud computing is Japan’s way out of "Galapagos syndrome"

flickr ken lee keio technology mall A "Techno-Mall" highlighting various technology developments in Japan is held at the The Tokyo International Forum in Dec. 2013.

Japan is often cited for failing to capitalize on its innovative technologies and design aesthetics in global markets, but the advent of cloud computing provides new opportunities, says Kenji Kushida, the research associate for the Japan Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), in a new coauthored op-ed.

In Nikkei Asian Review, Kushida writes with Martin Kenney, a professor of community and regional development at the University of California, Davis, that Japan’s market has a strong record of developing high-quality hardware and services, particularly in the consumer electronics and digital content industries, but a majority remains domestic.

Often referred to as the “Galapagos syndrome,” Japan is a technology leader but its output is largely confined to its own borders. The term compares the country’s industry to the Galapagos Islands, located off the coast of Ecuador, where geographic isolation has led to unique evolutionary development.

Kushida, who heads a new research project on Silicon Valley-Japan relationships, and Kenney note that many of the high-end core components in products from U.S. and Asian manufacturers are Japanese, despite loss of visibility on the final product.

The authors also say the rise of global cloud-computing services offers an immense opportunity for Japan, and a way to escape the Galapagos syndrome and enhance its global competitiveness.

The full op-ed can be found on Nikkei Asian Review online.