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How ‘Future of Work’ is Helping Solve Japan’s Workforce Issues?

By Aastha Malhotra 23rd March 2021
Japan_Future of Work

Automation is one aspect of the modern industrial revolution that has been transforming the way work is done. The recent pandemic has pushed many economies, like Japan, to quickly adapt to automation technologies like Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning. Even before the ongoing pandemic, a McKinsey podcast on the future of work indicated that by 2030 about 16 to 30% of jobs might get automated. 

Countries like Japan, with the deteriorating workforce and ageing population, need to develop a solution to automate production. The demographic shift and negative impact of the COVID19 infections have led to a shortage of workforce. 

According to the McKinsey Global Institute(MGI) estimate, Japan has seen a workforce productivity rate of below 2% in the last two decades. With such a declining trend, the country is looking at sluggish GDP growth of 1.3% through 2025.

So, what is the solution for Japan?

The future of the work approach seems to be the best for Japan’s deteriorating workforce. Let’s see how Japan is leveraging future technology for growth in the economy. 

How Has Japan Adopted the Future of Work Approach?

Japan has been the centre of excellence in new industrial methodologies like six sigma, lean manufacturing, and Kaizen. Ever since the industrial revolution, Japan has taken the charge of innovations through future technology. 

Small businesses drive Japan’s economy. According to a report, 99% of Japanese employees work in small businesses. Most small businesses in Japan do not have enough resources to cater to huge demand in the market, thus making it necessary to innovate. So, what are the future technologies that Japan has adopted, and how? Let’s explore. 

Artificial Intelligence

Automation is one of the most vital parts related to the future of work approach, and Japan is innovating through AI. In fact, according to the Nomura Research Institute, the AI sector in Japan will see a massive stride by 2035. Automation companies like NEC, Abeja, and others innovate to bring more production efficiency, pushing Japan’s GDP. 

Take an example of the AI-enabled hospital project by the Japanese government. Authorities will invest more than $100 million in ten hospitals to automate healthcare facilities by 2022. 

They will leverage Artificial Intelligence to assist the healthcare workforce in automating patient record maintenance, tracking symptoms, testing the blood samples, and many more. It is an attempt by the government to reduce the healthcare sector’s workload, which is suffering from a lack of doctors and nurses. 

Industrial Robotics

Another tremendous future technology that Japan is relying on to ensure more productivity and an optimised workforce are Robots. Robotics has been the core technology innovation in Japan for many years. Take an example of the humanoid robot called ‘Telexistence.’ It is a robot developed to imitate human actions through a video from anywhere in the world. 

Japan_future of work

10 of Japan’s Top Robotics Companies Leading The World Into 2020 (rocketspace.com)

Telexistence can be controlled with a Head-Mounted Display (HMD) and haptic feedback gloves that can adjust the movements, environment, and feel what the robot experiences. Such industrial robots help automate delivery through different technologies like AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality), and Natural Language Programming (NLP). 

Process Automation

From Robotic Process Automations (RPA) to IoT-based automated vehicles, Japanese manufacturing innovations are spearheaded by future technology development. According to Statista, Japan’s RPA market is forecasted to grow at a steady rate and reach over 80 million Japanese Yen by 2022.

Japan-Future of work stats

• Japan: robotic process automation market size 2016-2022 | Statista

RPA helps by the usage of software robots to automate repetitive tasks at the industrial and administrative level. 

Delivery Automations

With the recent pandemic, Japan needs delivery automation systems to empower businesses with contactless deliveries. Take an example of Yamato’s collaboration with Japan Post for delivery automation. The logistics giant is looking to leverage Yamato’s robotic expertise to test robots on Tokyo’s streets to automate delivery

Japan implements future of work technology with delivery automation software

Along with the robots, they will need delivery automation software to manage the process and track movement. It will help create an ecosystem of automated logistics services for the Japanese manufacturing sector. 

There is no doubt that Japan is pushing hard at many different future technologies for its ageing workforce issues. But, apart from the workforce issues, there are many more reasons. Let’s discover.

Why Did Japan Adopt the Future of Work?

Japan is losing workforce with drastic changes in the demographics. According to a study, Japan will have a reduced working-age population from 79 million to 71 million by 2022. So, they needed an approach that can help optimise the existing workforce and reduce dependence through repetitive tasks automation.

Japan adopting future of work concept

Future_of_Japan_Executive_summary_March_2015.pdf (mckinsey.com)

The future of the work approach is the right solution for Japan. It will help them automate the delivery of services and improve productivity. Another problem has been the declining birth rates in Japan, thus shrinking the workforce. According to the World Economic Forum, Japan’s working population will further shrink down to 52.45 million by 2040.

Japan saw 921,000 births and 1.37 million deaths in 2018, which shows a population gap of  448,000 people. The significant birth rate decline is continually affecting the country’s economic growth. 

Apart from the birth rate woes and an ageing workforce, Japan is also dealing with the gender gap in workplaces. Gender equality at workplaces is a new concept in Japan, and that is why the Global Gender Gap report places the country at 110th place out of 140 countries. This gender gap owes its existence to the fact that still many women in Japan are not allowed to work outside and contribute to the economy, and thus, the workforce deterioration continues.

Whether it’s a gender gap, lower birth rate, an ageing workforce, or need for better productivity, Japan needs a future work approach to counter these issues. Let’s see what the benefits of this approach for Japan are.

Benefits with Future of Work

Here are some benefits that Japan will have with the future of work,

  • Japan can improve economic growth through increased GDP supported by  automation and an optimised workforce. An increase in productivity and GDP will help Japan improve the per capita income from the current projection of $32000 to $48000.
  • Employees will have a better work-life balance and use the purchasing power to boost demand in the market.
  • With investment in future technology advancements, Japan will have skilled labour to tackle the lack of a workforce.
  • Automations in delivery services will ensure better logistics for companies to enhance customer experiences and increased revenues.
  • Robotics and RPA will help reduce the reliance on humans for repetitive and labour-intensive tasks, making it viable for the reduced working population of Japan to sustain. 
  • With the future of work, Japanese companies can dominate the domestic market and disrupt overseas markets. 

Conclusion

Japan has an opportunity to lead in terms of the industrial revolution again with the future of work. Even though Japan has issues like an ageing workforce or population gap, future technology can rise again. Technologies like AI, ML, and IoT can also help Japanese businesses go global with enhanced processes and delivery automation. 

One of the key aspects that the future of work approach encapsulates is delivery automation. If you are looking for delivery automation software, Tookan can be a great option, as it helps with features like auto-allocation, order tracking, and route optimisations. 

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