Is Japan Being Dethroned as Tech King?

While many nations offer significant contributions to the world of technology, none has the legacy or the esteem as Japan. Well-known for quality and reliability, both technological hardware and system soft and firmware has helped established Japan as a foremost force. Despite this, the ongoing advancement of other nations and changes from within have left Japan in a situation where it is no longer the unquestioned king. While this ties into greater issues of the world economy, a significant proportion of this is centered on the direction of the countries scientific and technological research policy, and the ability of other nations to increasingly interface with the direct Japanese market.

View from Tokyo Skytree” (CC BY 2.0) by Kinchan1

International Standing

A recent survey from the Japanese education ministry’s National Institute of Science and Technology Policy has revealed the stalling of the country’s place in the international market. Among the primary avenues of concern here is the apparent inability of Japan’s basic science research to produce results which are influential on a global scale. This was reflected in the opinions of around 2,800 polled researchers, who have noted an overall drop in confidence in Japanese research compared to the previous years.

The academic portion of this problem is widely believed to be a result of a change in the budget towards technology and the sciences. While funding in these areas has been traditionally high, recent changes have shifted the focus of funding away from universities and institutions and towards those which are considered the most likely to generate tangible results. This issue is reflected in the funding of the researchers themselves, with slashed budgets putting a strict limit on the injection of newer researchers into the field. This issue is further exacerbated by lower rates of childbirth and the changing nature of the Japanese labor market.

Shibaura Institute of Technology, Shibau” (CC BY 2.0) by Dick Thomas Johnson

Stepping In

Translating a system of technology into a foreign nation is generally a difficult and time-consuming task, and this is doubly so when dealing with a different language. Modern advancements and an increased worldwide focus on the globalization of software have made significant strides into reducing these issues in recent years, generally owning to careful selection of the right properties and the development and translation culture which now exists on a larger scale than ever before.

The most common way we see these developments is through software. For a long while, Microsoft Windows has been the defacto operating system for personal computers, and this increasingly extends to other professional and personal software. Word processing software like Word, image manipulation tools as with Photoshop, video building programs like Premier, and games like those casino releases from William Hill have all made strides in appealing to Japanese natives through a modern and targeted approach, and this is only gaining momentum.

Future Potential

While the relative proportion of Japanese influence over the tech industry is shrinking, they still hold a fundamental cornerstone of both legacy and current output. Increased funding and attention from Japanese policymakers will doubtless stem the falling tide, yet the influence of other nations cannot be ignored. The future, as it is shaping up, appears to be one of a shared technical crown. While this might not be a great thing for Japanese technological supremacy, in terms of consumer choice this development will likely prove a profoundly positive force.

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