51st MUMEI-JUKU (08/09/2020)

Theme: Innovation beyond the limitation, the IOWN initiative
Speaker: Takehiko Kawazoe
(Senior Executive Officer, Head of Research Planning Division, NTT)

 ◆-Thinking about Japan’s digital strategy
Excerpt from the beginning of Takeda’s speech at MUMEI-JUKU in September 2020
Today, we will listen to the lecture from Mr. Kawazoe, NTT’s Managing Director, about the IOWN concept. This is a network that uses not only electrons but also light and photons, and is the next 6G concept after 5G.
Networks are the core of digital technology, just like AI and computers. We have a new prime minister, Suga, and we believe that policies to promote digital technology will be at the core of his policies. Unfortunately, Japan’s digital strategy so far has not been working effectively. In this meeting, we will once again examine what digital means and what digital strategy is.
The essence of digital technology as a prerequisite for strategy is that it is a “core cell
Before developing a strategy, it is necessary to understand the substance of what digital technology is. This is the same as traditional technology.
Stem cells, unlike ordinary cells, can differentiate and differentiate into the various organs that make up the body. In the same way, digital technology will evolve and develop into the core systems that make up our society, such as transportation, food, medicine, and education. This is not the case with ordinary technology.
Eric Stolterman, a proponent of the much-talked-about DX, or Digital Transformation, said, “Digital penetration will transform not just individuals, but society as a whole.
The first priority is to create an innovative environment.
To promote DX, a digital strategy is necessary. One of them is the First Ⅿover Advantage (FMA). Someone’s idea of “why not second place?” is not acceptable. The FMA will determine the destiny of the country. Of course, the development of the first Ⅿover advantage requires a huge amount of research expenses, as is the case with IOWN. Not only that, but it is also necessary to establish international rules and standards, and to survive in the fierce international competition. However, if we can get ahead of the competition, we will have an advantage that will more than make up for these challenges. This applies not only to NTT, but also to related companies and to Japan as a whole. The important point is not so much the increase in sales and tax revenue, but rather the creation of an environment and platform for prosperity that will encourage people and companies to innovate.
A huge digital company called GAFA has emerged in the United States. Many people associate this with the exploits of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Larry Page, but the truth is that their abilities first blossomed within this platform. 3G service was first launched in the world by Docomo in 2001, but U.S. telecom companies caught up by 2005, and by 4G they were completely ahead. During this time, the US platform was established. During this time, the US platform was established. Most of the top 20 companies in the world’s digital sector are US companies. Next, a huge digital company called BAT was born in China, which was followed by many others, and Chinese companies accounted for 6 of the top 20 digital companies in the world. Here, too, a platform for prosperity has been created.
The Rise of Chinese Companies and Friction between the U.S. and China
This was brought about by the much-talked-about Huawei, which for more than a decade conducted basic research on 5G, patented it, and called on other Chinese companies to create standards in the international arena. The Chinese government, and the Chinese Communist Party above it, supported it in every way possible. As a result, China’s digital strategy has been a success, with Chinese-style 5G leading the world and Chinese-style AI coming in line with the US.
There are those who say, “It doesn’t matter if it’s Chinese style, if it’s good, use it,” but we need to consider that digital is the starting point of the system. In fact, the adoption of Chinese-style 5G is a gateway to dirty networks where backdoors are commonplace. Also, the adoption of Chinese-style AI will be the gateway to a world where the Chinese Communist Party controls all data and does not recognize individual freedom and dignity. Some Western intellectuals believe that tribute to China and diplomacy with the Chinese government has already begun.
The Trump administration, realizing the seriousness of the situation, has taken a hard-line policy against China, and has begun to beat Huawei without restraint. As the U.S. distrust of China has grown stronger, this policy will probably continue regardless of the outcome of the November presidential election. However, this approach will not create a platform for prosperity.
Cooperation between industry, government, and academia is essential for the development of Japan-style digital strategies.
Under the current international situation, I would like to see NTT’s IOWN initiative follow the path of a Japanese-style digital strategy that ensures reciprocity and transparency, rather than an opaque Chinese-style digital strategy. For this purpose, the efforts of not only NTT, but also related companies and universities will be important. The role of the Japanese government will also be important. I won’t go into details, but it is not only in China that the role of the government is important. It is often forgotten that the development of computers, networks, and AI are all the result of the US and UK governments creating the research opportunities that led to them.
(From the excerpt)

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