“Society 5.0”: Japanese technologies for the digital transformation of the Russian economy

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Hiroyuki Onoda, General Director of Mitsubishi Electric (RUS) LLC, told Forbes about the implementation of the Japanese national strategy “Society 5.0”, as well as the possibility of implementing the foundations of the strategy in Russia.

The strategy for building a super-intellectual society (“Society 5.0”) was developed by the Japanese government with the participation of big business. In your opinion, is Society 5.0 a concept that is only suitable for Japan, or can it be implemented in other countries as well? Which countries, in your opinion, could become part of Society 5.0 and start the transformation now?

What were these challenges?

In 2016, the Japanese government outlined the main problems that hinder the sustainable development of both the Japanese and the global economy, negatively affecting society.

These challenges set us the task not so much of transforming the industrial sector as of creating a universal concept that would go beyond industry problems and would primarily meet social needs and demands.

First of all, we want to create a society in which everyone is comfortable.

A really important aspect of Society 5.0 is the creation of equal opportunities for all, as well as providing an environment for the realization of the potential of each person. In the “Society 5.0”, with the help of technology, physical, administrative and social barriers for self-realization of a person and the development of technologies have been removed..


For example, in Society 5.0, the shortage of labor force will be compensated by the elderly, who will receive additional opportunities with the help of new technologies. Suitable solutions for this purpose would be robotics (for example, for lifting heavy objects), as well as devices that improve vision and hearing.

In the proposed picture of the world, private corporations and entrepreneurs contribute to the transformation of people’s lives.

Why is Mitsubishi Electric so actively involved in the implementation and promotion of the “Society 5.0” strategy without being a state-owned company?

We already provide customers with smart systems and products. Since our company is actively involved in the implementation of the project in Japan, we can rethink our developments as part of this strategy. At the international level, this also works: Russia, for example, will take some elements from Society 5.0, or completely rebuild this concept for itself.

And then Mitsubishi Electric will be able to integrate into the process of transformation of the Russian economy, explaining why our experience and technologies are unique and how they will contribute to the modernization and achievement of big goals.


That is, your goal is advertising, and the benefit to society is in second place?

Certainly not. The philosophy of our company, formulated more than a hundred years ago, says that the company develops those technologies and produces those products that work to improve the quality of people’s lives. In other words, the credo of our company and the idea of “Society 5.0” are very similar. We do not differentiate between them – on the contrary, they are united by common values. Yes, technology is our business, but our entire business is about benefiting society.

Can you use the example of Mitsubishi Electric to explain what socially oriented technologies are we talking about?

Mitsubishi Electric technologies are key elements in the implementation of autonomous vehicles and intelligent transportation systems. These are, for example, our advanced autonomous driving technologies, developments in the field of satellite navigation systems (high-precision 3D maps based on CLAS centimeter-level differential correction system signals transmitted by QZSS quasi-zenith satellites).

They can be used in the implementation of smart land use and integrated construction (ICT Integrated construction). It is the same with other ideas and projects of Mitsubishi Electric: even our systems for the transformation of the manufacturing sector can be understood in the context of the public good.

Okay, name a few of the benefits that the average person will get from moving to Society 5.0.

First, personalized services. For example, in medicine, these are health databases, real-time monitoring. Autonomous driving is not an end in itself as a technology, but it will provide mobility – for example, allow people who, for health reasons, can no longer drive a car, to live in a comfortable environment. Also, autonomous vehicles solve the problem of transport accessibility in remote regions.

When we talk about the implementation of this strategy, we need to understand that we are not talking about a revolution, not about the fact that tomorrow or in a year all production will stop their work and begin to hastily introduce all possible innovations. We are talking about a gradual evolutionary development with such a transformation tactic, in which the transition to “Society 5.0” will be as painless as possible. For example, Mitsubishi Electric solutions for the manufacturing sector can be implemented on the basis of existing infrastructure, even if it is outdated.

As for the backlog, it is important to mention the following: the Japanese government, when developing Society 5.0, identified the obstacles that would have to be faced in the implementation of this strategy, and called them “walls”. There are five “walls” in total: the wall of ministries and departments, the legislative system, technology, human resources, and the wall of acceptance by society.

In order to move to the next stage in the development of society in any country, it is necessary to completely restructure the operation of these systems, in particular to overcome the wall of acceptance by society. And for this you need to educate people, explain what they are going to, what benefits they will receive from the changes.

The state of the industrial sector and its innovation are, of course, important, but this is not the only factor. When implementing the strategy, the country that will be able to overcome the “walls” faster and more successfully will be ahead.

Among the five “walls” identified, the legislative wall seems to me to be the most important. Governments should actively participate in the transformation precisely at the level of improving the legal system, not only at the national, but also at the international level. Otherwise, all changes will be uncontrolled and will not lead to a positive result, since they will not become systemic.