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Weekly Japanese Industry and Policy News (May 6- May 10, 2024)

The EU-Japan Centre is pleased to start a new weekly service by publishing brief summary of the latest information from the Japanese governmental organizations & private companies/organizations. A couple of minutes reading to be informed about what is happening in Japan's policy, economy, EU-Japan relations, and innovation.

*Information is deemed correct at the time of release. 

Second Ministerial Meeting of the Japan-EU Digital Partnership Council Held
On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the second ministerial meeting of the Japan-EU Digital Partnership Council was held in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Kono Taro, Minister for Digital Transformation, Mr. Matsumoto Takeaki, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, Mr. Ishii Taku, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Mr. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, European Commission. At the meeting, the representatives of the two ministries and one agency of Japan and the European Union held discussions and issued a joint statement as an outcome of the discussions.

METI has published documents (policies, rules, guidelines, etc.) in preparation for the operation of the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Personal Information Protection Commission have announced documents (policies, rules, guidelines, etc.) necessary for the operation of the Global CBPR System, a new international corporate certification system for cross-border personal data, at the Global Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) Forum.
The CBPR system is an international certification system that certifies that companies meet certain protection requirements for cross-border personal data. Countries and regions recognized to participate in this system register certification bodies, which then assess and certify companies based on their applications. The CBPR system has been implemented as a mechanism within APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). However, on April 21, 2022, a framework called the "Global CBPR Forum" was declared, aiming to promote smooth cross-border transfer of personal data and interoperability of regulations among countries and regions beyond the confines of APEC. Since then, 10 countries and regions, including our country, have been working towards establishing a new corporate certification system within the forum to facilitate broader cross-border transfer of personal data.
METI (in Japanese):

Fujitsu introduces ‘explainable AI’ for use in genomic medicine and cancer treatment planning
Fujitsu today announced the development of explainable AI technology that automatically draws on data in multiple formats, including text, images, and numerical data, to create knowledge graphs that will help users to more easily draw meaning from large-scale data sets with high accuracy for areas including medicine.
To confirm the effectiveness of this technology, Fujitsu tested it on several key benchmarks from the medical field, including for lung cancer type classification and breast cancer patient survival prediction. These tests confirmed that Fujitsu’s technology can accurately support the identification of two main types of lung cancer, for example, by illuminating the factors behind the pathological classification based on key visual cues.
Fujitsu has also developed a technology to extract and train algorithms on the distinct features of images with completely different depictions of objects and to make highly accurate judgments. It is anticipated that this technology can be applied to train AI to support highly accurate assessments from pathological images for which sufficient training data cannot be prepared.

Sony Develops Proprietary Microsurgery Assistance Robot
Sony Group Corporation (Sony) announced the development of a microsurgery assistance robot capable of automatic surgical instrument exchange and precision control. The prototype will be unveiled at the Sony booth during the 2024 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2024), which opens in Yokohama on May 13.
Factors such as a shrinking workforce caused by an aging society have resulted in a serious shortage of medical practitioners, who face an increased workload in the medical field. Against this backdrop, in the field of surgery where high skill levels are required, the use of surgical robots that assist with precision operations is expected to reduce surgeon workloads and help promote the spread of advanced medical services.
The prototype was developed by Sony's R&D team for technology development to assist in microsurgical procedures for use in conjunction with a microscope, etc., to work on extremely small tissues, such as veins and nerves. The movements of the surgeons' hands and fingers captured with a highly sensitive control device are replicated on a small surgical instrument that operates smoothly, akin to the movement of the human wrist. Practical challenges with conventional surgical assistant robots include interruptions and delays in surgery due to manually exchanging surgical instruments, but the R&D team has developed a system that allows for the automatic exchange of these parts through miniaturizing them. In so doing, the R&D team has been seeking the possibility to allow the robot to assist in a wide variety of surgical procedures, enabling more medical practitioners to perform microsurgeries that require extremely delicate operations in the future.

Resonac Participates Semiconductor Assembly Test Automation and Standardization Research Association (SATAS)
Resonac Corporation (President: Hidehito Takahashi, hereinafter “Resonac”) has started to participate in the “Semiconductor Assembly Test Automation and Standardization Research Association” (hereinafter “SATAS”), which aims to automate processes of packaging, assembly and testing in production of semiconductor integrated circuits (hereinafter “back-end processes”)
SATAS was established on April 16, 2024. It consists of 15 organizations including standard-setting organizations and private enterprises. SATAS aims to establish technologies for automation of back-end processes and standard specifications for back-end processes, develop equipment for back-end processes, and verify pilot lines. STATAS’s final goal is to put fully automated system for back-end processes into practical use by 2028.
As a semiconductor manufacturer, Resonac will accelerate SATAS’s technical development by utilizing the company’s expertise and experiences accumulated through R&D on leading-edge semiconductor packaging technologies and back-end processes.

Mitsui to invest in Vertical Integration of its power value chain in Texas, USA
Mitsui is pursuing Vertical Integration of its power value chain from generation to retail in Texas and is now developing a solar power plant in Hill County. The power generated by the plant will be supplied in the wholesale market and to industrial customers through Mitsui’s fully-owned subsidiary, Mitsui & Co. Energy Marketing and Services (USA), Inc. (”MEMS”). Through MEMS, 150 MW of battery storage will also be utilized to address the intermittent nature of solar power generation to meet customer’s demand. Investment in this initiative is expected to total approximately JPY 30 billion. With the U.S. renewable energy market expected to grow, Mitsui will seek the scale of vertically integrated power portfolio in Texas. Leveraging its natural gas trading capabilities, MEMS entered the power trading business in the U.S. in 2018. In 2021, MEMS started solar power offtake in West Texas and has built a track record of trading power in the Texas electricity market. In response to increased demand for renewable energy, MEMS obtained the license for retail electric provider in Texas in 2023 supporting customers’ decarbonization goals. Mitsui will expand its business integration from upstream to downstream along the power supply value chain by leveraging its diverse platforms and solutions, as well as the knowledge it has accumulated in the power generation business in Japan and overseas.

Mitsui is working to transform its power generation asset portfolio. To that end, the company is developing large-scale solar, onshore and offshore wind, and distributed power generation projects that meet regional demand. In its Midterm Corporate Plan for 2026, Mitsui has identified the Global Energy Transition as one of its strategic initiatives and its business operations will assist with the global decarbonization transition by supplying clean electricity derived from renewable energy sources. Through this investment, Mitsui will contribute to a society in harmony with the environment.
Mitsui & Co.:

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