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  • At this bank in Tokyo, Nao, Sota and Pepper are here to help customers and entertain them.

  • At the airport, this robot is helping passengers to get around.

  • And at this hotel, this robot is helping guests with directions.

  • Japan is obsessed with robots.

  • Walk into a bank or restaurant or department store; they're starting to work for you.

  • They're even performing for you.

  • Wait, what about the threat of automation taking away jobs?

  • Well here it's quite the opposite.

  • In fact the prime minister unveiled reforms with hopes the robot market will reach 21

  • billion dollars by 2020.

  • The goal?

  • To be the largest society in the world supported by robotic technology.

  • And it's not a matter of efficiency or cost savings as much as it might actually be about survival.

  • You see, Japan has a chronic labor shortage.

  • The service sector here accounts for about 70 percent of Japan's economic output.

  • Yet labor productivity is 40 percent lower than in the US.

  • This makes it hard for restaurants to raise wages and puts a strain on the industry sector.

  • Places like McDonald's are cutting back on the number of 24 hour outlets.

  • So economists say Japan either needs to accept more immigrants or bring in the robots.

  • Which brings us to Japan's second big issue.

  • Birth rates are on the decline.

  • Its overall population is now declining at the fastest rate globally yet people are living

  • longer than ever.

  • Just take a look at this.

  • Japan sells more adult diapers than baby diapers every year.

  • And fewer workers to support an aging population means poor economic growth.

  • So robots here are seen much less of a nice to have as they are a must have.

  • But also Japan's cultural acceptance of robots is much higher than most places.

  • In English, a robot is defined as a type of programmable machine.

  • But in Japanese the technical definition is just a controllable artificial human.

  • Not as scary, right?

  • That could explain why there's so many cute robots being developed.

  • Or put another way, a cute controllable artificial human.

  • But if you think robots are ready to completely take over.

  • Well think again.

  • They haven't fully proven themselves just yet.

  • In fact, two of the robots I tried to visit that had gained global headlines were actually

  • no longer employed.

  • So research and development of robots doesn't necessarily mean successful implementation.

  • But that's not to say that all types aren't at least being tested and even deployed.

  • This is RoboHan.

  • He arrived on the market last year and actually replaces your cell phone doing everything

  • from making calls, snapping a selfie and he can even use his head as a projector.

  • Of course, it doesn't fit in your pocket, and it might not be easy to take around with you.

  • But that's not point.

  • The developers say it's meant to feel like a companion device.

  • I just wish I understood Japanese.

  • In Tokyo, Uptin Saiidi CNBC.

At this bank in Tokyo, Nao, Sota and Pepper are here to help customers and entertain them.

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日本はなぜロボットにこだわるのか?| CNBCが解説します (Why is Japan obsessed with robots? | CNBC Explains)

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    PENG に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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