For decades Japan has held the ambition of becoming an international leader in digitalization. The e-Japan strategy launched in 2001, was designed to make Japan an “IT-superpower”, and a government statement from 2014 dealt with Japan as “The World’s most advanced IT-nation 2016-2020”. Additionally, there have been numerous strategies for the digitalization of the Japanese public sector.
The 2020 Olympics were expected to showcase Japan as a digital front-runner, a Society 5.0. These Olympic plans can therefore be seen to parallel the 1964 Olympics, where Japan re-emerged as a modern, industrial nation and impressed the international community with its shinkansen trains, advanced architecture, etc.
The 2020 Olympics are now postponed, and Japan’s digital advancements no longer seem quite as impressive as planned either. However, there are signs that the major and sudden changes brought on by Covid-19 have highlighted several of the actual obstacles for promoting digitalization in Japanese society. The discussion on how best to deal with them has now begun.
How come Japan has faced such difficulties in achieving its goals in the digital sphere, and why might Covid-19 perhaps be a greater opportunity than the Olympics for making actual progress? These are the issues this presentation will attempt to clarify and address.