As Japan scraps travel restrictions, tech investments come pouring in
As the world moves back to normality and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries like Japan are still taking a cautious approach to opening up their borders and enabling quarantine-free travel. The reality is though, countries that have fully opened their borders and scrapped quarantine requirements have seen an influx of tourists coming in.
In fact, the tourism industry in some countries is slowly starting to return to pre-pandemic levels. And with that, businesses are also booming and demand for technology is also increasing to meet rising customer demands post-pandemic.
Japan, which had already relaxed some requirements previously, has now enabled visa-free travel entry to the country. Both businesses and tourists are expected to experience increased activities since the announcement was made. Reports indicate that once again, tourists are flocking to popular stores in Tokyo, looking to get the best bargain.
At the same time, the tech industry in Japan is also seeing a huge uplift from the travel and tourism boom. Both Google and AWS have made significant announcements to increase their investments in the country to boost the delivery of digital services there.
In a blog post, Sundar Pichai, Google CEO stated that the tech company will open its first data center in Japan by 2023. As Japan was also home to the first foreign office by Google, Pichai said the data center will be located in Inzai City, Chiba. This is also the company’s third data center in Asia after Taiwan and Singapore.
“The Chiba data center is part of a US$730 million investment in infrastructure that began last year and will continue through 2024. That includes the Topaz subsea cable, which we expect to be ready for service in 2023, and will become the first fiber cable to connect Japan with the west coast of Canada. Our existing Google Cloud Platform regions, in Tokyo and Osaka, provide storage and services for Japanese businesses. And according to a recent Analysys Mason study, Google’s network infrastructure investments in Japan, both past and present, could enable an additional US$303 billion in GDP between 2022 and 2026,” Pichai said.
Pichai also commented on their skills development programs in Singapore to boost the tech skills in the island-state. This includes the Japan Reskilling Consortium, a collaboration between business, governments and the nonprofit sector, providing skills training in areas like artificial intelligence and digital marketing and a job-matching service to help trainees find work opportunities.
“We’ve also launched a new program to help Japanese companies develop a workplace culture that fosters innovation — with support from Google tailored to different businesses’ needs. We’ll keep building on these initiatives and partnerships from here,” he added.
From Google to AWS, Japan poised for digital greatness
Meanwhile, Tadao Nagasaki, President of Amazon Web Services Japan, has revealed the size of investments the company has made across national infrastructure development projects and their estimated economic impact. According to Nagasaki, in 2022 alone, AWS made ¥348 billion in capital and operational investments in its data centers in Japan. This infrastructure has supported over 20,300 full-time jobs at third-party vendors, in skilled positions.
“AWS was among the first cloud service providers to be certified under Japan’s Information System Security Management and Assessment Program (ISMAP) program, a government initiative that assesses the security of public cloud services and sets a baseline requirement for government procurement,” said Nagasaki.
Nagasaki highlighted that these initiatives and investments represent AWS’s long-term and continuing commitment to Japan by building world-leading infrastructure, collaborating with local Japanese companies, and committing to digital skills and jobs in Japan.
Nagasaki also mentioned several Japanese customers, from large enterprises to startups and public sector organizations, are using AWS to drive the DX agenda in industries such as manufacturing, automotive, and financial services, as well as healthcare and citizen services.
“In 2021 and 2022, Japan Digital Agency (DA) selected AWS as one of the cloud service providers to support Government Cloud, which delivers common cloud infrastructure that central government agencies, local governments, and other government organizations can use. Access to our global cloud infrastructure also means that Japanese customers have greater access to the global digital economy, enabling more Japanese digital exports and greater digital innovation in Japan,” added Nagasaki.
Nagasaki also pointed out that AWS is deeply invested in helping Japan unlock its cloud potential by addressing the digital skills gap through AWS education programs, training, and certification. AWS-commissioned research by AlphaBeta shows that cloud and cybersecurity skills will be the top two most sought-after digital skills by Japanese employers by 2025. The tech giant has already trained over 400,000 individuals in Japan with cloud skills since 2017, providing them with in-demand cloud skills and best practices to help learners and organizations innovate in the cloud.
Apart from Google and AWS, other tech companies have also been part of the country’s tech development. Local Japanese tech giants like Fujitsu continue to innovate as well in a variety of fields, with quantum computing being a key focus area. The semiconductor industry in Japan is also expected to see continued investments, especially with demand for chips increasing.
With the country now opening up, the tech skills shortage in the country may eventually be solved. Either way, Japan has remained on top when it comes to tech innovation and the new travel regulations will only boost the country’s capabilities to deliver better outcomes in the future.