Japan to Sell ‘Smart City’ Services to SE Asian Cities

Yomiuri Shimbun file photos
The Japanese flag

The government has decided to market Japan’s comprehensive technologies and services for “smart cities,” a next-generation city model that optimizes the use of cutting-edge telecommunications, to Southeast Asian countries.

By the end of this year, the government will conduct an aptitude survey on what kind of services will be needed for the endeavor in 26 cities in 10 countries that the government regards as the most important markets. It will use the survey results to encourage domestic companies in various industry sectors to venture into the market. Related expenses will be included in the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2020.

In the smart city model, basic infrastructure, such as homes, companies and cars, and social infrastructure, including electricity, gas and public transport and schools, are interconnected and provide data. By collecting and analyzing this data on consumption and flows of people, smart cities can realize better services and achieve greater energy efficiency.

In Southeast Asian countries, populations tend to cluster in and around big cities. Therefore, the government concluded that the use of information technology could be useful as measures for solving traffic jams, environmental issues and other problems.

The government also has an incentive to compete with China’s government-monitored smart city scheme by promoting the protection of personal information.

The government expects a wide range of items will be exported under the project. They include public transport systems using signal controls, measures against cyber attacks, security measures via surveillance cameras, cashless payments and smart grids — next-generation power grids that efficiently manage and supply power.

By the end of the year, the government will ask Ho Chi Min City, Phnom Penh and some other cities to propose what kind of systems they need to solve problems in their urban policies. Based on the proposals, the government will work with each city and together write up a basic plan for urban development.

In 2019, the government set up a public and private council to market services related to smart cities overseas, together with about 270 companies and organizations, including Hitachi, Ltd. and MUFG Bank, Ltd.

Based on the master plan, the government is considering looking for companies that can provide necessary services through the council and implementing demonstrations of the services and provide training and technical support in the Southeast Asian countries.

Smart city projects in Japan include Woven City, which Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to start building in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, in February 2021.

Toward the realization of smart cities, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry started in fiscal 2019 supporting 43 projects, such as the operation of self-driving buses near Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The day when smart cities will be in practical use is coming close.