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  • 1. MARKET & TECHNOLOGY FOLLOW UP IN JAPAN FOR TEKES INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TEAM 28th January, 2004 Peter Westerstråhle 1. Economy & policies ............................................................................................................................... 2 1.1. Trends in economy and industry ................................................................................................. 2 1.2. E-Japan strategy .......................................................................................................................... 2 1.3. University reform ........................................................................................................................ 4 2. Telecommunications in Japan ................................................................................................................ 4 2.1. Internet usage .............................................................................................................................. 4 2.2. Mobile communications .............................................................................................................. 6 2.3. Wireless LAN .............................................................................................................................14 3. Software industry in Japan ....................................................................................................................15 4. Electronics .............................................................................................................................................17 4.1. RFID tags ...................................................................................................................................17 4.2. Low voltage / low power technology .........................................................................................19 4.3. Micro fuel cells as power source ................................................................................................21 4.4. Environmental issues ..................................................................................................................22 4.5. Nanoelectronics ..........................................................................................................................22 4.6. Microfluidics & Microsystems ...................................................................................................23 4.7. Networked home appliances .......................................................................................................24 5. Digital media in Japan ...........................................................................................................................24 5.1. Digital TV ..................................................................................................................................24 5.2. Electronic paper ..........................................................................................................................27 6. Space technology and positioning .........................................................................................................28 7. Healthcare applications .........................................................................................................................30 7.1. Examples of advanced ICT utilization in hospitals ....................................................................30 The University of Tokyo Hospital .........................................................................................................30 Kameda Medical Center ........................................................................................................................31 Kitasato Institute Hospital .....................................................................................................................32 7.2. Electronic medical records .........................................................................................................33 7.3. Networks of medical institutions ................................................................................................34 7.4. Telemedicine ..............................................................................................................................35 7.5. Medical Mobile Multimedia Information System ......................................................................35 7.6. Mobile Remote Patient Monitoring ............................................................................................36 1
  • 2. 1. Economy & policies 1.1. Trends in economy and industry After over 10 years of stagnation the Japanese economy is gradually showing signs of recovery, and is expected to expand by 2% in the fiscal year 2003. Corporate profits are improving, owing especially to growth in USA and China, which has resulted in increased capital investments. However, some problems still remain, like deflation, joblessness and bad loans, and it is considered that Japan continue its regulatory reforms to sustain the growth. As an important indicator of the starting economic recovery in the electronics and information technology fields, the PC shipments in Japan for the first half of fiscal 2003 increased 13 % from the same period a year ago. Especially strong boost to the recovery is expected also from consumer electronics products such as mobile phones, digital cameras, television sets, car navigation systems and DVD players and recorders. According to a survey by Nikkei, 90% of Japanese semiconductor and electronic parts manufacturers have said to increase their output in year 2004. An important feature of future consumer digital appliances will be networking, i.e. wired and wireless interoperable networks by the various appliances. This will emphasize the importance of standardization among the various manufacturers. 1.2. E-Japan strategy The e-Japan Strategy was formulated by the Japanese government in 2001 and its goal is to make Japan the most advanced ICT country in the world by 2005. In the mid-term evaluation of the programme carried out in July 2003 it was found out that many of the targets concerning infrastructure had already been achieved or that development was already well on the way. This resulted in e-Japan Strategy II and e-Japan Priority Policy Program, which shifted the emphasis of the programme from infrastructure evolution to effective IT-utilization and services. In order to achieve practical utilization of IT it is important to develop real applications for users. Following is a list of 7 leading fields for the promotion of effective IT utilization identified by the government as well as examples of concrete objectives in these fields: Medical services - establishment of a certification system and approval of the transfer of electronic patient- care information over the network and storage of information by external organizations (by 2005) - start on-line procedures for claiming medical reimbursements (by 2004) Foods - implementation of a traceability system for beef and other foodstuffs (by 2005) - establishment of EDI system for fresh food distribution (by 2005) Lifestyle 2
  • 3. - implementation of a remote video conversation system to single senior citizens (by 2008) - implementation of remote reading of gas/water/electricity meters (by 2005) Finance for SMEs - establishment of on-line procedures for using credit guarantee (by 2005) Knowledge - triple the number of courses offering distance learning through IT (by 2005) - infrastructure development to enable distribution of commercial broadcasting programs on the Internet (by 2003) and all other forms of non-commercial content (by 2008) Employment and labor - increase to 1 000 000 the number of people who annually gain employment through electronic means (by 2005) - to have 20% of the working population working as teleworkers under appropriate working environment (by 2010) Public services - construction of a one-stop, user-oriented government portal site (by 2005) - optimization of administrative organizations‟ working systems and processes (by 2005) In addition to service development, also infrastructure development continues. This means not only broadband infrastructure, but efforts will also be made to promote R&D and advanced use ubiquitous network technologies and services. Realization of ubiquitous network is estimated to bring the following benefits: - creation of new industries and markets worth of 276 billion USD in 2005 and 766 billion USD in 2010 - increasing safety and convenience of the society - improvements in various fields, such as education, ecology and employment - strengthening Japan‟s industrial competitiveness Also one ambitious goal of the e-Japan Strategy II is to enable high-speed WLAN usage in whole Japan by 2008. More information about e-Japan Strategy and e-Japan Strategy II can be found at: The latest suggestion to strengthen Japan‟s competitiveness in the field of information technology calls for an administrative change. Prime Minister Koizumi has instructed ministers in his cabinet to consider the integration of the IT sections of different ministries possibly into a new ministry, kind of „IT Ministry‟, in order to better coordinate regulation and development in the field. 3
  • 4. 1.3. University reform Japanese universities will go through a big transformation in 2004. The 99 national universities in Japan will be transformed into Independent Administrative Institutions, with more autonomy and private-sector-style management, starting in April 2004. With this reform the government aims at improving the quality of university education and research as well as their management. The government also promotes competition among universities by giving subsidies to them according to the results of a third-party evaluation. As for the scope of university activities, the government is planning further deregulation of universities‟ investment in technology licensing organizations in order to increase industry-academia collaboration. Japanese universities have already been active in becoming more business-like institutions. Currently there are 36 TLOs at Japanese universities, and their combined licensing revenues totaled 400 million JPY (about 3 MEUR) in the fiscal 2002. According to preliminary data, this figure would be almost 800 million JPY in 2003. By the number of technology transfers, University of Tokyo has been the most successful university in 2003, followed by Tohoku University, Keio University, Nihon University, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Waseda University. In response to the changing operating environment, Japanese universities are also forming tie-ups with their foreign counterparts. For example, Kyoto University is set to launch an industry- academy collaboration liaison office with Fudan University in Shanghai, and Kobe University plans to set up a similar unit at University of Washington in Seattle. 2. Telecommunications in Japan 2.1. Internet usage The number of Internet users by different access methods was the following at the end of October 2003: - DSL subscribers 9 590 349 - FTTH subscribers 756 211 - CATV Internet subscribers 2 376 000 - Dial-up Connections on Telephone Lines 19 347 930 4
  • 5. Internet subscriptions by different access methods October 2003, total 32 070 490 20 000 000 15 000 000 10 000 000 5 000 000 FTTH DSL CATV Dial-up on telephone lines Internet subscriptions in Japan The number of broadband subscriptions has been increasing by about 400 000 new subscriptions per month and broadband fees Tokyo are said to be the cheapest in the world (0.09 USD/100 kbps). The monthly increase has continued to fall since April 2003 when it was a record high 562 455. In contrast, however, new subscriptions to FTTH services have been increasing monthly and currently the number of FTTH subscriptions increases by about 70 000 every month. The subscribers of cable Internet services have been increasing steadily by 50 000 people per month. The number of dial-up internet connection service users has been decreasing since the peak in May 2002, when the number of users amounted to 21 540 000. These subscription figures are, however, far below the number of households that would be able to have a high-speed internet access. According to the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT), 35 million Japanese households could have access to the Internet by using DSL connections, 23 million by cable TV and almost 18 million by FTTH connections. This gap between usage potential and actual usage has been one reason behind the focus shift in the government‟s „e-Japan Strategy‟ from establishment of infrastructure to promotion of applications using IT. As for current usage of Internet connections, IP telephony has proved to be a particularly popular application. Not only consumers but also many Japanese companies are shifting to using IP phones due to the pressure to cut costs. According to some estimates about 12 000 companies in Japan started using IP telephony in 2003, and several large companies have launched projects to replace their phone lines with IP telephony solutions. Currently Japan is estimated to have about 5.3 million Net phone lines, and the figure is expected to rise to 28 million in four years. Also the dominant regional phone carriers NTT East and NTT West have announced their plan to start offering IP telephony services, and their entry into the market will probably further accelerate the adoption of IP telephony. The increasing popularity of IP telephony has also spurred interest in Power over Ethernet technology. At least Sanyo and Sony are developing IP phones with PoE capability. The possibilities offered by broadband connections are getting attention also in the health care and medical field as a potential means of improving the operational efficiency and quality of the 5
  • 6. services in the sector. Especially sharing of electronic medical records (EMR) and other data between institutions is being studied, more details can be found in Chapter 7 of this report. Online gaming is one application field that is expected to grow strongly along with increasing Internet penetration at households. According to Digital Content Association of Japan, the online game market was about 1.4 billion JPY in 2001, 6 billion JPY in 2002 and is expected to total 22 billion JPY in 2003. In addition to boosting broadband usage domestically, Japan is committed to the „Asia Broadband Program‟ which aims at making Asia the leading region in ICT. The program involves, among other things, facilitating transition of networks to IPv6 ones and significantly increasing information flows between Asia and North America and Asia and Europe. As the first R&D project pursuant to the Asia Broadband Program the MPHPT has adopted a proposal for “R&D on Asia Broadband Satellite Key Technologies”. The project will help establish seamless satellite links with terrestrial networks, and the R&D activities will be carried out in relation to the following themes: - IPv6-ready large-scale multicasting technology - IPv6-ready dynamic band assignment and management technologies In addition to Japan, research institutes and universities from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are taking part in the project. More information about the Asia Broadband Program can be found at: 2.2. Mobile communications Market situation At the end of November 2003 the number of mobile phone subscribers amounted to 79 280 700 indicating a 62% population penetration. Currently 16% of all mobile phone subscribers are 3G subscribers. According to some analysts the 3G subscribers will outnumber 2G subscribers in Japan in 2006. 6
  • 7. Mobile phone subscriptions by system Total 79 280 700 CDMA2000 1x 14% W-CDMA 2% cdmaOne 6% PDC 78% Mobile phone systems in Japan Starting on 1st October 2003, the name of the operator J-Phone was officially changed to Vodafone. In August 2003 Vodafone sold the fixed line network (Japan Telecom) it had acquired to American Ripplewood Holdings, Ltd. Although NTT DoCoMo is still the market leader among Japanese operators, in terms of new subscribers KDDI seems to be leading the game at the moment. KDDI attracted more new subscriptions than its Japanese rivals in November 2003. It gained altogether 239 300 new users compared with 63 800 for NTT DoCoMo and 35 500 for Vodafone. Apart from Vodafone, the subscriber gains are attributed to growth in 3G subscriptions, while the number of 2G subscriptions has been falling. KDDI signed up 509 400 CDMA2000 1x users compared with 289 300 W-CDMA subscribers by NTT DoCoMo and 4 600 W-CDMA subscribers by Vodafone. Mobile phone subscriptions by operator Total 79 280 700 Vodafone 19% NTT DoCoMo KDDI Group group 24% 58% Mobile operators’ market shares in Japan 7
  • 8. The Japanese mobile market is not saturated quite yet, but the growth seems to be slowing somewhat. Although the mobile penetration rate is not higher than 62%, in terms of mobile internet access Japan is in the top position in the world. The number of mobile internet subscribers is 67 207 200 or 85% of all mobile phone subscribers. This is a few percentage units ahead of South Korea and about twice as high as in China. Mobile phone and mobile internet subscriptions in Japan 80 000 000 70 000 000 60 000 000 50 000 000 40 000 000 30 000 000 20 000 000 10 000 000 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Nov- 03 Mobile phone subscriptions Mobile internet subscriptions Mobile internet subscriptions in Japan Mobile internet service subscriptions by service Total 67 207 200 Vodafone Live / Vodafone 19% Ezweb / KDDI i-mode / NTT 21% DoCoMo 60% Mobile internet services in Japan 8
  • 9. In terms of 3G, the CDMA2000 1x service by KDDI has continued its steady growth, but in the past few months also the W-CDMA service by NTT DoCoMo has shown signs of stronger growth after a slow start. 3G subscriptions in Japan Total 12 889 500 14 000 000 13 000 000 12 000 000 11 000 000 10 000 000 9 000 000 8 000 000 7 000 000 6 000 000 5 000 000 4 000 000 3 000 000 2 000 000 1 000 000 Nov Nov Nov Oct-01 Oct Oct Dec Dec Jan-02 Jan-03 Jul Jul Feb Jun Aug Feb Jun Aug Apr Apr May May Sep Sep Mar Mar NTT DoCoMo (W-CDMA) KDDI (CDMA2000 1x) Vodafone (W-CDMA) Total Growth of 3G subscriptions in Japan What is significant is that 3G seems to be finally picking up also in terms of ARPU. According to data released by NTT DoCoMo during the first half of fiscal 2003 the ARPU for the company‟s 3G users was 10 120 JPY (80 EUR) while for the 2G users during the same period it was 8 060 JPY (63 EUR). In the fiscal 2002 the ARPU for 3G users was 7 740 JPY and for 2G users 8 120 JPY. This is taken as indication that many of the problems associated with the 3G service earlier have now been solved or at least significant improvements have been made. Voice 76% 2G 8060 JPY (~63 €) Data 24% (8120 JPY in FY2002) Voice 66% 3G 10120 JPY (~80 €) Data 34% (7740 JPY in FY2002) NTT DoCoMo ARPU in 1H of 2003 9
  • 10. Technology development 28th November 2003 marked a milestone in mobile data transmission speed development as KDDI launched its new CDMA2000 1x WIN (CDMA2000 1x EV DO) 3G service, which enables data transmission speeds up to 2.4 Mbps. This is six times faster than the W-CDMA services provided by NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone. The CDMA2000 1x WIN service is initially available in Kanto, Chubu and Kansai regions, but it will be expanded to major cities nationwide by end of March 2004 (national population coverage 70%). In order to support the content volume expected to grow with the availability of high speed data communications, the operator has introduced a flat charging system which is the first fixed packet communications service rate plan in the industry. The monthly charge is 4 200 JPY (33 EUR). CDMA 1X WIN offers rich content services which have been made possible by the high data transmission speed. EZChannel is a program distribution service offering a variety of multimedia content (up to 3 Mbps) such as TV programs or magazines. At launch, the programs offered cover entertainment, including music, movies, and shows, and on-line books and learning courses. As a new feature CDMA 1X WIN supports SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) which enables a larger freedom of expression combining movies, animations, still images, sound and text data. CDMA 1X WIN also supports the dedicated EZAppli (JAVATM) viewer and various types of electronic book formats arranged for mobile phones, enabling electronic magazines, cartoons, and other similar media on CDMA 1X WIN handsets. The downloadable content size of movie clips will be increased to up to 1.5 Mbyte, which will extend content replay approximately 3 minutes. Live video distribution function supports VB series video network video camera by Canon and Bread Stream RT MPEG-4 network video camera by IO Data. The following figure shows future mobile technology development in Japan based on the information released by the operators. Mobile communications – Technology roadmap 2003 2005 2010 VSF-OFCDM & W-CDMA HSDPA NTT DoCoMo 384 kbps 14 Mbps VSCRF-CDMA 100 Mbps CDMA2000 1x CDMA2000 1x EV DO KDDI 144 kbps 2.4 Mbps Vodafone W-CDMA 384 kbps Mobile phone technology development in Japan In the past few months, there has also been interest in the TD-CDMA standard. According to some sources Multimedia Research Institute Corporation (MRIC) is already conducting tests on the next generation mobile phone service, while Softbank and eAccess have also applied for a licence to test TD-CDMA services. NTT Communications and Cable and Wireless Group are also 10
  • 11. considering providing 3G services with TD-CDMA in Japan. At the moment, however, it is unclear whether the Japanese telecommunications regulators are willing to open the market for further competition. TD-CDMA is basically similar to TD-SCDMA that is being considered in China as a 3G standard (along with W-CDMA and CDMA 2000 1X). According to MRIC it plans to begin the business with a data communication service, not a voice communication service. It is targeting customers who use PCs or PDAs to send and receive data through modems or PC cards. The data transmission speeds of TD-CDMA service will be 1.5 Mbps uplink and 3 Mbps downlink. Although Japan has the benefit of earlier introduction of 3G, it seems that the industry first wants to fully exploit the 3G before starting to introduce 4G commercially. According to the president of NTT DoCoMo, for example, it will still take 10 years before 4G will be launched commercially in Japan. However, development of 4G technology continues strong with NTT DoCoMo apparently leading the way. The following figure summarises the company‟s design objectives for 4G mobile communications system. New services by new capabilities -smooth development and rapid deployment of new services -seamless connection and handover between heterogeneous access systems Enhanced services by improved performance 100 Mbps (mobile environment peak rate) 1 Gbps (indoor environment peak rate • information bit rate 10 times that of 3G • system capacity 1/10 to 1/100 per bit • cost all-IP • base station network (multiple QoS classes, IPv6 support) • transport system • connection delay time 500 ms or less • transmission delay time 50 ms or less Objectives for capability and performance of 4G system (Source NTT DoCoMo Technical Journal, Sept. 2003) In-depth discussion about the related technologies can be found in the following articles in NTT DoCoMo Technical Journal Vol. 5 No. 2 September 2003: 11
  • 12. - The Fourth-Generation Mobile Communication System - Broadband Packet Wireless Access - Broadband Wireless Access Technology using VSF-OFCDM and VSCRF-CDMA - Technology for Efficient Packet Access in the Data Link and Physical Layers - Wireless QoS Control Technology - IP-Based Mobile Management Technology Handsets As for new capabilities in mobile handsets, emphasis on visual communications continues strong. Some cameras equipped in mobile handsets have already a resolution of 2 megapixels. Cameras in mobile phones are becoming a standard feature, and according to some sources currently about 75% of new handsets sold in Japan are camera phones. D505iS by Mitsubishi Electric with maximum resolution of 2 megapixels (weight 113 g) The boom in camera phones has given birth to a new business of vending machine type printing stations for printing photos taken by mobile phones. Some of the machines not only print ordinary photos, but also photos on stickers or business cards. A few companies, e.g. Bandai and Fuji Photo Film, are developing compact portable printers for the same purpose. It is expected that as the performance and capabilities of camera phones become similar to digital cameras the competition between camera phones and digital cameras will become fierce. After camera phones, mobile phones with television, particularly digital, broadcast receiving function are predicted to be the next big hit. NEC has supplied Vodafone with a handset with an embedded TV tuner for receiving terrestrial analog television broadcasts. The service started in December 2003 and it allows users to watch broadcasts for 1 hour before having to recharge the battery. TV känny V601N by NEC, first handset in Japan with an embedded analog TV tuner (weight 119 g) 12
  • 13. NEC has also developed a working prototype of a mobile phone equipped with a receiver for terrestrial digital television broadcasting. Terrestrial digital TV broadcasting was started in Japan in December 2003 and it is expected that programmes designed specifically for portable terminals will be offered after a couple of years, perhaps as early as 2005. The prototype features a portable antenna for digital TV broadcasting, UHF tuner and OFDM decoding LSI developed by NEC for W-CDMA mobile phone. With this LSI, low-power consumption and ultra-small package has been achieved. Sanyo, too, has developed a prototype CDMA2000 1X type mobile phone with a built-in digital TV broadcast receiving module. Sanyo’s prototype for digital TV broadcast reception NTT DoCoMo has announced that it will incorporate IC cards in some of its FOMA 3G phones, which will enable their use as tickets or for payments. The cards will be based on the FeliCa technology developed by Sony, which is already used in a total of 17 million smart cards in Japan for Suica automated ticketing system and for making payments at some 2 700 convenience stores throughout Japan. NTT DoCoMo has said it will market phones with smart cards by the middle of 2004. 2 months after NTT DoCoMo‟s announcement, also KDDI revealed that it is working with Hitachi on equipping mobile phones with IC cards. KDDI, too, has adopted the FeliCa technology developed by Sony. The adoption of FeliCa technology by NTT DoCoMo, which accounts for about 60% of the Japanese mobile phone market, and KDDI, increase the likelihood that FeliCa will effectively become the industry standard. Progress has also been made in mobile payment, which is expected to increase consumers‟ confidence in online payments. KDDI has conducted field tests on a payment service „Kei-Credit‟, which stores credit data on a User Identity Module (UIM). The user inserts the UIM in a mobile phone, and the service reads the data via software installed inside the phone. Authentication systems based on fingerprints have emerged, too. JCB Co, Ltd has conducted a trial that makes use of the fingerprint authentication capability provided in mobile handsets when users access the MyJCB site for cardholders with mobile accounts. 13
  • 14. Fingerprint authentication for mobile payment. The user accesses the MyJCB site, starts the authentication "i-Appli" Java applet and places his/her index finger on the fingerprint sensor on the mobile phone. If authentication is successful, the user can then access the website. All in all, the quest for the killer application continues in the mobile industry and companies seem to be willing to try almost anything to find a successful service. A case in point is the Bow- Lingual Connect service developed by Takara and Index for Vodafone: it is a service that can convert dog barks into text and expressions. If a customer comes within 40 cm of a dog, barks will be analyzed resulting in text and illustrations of six different dog feelings on the mobile phone display. 2.3. Wireless LAN Despite fewer than expected users at the moment, analysts estimate solid growth for the WLAN service market in the coming years, led by expected strong demand by individual users. With increased usage of high-speed Internet services at home, more and more users are linking up their PCs via WLAN networks. In the fiscal 2002 some 690 000 WLAN systems designed for household were shipped in Japan. According to a survey made by Yano Research Institute the WLAN-related equipment market will grow 5% to 41.9 billion JPY in FY 2003 and to 55.6 billion JPY by FY 2005. The growth could be hindered by security concerns, though, and resolving the security problems is seen as the key in the industry. Also the conflicting connection formats between operators and incompatible equipment is one factor slowing the growth of the market, and to tackle this problem a special committee consisting of major electronics manufacturers and operators was set up within the Mobile Computing Promotion Consortium ( The group plans to expand the market by establishing standards for WLAN systems. In addition to the development of wireless IP telephony systems to be used within company WLANs, there are also efforts to develop dual mode WLAN/mobile phones that work both on WLANs and mobile phone network. This kind of dual mode phones would offer high speed access to company servers through WLAN and also work as regular 3G mobile phones outside the office. NEC has already developed a prototype for NTT DoCoMo which aims to commercialize it in the fiscal 2004 to boost its 3G user base. The handset is based on the IEEE802.11b standard, which was originally designed for data communication and therefore the quality of the VoIP communication is still not very good. Also the standby time for WLAN based mobile phones is shorter than those for ordinary mobile phones owing to greater power consumption. 14
  • 15. Not only mobile phone suppliers, but also other companies are planning to equip their products with WLAN mechanism. Sony Computer Entertainment has said that it will add WLAN functionality to its planned mobile video game handset to enable users to play video games online from various locations with access points. Fuji Photo Film has presented a prototype of digital camera with WLAN card, by which the user can directly send the pictures to a PC or a printer. Hitachi has developed a positioning system based on WLAN. The system measures the terminal position to an accuracy of 1-3 meters, which is more accurate than GPS positioning, and it works both indoors and outdoors. Moreover, with a range of 100-200 meters the WLAN based system can monitor larger areas than is possible in Bluetooth or IC tag positioning systems. Ordinary PCs, PDAs or WLAN tags that are compatible with IEEE802.11b standard can used in the system and the location of a device is determined by the difference in arrival times of radio waves to base stations. In case of several devices, they can be distinguished by their IP addresses. Hitachi “AirLocation” Hitachi is considering at the least the following applications for the system: - determining the location of products in factories or warehouses - navigation is sites such as theme parks - locating the closest printer to a mobile terminal - detection of in-house WLAN violators - Hospitals are also one area where great improvements in efficiency are expected to be brought by WLAN applications. For example the University of Tokyo Hospital is using a wireless mobile computing system, in which care personnel can scan a patient‟s bar code identification from the patient‟s wristband by using a handheld computer to instantly access the patient‟s medical history and medication dosage information on the hospital server. More information about this can be found in Chapter 7. 3. Software industry in Japan In Japan Linux seems to be gaining in popularity on many fronts. Fujitsu, IBM Japan and Oki Electric Industry have been commissioned to design a new human resources management system for all government agencies and ministries and they plan to use Linux for this purpose. This is taken as an indication that Linux may later become more widely adopted as the backbone for e- 15
  • 16. government in Japan. Also the Japanese telecommunications giant NTT has announced its plans to install Linux OS on its servers used for billing and customer data management in order to cut operating costs. According to NTT, Linux could also be used as an OS for the routers, which are the central equipment in the next generation IP telephony services which it plans to start offering in 2005. As for consumer electronics devices, Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial cooperated to launch an industry-wide forum to develop next generation Linux for home appliances and to promote its widespread adoption by manufacturers. The CE Linux Forum was started in July 2003 and its members include some of the leading home appliance manufacturers ( The trend towards Linux is also affecting mobile phones. Until now, the majority of Japanese mobile handsets have used either TRON or proprietary OSs, but NEC is currently developing a Linux mobile phone in order to reduce the application development load. On the operator side, NTT DoCoMo is promoting the use of both Linux and Symbian for its 3G handsets in order to reduce production costs and encourage wider adoption of 3G handsets. Fujitsu is already supplying NTT DoCoMo with Symbian OS handsets, while the first Linux handsets are expected to come to the market in late 2004. All the new CDMA 1X WIN handsets sold by KDDI are compatible with BREW. As a countermeasure, Microsoft has entered into partnership with the Japanese TRON association to develop a technology that will enable network appliances to run under both TRON and Windows CE. The partnership is expected to optimize the strength of both operating systems. TRON excels at control of hardware but has few available software applications. Windows, on the other hand, has a good graphical user interface. The T-Engine Forum (http://www.t- had previously started partnership with MontaVista Software to work on Linux applications, but according to T-Engine Forum the partnership with Microsoft does not mean that it would abandon Linux related development, it just wants to keep all alternatives open. Moreover, Japan, China and South Korea have formed an alliance to develop an operating system more suitable to their character-based languages that will probably be modeled after Linux. Also one aim of the new OS development is to make the countries less dependent on Microsoft‟s Windows. In response to grid computing technology development in US, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has started „Business Grid Computing Project‟ to support the development of the technology in Japan. The project is a three-year project lasting until 2005 and it aims to develop a standardized middleware platform to actualize grid computing. METI sees the platform as open and plans to disclose it widely to the public. NEC, Hitachi and Fujitsu have been allotted 2.6 billion JPY in FY 2003 to formulate the framework of the platform. In terms of applications, various business management software as well as software for mobile and embedded systems are considered to have especially good outlook. In these fields, companies such as Works Applications ( and Aplix Corporation ( are getting a lot of attention at the moment. Although game software sales began declining in 2002, there is a lot of interest in game development as broadband connections are considered to offer huge market opportunities for online gaming. Also increasingly sophisticated portable handsets are expected to lead to a growing portable gaming market. As PCs, mobile phones and PDAs become more popular game platforms, software tools that allow easy cross-platform will probably be in high demand. 16
  • 17. 4. Electronics 4.1. RFID tags RFID is considered to be one of the most promising technologies over the next 10 years in several business sectors. The development of RFID technology has been increasing in Japan and its cost has been declining, and both the government and companies are enthusiastically trying to apply it commercially. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is making efforts to standardize RFID technology and it has set up Improvement of Products‟ Traceability Group, which together with other government agencies and companies is conducting the standardization activities. Yano Research Institute estimates the Japanese RFID tag market size by volume to be 14.5 million units in FY 2003 (137% compared with FY 2002), 28.5 million units in FY 2005 and 1.2 billion units in FY 2010. As for demand by different application fields in FY 2003, 41.4% comes from manufacturing, 29.7% from logistics and 6.9% from retailing etc. In FY 2010 logistics is predicted to account for 90% of the total demand. So far, the wider utilization of IC tags has been hampered by the existence of different and incompatible communications protocols and data formats. Standards are being developed to overcome this difficulty, but the field still seems to be divided into two camps: the US-based Auto-ID Center, led by MIT (, and the Ubiquitous ID Center, an electronics industry group centered around the TRON project of the University of Tokyo ( The Auto-ID Center considered its work completed and officially closed on October 26th, 2003. The center transferred its technology to EPCglobal (, which will administer and develop EPC standards from now on. In Japan, the Auto-ID Center is represented by Keio University. In the technology advocated by the Auto-ID Center, only a code is assigned to objects with all the remaining data being stored on the host computer on the network. This helps to minimize the functionalities loaded on the RFID tag and, consequently, to reduce the cost of the tag. The commercialization of this kind of tags is expected to start in cost-oriented applications, for example as replacement for bar codes. The approach of Auto-ID Center would also mean heavier load on the network because of larger amounts of data transmitted. Contrary to this approach, the technology proposed by the Ubiquitous ID Center is based on more sophisticated RFID tags and reader/writer terminals that are able to process information on the spot. This will reduce the load on the network and allows RFID tags to process information in real time. The production cost of tags with more sophisticated functions is naturally higher, and therefore this kind of system is expected find applications first in areas where security and privacy are given highest priority. According to Ubiquitous ID Center the range of applications of RFID tags based on their technology will be much wider than what can be offered in the systems developed by Auto-ID Center. Also, in the concept of Ubiquitous ID Center, there would be less dependency on central databases storing the data related to a specific codes reducing data storage concerns. A critical 17
  • 18. part of the Ubiquitous ID concept is T-Engine, a real-time system development environment based on TRON (The Real-time Operating System Nucleus). The Ubiquitous ID center has established uniform standards governing the specifications, recording format and the wireless communications protocol for IC tags. Some 170 major Japanese companies, including electronics manufacturers and telecommunications carriers, such as NEC, Hitachi and NTT, are members of the Ubiquitous ID Center. As for frequencies, Japan is advocating the 2.45 GHz band for RFID tags, which offers some benefits over the 13.56 MHZ band promoted by ISO. At 2.45 GHZ band, the tags can be made smaller and the reading range is also 1.5 to 2 times the distance in a system using 13.56 MHz. Because of longer ranges than those available at 13.56 MHz, the US is promoting the usage of 915 MHz band, which has the additional advantage of longer wavelength resulting in better performance when reading in object shadows. In Japan, however, this band has already been allocated for mobile telephony and analog multi-channel access, making it not applicable for RFID usage. Miniaturization of RFID tags is also an important consideration for their wider utilization. Hitachi has developed a new mu-chip with a size of 0.3x0.3mm, the production cost of which is currently about 50 JPY/piece. In order to increase their usage, the cost needs to be lowered substantially and the company plans to cut the cost to about 10 JPY/piece by the end of 2003. Hitachi has also pioneered in the development of a version of mu-chip with an embedded antenna, which makes it possible to use it without the need to attach external devices. The dimensions of a mu-chip with internal antenna are 0.4 x 0.4 mm. In October 2003, Ubiquitous ID Center announced that it has developed a new portable terminal called „Ubiquitous Communicator‟ that incorporates wireless communication technologies, including WLAN and Bluetooth as well as IC tag reading capability. Data of IC tags is displayed on the LCD display or output as audio signal to the embedded speaker. „Ubiquitous Communicator‟ is able to read data on tags that use either 2.45 GHZ or 13.56 MHz frequencies if the tags are certified by Ubiquitous ID Center. The device can also retrieve information related to the IC tag from a server on the networks using WLAN or Bluetooth communications. In order to enable utilization of tags in countries with different frequencies, Japanese companies Toppan and Telemidic (owned by NEC) have a developed a dual format tag that can work at both 2.45 GHz and 915 MHz. Some industry experts predict that there will be hard competition between manufacturers to develop dual format tags to facilitate the flow of goods equipped with IC tags between different countries. As for practical applications of IC tags, Maruetsu, a major supermarket chain, has conducted a trial in one of its outlets in which some IC tags were attached to some foodstuffs. Customers could take these items to special terminals in the store that would then display the origin of the item, recipes and other related information. According to Maruetsu, the sales of items with IC tags doubled during the trial. Several other retailers and department stores have announced plans to carry out trials with IC tags within 2004. Sony, together with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and others, is heavily promoting its IC card electronic money called Edy. Some shopping centers have already agreed to accept e- money as payment, and East Japan Railway company is planning to add e-money function to its Suica IC card that currently only serves as a train ticket or commuter pass. There are already more than 6 million Suica cards in use as tickets. In the beginning, the card can be used for payments in shops and restaurants located at stations in greater Tokyo area. 18
  • 19. 4.2. Low voltage / low power technology Research and development of ubiquitous power sources for mobile terminals is accelerating in Japan as usage of various mobile equipment increases. This kind of power sources include not only natural energy such as sun or wind but also user body movement and body heat. Some researchers also looking into utilization of actions like opening and closing of doors as well as utilization of thermal energy generated by components in electronic equipment. Also wireless power transmission is being studied. Key issues in the development of these power sources are boosting output and making the dimensions of generators suitable for mounting on mobile equipment. Miniaturization of existing generator designs is one approach to powering smaller equipment. A Zip Charge solar cell module measuring 110 mm x 57.5 mm, for example, can charge the batteries in a mobile phone in only four hours sufficiently to talk for about an hour. Researchers at Toin University of Yokohama Graduate School have developed a flexible solar cell that can be molded around the curves of cases for mobile phones or other equipment. Wind powered generators are also being made smaller, aiming at uses in illuminating roadway signs or home nightlights. The wind-powered SMG-1001 generator from Systec Corp of Japan, has a propeller diameter of only 200 mm, but generates about 0.3 W at 4 m/s, or about 1.4 W at 10 m/s. It is possible to generate electricity at wind speeds down to about 1.5 m/s. Natural energy may not always be available and therefore Nissho Engineering has developed hand-powered external generators for mobile phones. The system generates power from a rotor, powered by pulling a cord, which has magnets mounted on it. It generates 2.5 W of power by pulling the cord 40 times a minute. The company has also proposed a foot-powered generator, which would mount two generator units of the same type as used in the hand-powered model. 40 strokes per minute would produce an output of at least 10 W. Instead of deliberate power generation, the Furacell sensor developed by USC makes use of a container with steel balls inside, which move when it is shaken. The steel balls roll under inertia, impacting a ceramic piezoelectric device to generate electricity. The power drives a wireless circuit, which notifies the receiver that vibration was detected. The signal is transmitted at about 426 MHz, covered by Japanese regulation for special lower-power wireless transmission. Instantaneous output voltage is about +40 V and the output current is up to 10 mA.The transmitter itself runs on +2.5 V, drawing about 3.5 mA in operation. About 1 mW of transmitting power can be obtained from the piezoelectric device alone and the range is about 100 m in urban environment, or up to 2 km at sea. The transmitted signal is a 16-bit identification code, serving to specify which sensor was activated. Also Hitachi has developed a new technology that generates electricity by using vibrations. The systems makes use of vibrations of several micrometers that occur naturally. Electricity is generated when an electrode fixed on a leaf spring vibrates and its distance from another electrode changes. The company has made a test device measuring 2.5 x 7.0 cm which generated 0.12 μW when vibrations of several micrometers, which occur naturally even in the air inside a quiet building, were used. Although the output is rather low, this power source is available anywhere and Hitachi plans to incorporate it into a sensor to determine, for example the degree of obsolescence of buildings or machines. 19
  • 20. System developed by USC Also, blood sugar and thermocouples are being studied as power supplies for implanted equipment in the human body. Seiko Instruments is experimenting on thermocouples that can achieve an open voltage of +0.2 V for a 1 °C temperature differential, with an output power of 10 μW. Matsushita Electric Industrial is developing „sugar-air battery‟ in which an organic molecule like sugar is used as the fuel. Instead of using internal power generators, another approach is to transmit power wirelessly over short distances. NTT Energy and Environment Systems Laboratories is developing technologies and systems for short-range transmission of power to mobile equipment. The methods under investigation are: - electromagnetic induction - light - sound - radio (such as microwaves) By using electromagnetic induction, an AC current passes through a coil to change a magnetic field, transmitting electricity to the coil on the receiver. In a prototype of the system a card-sized solar cell combined with a Li-polymer rechargeable battery as the transmitter have been used. Power generated by the solar cell is first stored in the Li-polymer battery, and then transmitted to the receiving equipment when needed. By utilizing light, electricity is converted into laser light for transmission. An 800 nm wavelength laser through an optical fiber to prevent light leaks is used. The fiber is a step index (SI) quartz- based fiber with transmission losses of 4.7 dB/km and in experiments about 2.3 W over a distance of 200 m, with an output voltage of +5 V, have been sent. In a system based on sound energy is passed between a pair of piezoelectric devices. With ultrasonic waves about 20 kHz, an experimental system has already successfully transmitted a fraction of a mW of power over a distance of 1 m. Also large-scale radio transmission is being studied by organizations such as the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, which has now merged into Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA). In their plan large arrays of solar panels in orbit beam generated electricity to Earth by using microwaves. NASDA hopes to deploy the system in 2020, with a target of about 1 GW of power at the point of connection to the commercial energy grid. 20
  • 21. 4.3. Micro fuel cells as power source Japan seems to be determined that fuel cells will become an important power source for mobile devices. With current batteries it is difficult to significantly increase battery capacity and therefore expectations for fuel cells as a new power source are growing. NEC, Sony and Toshiba, as well as dozens of other companies are in the process of developing ever smaller fuel cells to replace rechargeable batteries in laptops, cameras, cell phones etc. NEC has demonstrated a fuel-cell powered laptop which can operate 5 hours before a methanol refill is needed. The laptop weighs 2 kg but NEC plans to start selling a lighter version in 2004 and also to lengthen the „battery-life‟ of the cell. The current version has a power output density of 40 mW/cm2, an average output of 14 W and a maximum output of 24 W. It uses 300 cc of 10% methanol per fuel cell cartridge. The electrodes of the cell are made of carbon nanotubes, which offer better performance than activated carbon. NEC prototype Toshiba has developed a fuel cell battery for mobile phones and PDAs which it expects to commercialize in 2005. The weight of the battery is 130 g and its dimensions are 100x60x30 mm. The volume of methanol solution used is 25 cm3, which gives an average output of 1 W and supplies power for 20 hours. Also Sanyo, the world‟s largest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, plans to release compact fuel cells to power portable electronic devices by 2005. 21
  • 22. 4.4. Environmental issues Electronics industry is giving more and more attention to environmental issues when designing products and planning their manufacture. The Japan Electronics & Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) has announced new guidelines for the procurement of components to produce eco-friendly products).The guidelines will make it easier for manufacturers to see eco-friendliness of the components, and on the other hand simplifies the reporting procedures of the component suppliers. More information at: ( Major Japanese manufacturers are individually making various efforts to prove their eco- awareness. Matsushita Electric Industrial announced that its group companies will meet the EU‟s RoHS requirements (banning the use of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium and bromine based flame retardants) starting from April 2005. Sony, Canon and NEC along with some other manufacturers are taking the initiative to jointly create toxic-free procurement system in response to the EU restrictions. The group aims to create common standards for the restricted materials, their permissible content levels and their measurement. Canon is also developing a system that will evaluate the total environmental impact of a product during its entire life cycle, which will make it possible to compare environmental burdens of products even before test production begins. The data can also be publicly disclosed for new products launched. As for recycling, the Japanese legislation stipulates that TV sets, air-conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators must be 50-60% recyclable. In response to these laws, Matsushita Electric Industrial has established an advanced recycling plant called Matsushita Eco-Technology Center. Consumers have to pay up to 4600 JPY to dispose of these appliances. The law also requires that PC manufacturers collect and recycle all PCs they sell. NEC and Fujitsu, for example, charge 3000 JPY for collecting PCs or displays. 4.5. Nanoelectronics The budget request for FY 2004 released in August 2003 indicates that the Japanese government may increase nanotechnology R&D budget for 2004 by over 20% compared with 2003, when the budget totaled roughly 1 billion USD. Various players in the industry working on nanotechnology related R&D in Japan are joining forces to promote the commercialization of nanotechnology. Some 250 companies have in October 2003 formed a nanotechnology promotion body called „Nanotechnology Business Creation Initiative‟ ( To accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnology inventions, the organization will aim at promoting corporate tie-ups, start-ups and technology transfers. According to a survey conducted by Nikkei Research Institute also venture capital investment in nanotechnology in FY 2002 more than tripled to 1.3 billion JPY, although total venture capital investments in the same period decreased 30% from the previous fiscal year. Venture investment in nanotechnology was, however, still quite modest compared with bioventures (8.8 billion JPY) and information technology sector (24.5 billion JPY). Progress has been made in production of nanomaterials that could be utilized in electronics applications. Osaka University and Kochi University of Technology have developed a synthesis method that yields carbon nanotubes with lengths of 50-100 microns in a density of 1 billion 22
  • 23. nanotubes per cm2. Arrays of this kind of nanotubes could be used as capacitors, but with greater charge storage capacity. Following figure shows one roadmap for the utilization of carbon nanotubes in electronics devices (source: Nikkei Electronics): NEC has improved the production process of carbon nanohorns, used for electrodes for fuel cells, so that production rate is about 100 g/h. About 1 g of carbon nanohorns will be needed for one cell, and with the current process the cost of a fuel cell is reduced to 10 000 JPY. The overall confidence in the potential of nanotechnology related products was confirmed by a recent corporate survey by Nikkei. According to the survey, half of the 240 respondents were interested in developing products based on nanotubes and other nanomaterials, and expect nanotechnology to evolve into market worth of 2 trillion JPY by 2005. The technologies found important by the respondents were „microfabrication technologies‟ and „nanoparticles‟, and the often quoted goals in both cases were miniaturization and energy conservation. 4.6. Microfluidics & Microsystems A comprehensive report on Japanese R&D activities related to MEMS, including microfluidics and bio-MEMS, can be found at: The 10-year-long Micromachine Technology Project, which was financed by METI, developed basic technologies and helped Japanese companies to establish skills for further MEMS and 23
  • 24. microfabrication development. As a part of a new program „FOCUS21‟, designed to accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies, METI has reserved a budget of roughly 2.1 billion JPY for the promotion of the Japanese MEMS industry in the fiscal 2003. NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation,, which operates under the auspices of METI, has chosen to promote the commercialization of sensor MEMS, optical MEMS and RF MEMS devices under the FOCUS21. These show promise for commercialization in the short term, while for example bio-MEMS or microfluidic systems are promising from a long-term perspective. Also, a well-established foundry infrastructure is considered a prerequisite for accelerating the commercialization of MEMS devices, and consequently seven Japanese MEMS foundry providers (Oki Electric Industry, Omron, Olympus Optical, Hitachi, Fujikura, Matsushita Electric Works and Fuji Research Institute) are currently assessing the establishment of a Foundry Network System, that would enable MEMS fabrication to be performed jointly by several member facilities. 4.7. Networked home appliances Encouraged by the rapid growth of residential broadband access, several consumer electronics manufacturers have been proposing to link a variety of electronic devices over a network. So far, however, there has not been any strong demand for networked appliances. For example, various ideas have been presented for controlling household appliances via the Internet, but it is unclear how much consumers are willing to pay for such functions. Audio-visual equipment enabled for content delivery has similarly failed to take off in the market. Contrary to these applications, anti- theft and surveillance functionality seems to be an emerging trend in home networking. Many large companies, e.g. Matsushita Electric Industrial, have started selling net-enabled security devices and home networking services. As a latest development in this field, Sanyo Electric Co, Ltd announced that it has developed a home network integration system that interconnects competitors' home appliances based on different technical specifications. The appliances included in the „DarWIN‟ system are networked household electrical appliances, digital home appliances and crime/disaster prevention systems. The integration system can be configured to automatically control various appliances in a home according to information transferred from sensors that have detected, for example, a trespasser or an unusual change in temperature or humidity. The system, which is implemented on a home server and a remote controller with a touch panel, supports ECHONET and Universal Plug and Play for communications. 5. Digital media in Japan 5.1. Digital TV Terrestrial digital TV broadcasting was launched in Japan on 1st December 2003. At the moment the service area includes only the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, but nationwide coverage should be achieved by the end of 2006. 24
  • 25. Digital broadcasting in Japan uses a proprietary standard, ISDB-T, which is based COFDM like DVB-T, but has highly technical time interleaving and band segmentation which make digital signals stronger in Japan's mountainous terrain. ISDB-T system segments the elemental OFDM carriers into groups which can be transmitted with independent OFDM modes. Thus a single transmission can service a robust mobile application and a higher data rate fixed reception application at the same time. Also, the DVB-T family of transmission modes has been extended by the option to include time interleaving. For a more detailed description of the evolvement of digital broadcasting and standardization in Japan see the following article “Trends in Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting”: An introduction of the ISDB-T system can be found at: So far, however, only some 300 000 digital broadcasting compliant TV sets have been shipped although there are 12 million households in the current digital TV service area. Digital broadcasting compliant TV sets are still rather expensive and a digital TV set top box costs 80 000 JPY (610 EUR). Also, to enable nationwide digital broadcasting will still require large investments from the broadcasters (several hundreds of billions of JPY), which is a serious burden especially for smaller TV stations. Nevertheless, because of HDTV imagery terrestrial digital broadcasting has given a boost to sales of flat panel TVs, both LCD and plasma. Some retailers have reported that sales have doubled since last year, and also manufacturers of flat panel TVs say that they are producing at full capacity in order to meet the demand. So far sales have mainly resulted from smaller models as bigger ones are still quite expensive. 32-inch LCD TVs are priced at about 500 000 JPY (3 800 EUR) and 42-inch plasma TV sets at about 600 000 JPY (4 600 EUR). Following figure shows the market shares of manufacturers both in the LCD and PDP TV market in Japan. Most manufacturers have announced strong growth targets for their market shares indicating a tough competition in future. 25
  • 26. Manufacturer shares in Japan LCD TV market (1Q 2003) LG Electronics Hitachi Mitsubishi Other 2% 1% 1% 2% Samsung 3% Sony 11% Matsushita Electric Industrial 12% Sharp 68% Japanese LCD TV market Manufacturer shares in Japan PDP TV market (4Q 2002) Victor Co Other Toshiba 4% 1% 5% Matsushita Electric Industrial Hitachi 13% 41% Sony 18% Pioneer 18% Japanese PDP TV market Sony is also developing a mini single-segment digital broadcast tuner module, which enables the addition of digital terrestrial TV and DAB functionality to handheld devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. The BTD-ZJ611 module, with external dimensions of approximately 20 mm x 16 mm x 2 mm, addresses the two major hurdles to TV-equipped mobile phones: battery life and bulk. The power consumption is less than 150 mW. The chip has a digital interface to simplify integration into other digital devices as a PDA, laptops and mobile phones, and can receive a common VHF (channels 1-12) and UHF (channels 13-62) radio signal input. 26
  • 27. Sony’s single-segment digital broadcast tuner module 5.2. Electronic paper Several Japanese companies are working on the development of ultra-thin displays or electronic paper. Toppan Printing is using printing techniques to form circuit patterns on very thin plastic films to make the same kind of thin film transistors (TFT) that are put on glass plates to produce conventional LCDs. Owing to simple production technology, the cost of making the displays will be only 1/10 of that of similar products that use conventional techniques. The company aims to have commercial products ready by about 2008. Currently, TFT circuitry is formed on glass panels using vapor deposition of metal films to make LCDs. Toppan Printing's technology does not use glass, so the displays can be lighter and thinner. In addition, the TFTs themselves are only 50 microns thick, compared to 2 mm for the thinnest TFTs currently made. Once the displays are covered with such materials as color filters and surface films, they are still less than 1mm thick, allowing them to be rolled up. Hitachi with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Optoelectronic Industry and Technology Development Association is also developing technology to produce transistors for electronic paper displays. They are using printing technology and special organic materials to reduce the thickness of transistors to less than 1 mm. The organizations aim to produce prototypes of ultra-thin display panels in order to bring the products to market in 2008. Soken Chemical & Engineering is developing two-color microparticles for use in electronic paper and plans to commercialise them within next 3 years. The particles will be based on acrylic resin, with half of the spherical surface coloured with carbon and the other half with titanium dioxide. When voltage is applied the particles invert and thereby enable display of characters etc. As for commercialization of electronic paper media, nineteen Japanese electronics companies, publishing houses and other firms announced in September 2003 that they will form a consortium to promote the use of eBooks and the devices that display them. The alliance, the Electric Book Business Consortium, will seek to promote widespread use of such devices, as well as the practice of reading books using such gadgets. The companies include Toshiba Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Kenwood Corp., Iwanami Shoten Publishers, Keiso-Shobo Publishing Co., Dai Nippon Printing Co. and Softbank Corp. The consortium will form several working groups that will discuss the e-book platform and business, compression technologies, international collaboration, e-book distribution and how e- books can revitalize existing bookshops. The consortium said it will accept multiple display formats and viewing platforms. No specific data format is defined for e-books at present. The consortium intends to work with existing book distribution systems, which comprise publishers, wholesale agents and bookstores. Also, the consortium will consider making cell phones one of its e-book viewer platforms. 27
  • 28. Though the consortium said it intends to support multiple data formats and e-book viewers, Matsushita has already developed a prototype e-book viewer and the consortium will initially promote e-books suited for that viewer. Matsushita‟s Sigma Book consists of two A5-size LCD panels facing each other and it displays pages of books electronically downloaded from the Internet or via special downloading terminals expected to be installed at bookstores across Japan. The Sigma Book, which will sell for roughly 30 000 JPY, is designed to replicate the precise look of pages in conventional books and comics. In November 2003, Sony with 14 other companies, including publisher Shinchosha as well as Dai Nippon Printing and Toppan Printing, jointly established an e-book publishing company. The new company will provide rental ebooks, which users can download and then read in a certain period of time on a PC or a special ebook reader currently under preparation. The prototype is based on E Ink‟s epaper display, in the development of which also Toppan Printing and Philips have participated. In the future these two groups may share the content data format(s), but in terms of ebook distribution they may compete. 6. Space technology and positioning On 1st October 2003, the following three organizations merged into one independent administrative institution called Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA, - Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) - National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) - National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) JAXA is now the Japanese organization in charge of space exploration, from basic research to development as well as practical applications. As for positioning applications, there is said to be no other country where the GPS system is as heavily used as in Japan. Almost 10 million Japanese drivers rely on dashboard GPS systems in their navigation and according to some sources there are also about 4 million mobile phones equipped with GPS receivers in use in Japan. However, as a response to growing concern about dependence on a US government system and in order to improve the coverage and accuracy of positioning systems, Japan is looking into so-called Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) to augment the GPS system. The current GPS satellite constellation offers limited availability in Japan, which has very mountainous terrain and also „urban canyons‟ in metropolitan areas. By launching a few satellites so that one of them is always at a high-elevation angle over Japan the positioning accuracy would be significantly improved, even to an accuracy level of 25 cm according to some estimates. Signals from QZSS would be GPS compatible. The system envisages the launch of three satellites in 2008, which would fly in orbit over Japan along a trajectory resembling the number 8. 28
  • 29. QZSS trajectory The QZSS is considered as a multimission satellite system for mobile communications, mobile broadcasting and positioning and it is planned under government-private sector co-operation. From government side JAXA is involved with the development work and the private sector has formed a consortium called Advanced Space Business Corporation ( to promote the project. The consortium consists of some 40 companies, including Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi, Toyota Motor, Itochu, and NEC Toshiba Space Systems. Government‟s role is mainly to support the development and launch of the system, while private sector would pay for operating the system. QZSS functions JAXA is proposing to the QZSS plan a High Accuracy Positioning Experiment System which aims at: 29
  • 30. - developing a high accuracy positioning satellite technology - improving GPS signal availability for GPS users - providing a test bed for research on advanced high accuracy GPS augmentation 7. Healthcare applications Japanese medical institutions are under great pressure to improve their efficiency and ICT is certainly something that has a lot of potential in terms of improving the efficiency of administration and management of operations. Also the government of Japan has recognized the importance of this and has selected medical services as one of the seven main focus areas in the promotion of effective ICT utilization in its recently updated „e-Japan Strategy II‟. Some Japanese hospitals have already built very sophisticated hospital information systems, and judging by the great number of public tenders for integrated hospital information systems the trend seems to be growing. However, according to a medical industry specialist, not all of these hospitals have fully utilized the potential of these systems for the management of hospital. Apparently the systems have been used mainly just for collection and storage of data, and it is only recently that hospitals have started to actively utilize the data for improving the efficiency of hospital operations. Due to lack of system integration and interoperability, sharing of information between hospital information systems is still very limited. The leading providers of hospital information systems in Japan are Fujitsu, NEC, IBM, Hitachi and Toshiba. On the academic side, University hospital Medical Information Network was established in 1989 for sharing latest information and to promote communication among healthcare professionals. 7.1. Examples of advanced ICT utilization in hospitals No uniform model hospital concept seems to exist in Japan (apart from some architectural models), but following are a few examples of Japanese hospitals that have pioneered in improving their administration and management of operations, mainly through development and adoption of ICT applications. Altogether there are thousands of hospitals and clinics in Japan, most of which probably are exploring the opportunities created by adoption of various ICT applications, but these examples describe some of the cases that have attracted most attention. The University of Tokyo Hospital The University of Tokyo Hospital has 1200 beds and a staff of about 2000. In addition to inpatient care the hospital also handles an average of 3000 thousand visits by outpatients every day. In 2002, 29 724 surgical procedures (of which 19 862 anesthetic) were performed in the hospital, and in the same year the central laboratory of the hospital handled 6 573 968 tests. The hospital is running at about 90% capacity utilization rate, but is trying to increase this further. The hospital also aims at shortening the average length of stay at the hospital, which was 23 days in 2002. In its new 14 floor building, taken into use in 2001, the hospital has implemented a wireless mobile computing system consisting of wireless local area network and handheld computers integrating a laser bar code scan engine. Using the handheld computer, which is about the size of 30
  • 31. a PDA, care personnel can scan a patient‟s bar code identification from the patient‟s wristband to instantly access the patient‟s medical history and medication dosage information on the hospital server. The medication and dosage is then logged into the handheld computer which then checks and confirms the information in the hospital database. At the moment, the applications of the system are still limited to certain kinds of care procedures, such as giving blood transfusions, but the hospital is continuously working on to expand the uses of the new system. For example, software is currently being developed to allow inputting the vital signs of a patient by the bed directly by using the handheld computer. According to the hospital, the new system, combined with the central database of the hospital that includes the medical records in electronic format, has significantly improved employee efficiency and patient care while reducing errors when administering medication. The information system has led to a reduction of paper documentation, which is seen as the main source of patient care and medication errors. Also, it has made it faster for doctors to prescribe some medication or tests for patients simply by choosing the relevant procedures from the menus on the screen. Similarly test results are directly put into the database in the laboratory when they become available. Furthermore, cost information has been included in the database which has made it easier for hospital administration to keep track of the actual costs accrued. The wireless mobile computing system is based on a US company Symbol‟s technology which worked together with Fujitsu and Nihon Kohden to develop the system as implemented at the University of Tokyo Hospital. Logistics is another field where there is potential for major improvements. According to some studies, as much as 46% of a hospital‟s total operating budget is spent on logistics related activities, and often it is the internal supply chain of a hospital that has been the most difficult to integrate. To overcome logistics related problems, the University of Tokyo Hospital has built a very efficient supply, processing and distribution system (SPD) which enables just-in-time delivery of supplies to nurse stations where they are needed. The system consists of a intricate system of tubes inside walls, along which small containers move to the wards from the control center. The system incorporates a computerized tracking mechanism which can automatically route supplies around congested areas in the system. In addition to speed, another benefit resulting from the system are reduced inventories. Also the care process for outpatients has been made more efficient. When patients arrive at the clinic with their hospital ID cards, they are given pagers along with their appointment time. They can then move around the hospital lobby area or eat a meal in a restaurant until they paged to the examination room. Examination rooms are connected to the hospitals information system, where doctors can view the details including a patient‟s previous visits, test results, examination notes and other particulars. Moreover, if the doctor needs to retrieve more information about an illness, he can call up an online textbook or manual right in the exam room. Also tests or appointments with specialists can be easily scheduled by clicking on appropriate icons and requesting time. When a patient arrives at the laboratory, his ID card is read at the reception desk and the patient can proceed to the test. The test results are then fed back into the database of patient records so that the referring doctor can see them as soon as they arrive. Kameda Medical Center Kameda Medical Center has been cited as the most advanced IT hospital in Japan, even in the whole world by some sources. Kameda has pioneered in the development of its electronic 31
  • 32. medical record system and its telemedicine system, in addition to which it is famous for its strong customer focus. The center is a private hospital having 850 beds and it treats daily about 2 500 outpatients. Kameda started the development of its own electronic medical record system, called KAI, in 1991, and it has since then been introduced to about 20 other hospitals or clinics in Japan. The hospital says that one factor for the success of KAI was that it was developed by its technology development branch, Kameda Health Informatics Institute, together with a Kameda group company,, exactly to the needs and patterns of the Kameda Medical Center, instead of building it on software developed elsewhere. This way it was guaranteed that the system was developed so that doctors and nurses would not need to make major changes to the way they work and the system could be easily adopted. The KAI system has been patented also in the US and the EU and has enabled Kameda Medical Center to become a virtually paperless ,and filmless, hospital. Owing to usage of digital images and their integration with electronic medical records, the need for storing images on films has been eliminated. Patient data is collected at the point-of-care to the patient records by attending nurses or doctors. The system is also capable of checking if e.g. a drug prescribed to a patient might lead to complications due to other concurrently prescribed drugs. Kameda, too, is utilizing wireless LAN and in addition to desktop computers care personnel can access KAI by their wireless laptops from anywhere in the hospital. As for mobile handheld devices, the hospital is not planning to extend the system to include this kind of terminals due to limited screen size and difficulty of data input. In 2002 Kameda expanded the EMR system by making it possible for doctors to examine almost the entire contents of medical files at Kameda over the Internet from any location. At the same time, the hospital also provided IC cards to some 1 000 patients who were interested in checking their own medical records by using a computer equipped with a card reader. The patients can access the system, called Planet, either from their homes, or from the about 100 PCs that will be set up at medical institutions and public facilities in the Kamogawa area with government subsidies. For security reasons data is encrypted, and patients can also request that unwanted information be deleted from their data before it is put online. Kitasato Institute Hospital Kitasato Institute Hospital implemented a comprehensive hospital information system in its new facility opened in 1999. The new system developed in co-operation with NEC and it was designed to integrate a number of separate systems handling different operations such as order placement, testx and billing. The new system enables information to be shared through all the hospital's PC terminals via a LAN that runs throughout the hospital. The HIS is built around the ordering system, and consists of subsystems for handling radiology information, images, clinical tests, hospital meals (nutrition management), medical records, hospital administration, and health tests. All the subsystems are based on NEC packaged software, which were used with minimal customization for time and cost savings. As a part of the system, registered patients can complete the reception procedure simply by passing a hospital reception card through card-reader. Doctors can conduct examinations while viewing the patient's basic data or test results, and can enter orders for required tests or drugs via 32
  • 33. a computer, which directly forwards the instructions to the relevant department. Also the results of tests and examinations are immediately forwarded to the hospital administration system. The system has effectively reduced waiting time for patients and increased the efficiency of operations. In addition to facilitating the use of accumulated medical data, the system puts more emphasis on communication with the patients and thereby promotes what the hospital calls patient-centered medical care. When operations such as tests and prescriptions require less time and effort the care staff can use more time for communicating with patients, enabling them to provide the most effective treatment to meet the needs of each patient. Also the accuracy of the above mentioned hospital operations has improved along with improved communications between divisions. Based on the doctor-patient communication Kitasato Institute Hospital has developed the so- called NEOCIS concept to improve the quality of care. It is basically a form of knowledge management that combines evidence based medicine and narrative information obtained from patient through communication to offer optimum medical care for the patient. 7.2. Electronic medical records A central part of the hospital information systems are electronic medical records (EMR), which are currently getting a lot of attention in Japan, both from regulators and from system developers. Deployment of EMRs is gaining popularity and for example in the International Modern Hospital Show 2003 a significant part of the exhibits were different kinds of EMR solutions and image processing techniques that work in connection to EMRs. From regulatory point of view, medical records in electric format are now accepted without any obligation to keep records on paper in parallel with EMR. In fact, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has set as target that main medical institutions introduce electronic medical record systems in fiscal 2004. According to the ministry about 15% of large hospitals have already introduced such systems, although they are still mainly operated within the institution. Although the benefits of EMRs, such as increasing the efficiency of hospital operations, is generally recognized in Japan, some doctors have criticized EMRs because they can make their workload bigger due to the difficulty of data input. It seems that there is still plenty of room for improvement in the user interface of EMR systems to enable fast input of all appropriate data. Sharing of EMRs between medical institutions is still modest, largely due to incompatibility problems. Incompatibility stems not only from differences in the technologies of the systems but often also from lack of uniform terminology. Doctors in different hospitals use medical terminology somewhat differently, making it difficult for doctors in other hospitals to fully comprehend the patient‟s history only on the basis of the description in the patient‟s EMR. The Medical Information System Development Center is working towards standardization and R&D of medical information systems, including EMRs, in Japan. From technical point of view, Japanese Association of Healthcare Information System Industry is working towards the same goal. As one solution to incompatibility problems, researchers at University of Ryukyus and Chiba University Hospital have developed so called Template Definition Language (TDL) to act as a platform-independent language for describing the contents and structures of EMR templates, which may thus be exchanged between institutions using different platforms. 33
  • 34. Also, the reluctance of some doctors and hospitals to disclose patient information to other medical institutions, or even to the patients themselves, has been hindering the sharing of medical records between institutions. However, the mindset is gradually changing and the parliament is currently discussing legislation that would oblige medical institutions to release the medical records to patients. Security is a major concern in sending medical records from one institution to another. In addition to IC cards and encryption, as described in the Kameda example, biometrics is expected to become a common security measure in these applications. In June 2003, big Japanese firms developing or using biometrics technologies formed a consortium to promote the development of these technologies in Japan and this consortium sees electronic medical records as one main application area for biometrics. Not only biometrics companies, but also telecommunication carriers view electronic medical records as a promising business area. In order to protect the privacy of patient information, KDDI is developing secure medical-use high-speed communications network together with Telecommunications Advancement Organisation of Japan. They plan to conduct field-tests with Hokkaido University and other institutions in 2004. Encryption technologies will be used to block unauthorized access to the network and communications within the network will be implemented in peer-to-peer format enabling computers at different hospitals have direct communications with each other. NTT, too, has been developing a dedicated network for electronic medical records. In the NTT system, medical data will be stored at NTT‟s control center and made available to those who have an IC card incorporating an electronic key. 7.3. Networks of medical institutions Although generally information sharing between medical institutions is still rather modest, recently some examples of sharing patient information online have emerged. Wakashio Network, launched by Togane Hospital in 2002, which links 15 clinics, pharmacies and home nursing centers in the same local area is somewhat similar to the Planet system developed by Kameda Medical Center. All these institutions can share patient records, with the hospital functioning as a hub. Also a Japanese medical solution provider Secom Medical System has launched so-called ubiquitous electronic medical record system which allows authorized personnel (and patients) to access EMRs on a central server from anywhere they happen to be. In this case, too, identification is realized by IC cards. Local government of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan‟s four main islands with some 4 million inhabitants, has been conducting Shikoku Electronic Patient Record Network project since 1999. The systems aims at connecting clinics to a core hospital in each prefecture but also at enhancing co-operation between clinics. Every prefecture would have a prefectural data center, in addition to which all hospitals and clinics would have access to common medical data center for the whole Shikoku area through a VPN. Similar VPN based core hospital-clinic network has also been proposed by Yokosuka Medical Association in Yokosuka area in Kanagawa prefecture. The Japan Medical Association Research Institute (JMARI), too, has taken steps towards networking hospital computers. For the last two year the association has been working on so- called ORCA (Online Receipt Computer Advantage) project, which has developed a medical fee 34
  • 35. processing system making it easier for doctors to calculate the subsidies to be billed from public health insurance programs. ORCA medical networking does not include EMR, at least not yet, although some experts say that IPv6 was adopted as the ORCA protocol so that it would enable sharing of EMRs in future. 7.4. Telemedicine In the field of telemedicine, Japan has built a few successful pilot cases especially for telehomecare applications. For example, in Katsurao village in Fukushima prefecture remote medical services using ISDN connections, videophones and database technology began to be provided as the community‟s primary medical infrastructure in 1999. In this system images, voice and health data are sent through a home patient terminal to a hospital allowing the patients to be examined by a physician and receive prescriptions for a medicine without having to travel to the hospital. This is a significant benefit especially for elderly people, in addition to which it also results in lower traveling costs. In the Katsurao pilot project, videophones and data transmission infrastructure is provided by NTT, while Sanyo and NEC have developed the remote monitoring devices. In order to expand the possibilities of telemedicine, KDDI has together with Tokyo Medical and Dental University built a system for sending complex medical data over a fiber-optic network. In an experiment video images taken with an endoscope at the Musashino Red Cross Hospital were sent to Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital for diagnosis. Until that data transmitted online was limited mainly to still images of CT scans and x-rays. With a similar goal, Tohoku University and Keio University have joined forces to develop an advanced video communications system for transmitting ultra high quality video images for medical purposes. The project combines the expertise of Tohoku University in large-size displays and Keio‟s skills in optical fiber technologies. Japan is also developing robot technology that enables surgeons to perform very fine-scale operations which currently are beyond the ability of unassisted human hands. When robot technology becomes mature for surgical purposes and it is connected with high quality video images systems that can in principle also enable remote-controlled surgery one day. The Kyushu University Hospital has implemented a system designed to provide remote support for endoscopic surgery using a high-speed Internet link between the cities of Fukuoka in Japan and Seoul in South Korea. The system was developed together with Olympus Optical, Fujitsu Nishi-Nihon Communication Systems, the Genkai Project Association and Kyushu Electric Power. The link represents the first international high-speed Internet connection completed in Japan that has been created specifically to support tele-surgery. The connection bandwith for the link between Kyushu University Hospital and National Cancer Center (S. Korea) is 70 Mbps and it uses DVTS (Digital Video Transfer System). For security VPN configuration is used together with signal encryption. 7.5. Medical Mobile Multimedia Information System In order to expand the possibilities to access medical records through mobile networks, researchers at Global Information and Telecommunication Institute of Waseda University have 35
  • 36. suggested a so-called Medical Mobile Multimedia Information System (M3IS). The system is based on the premise that each user should be able to access his medical record by a personal mobile terminal. M3IS would function as an interface with the ability to integrate data capturing, browsing and processing of medical information such as personal EMR, personal current medical condition monitored via wearable devices, educational content in medicine and regional medical related information, such as addresses of clinics. The system would be using information from several different sources, which however is considered necessary in order to provide all the relevant information to the user. In addition to mobility the system also puts emphasis on multimedia capabilities to present the data in sufficient quality. Compatibility with various global standards should be taken into consideration, too, when building such a system. The research lists a number of enabling technologies for content generation and description in M3IS. As mechanisms to generate content correctly and efficiently, Japanese organization called Advanced Institute of Wearable Environmental Information Network (NPO WIN) is developing healthcare applications of sensor-based networking technologies. For image processing networked video authoring, transcoding system from real image into CG and video mosaic technologies are expected to be developed. For content description the following enabling technologies are proposed: - medical data format: HL7 (Health Level 7), MML (Medical Markup Language), DICOM (Digital Image and Communications in Medicine) - location information data format: G-XML (Geography Extensible Markup Language) and GML (Geography Markup Language) - multimedia data format: MPEG-4 (Motion Pictures Coding Experts Group – 4), X3D (Extensible 3D), JPEG2000 (Joint Photographic Experts Group 2000) and MPEG-7 To facilitate data collection, storage and management, miniaturization of wearable sensors and storage devices, development of networks such PAN (Personal Area Network) and BAN (Body Area Network) over wireless technologies as well as networked home appliances with IPv6 are considered to be important. 7.6. Mobile Remote Patient Monitoring Before mobile access to medical records becomes a reality, mobile networks will probably first be used for remote patient monitoring. Mobile remote physiological monitoring (MRPM) systems are under development to allow patients to remain mobile while medical personnel or medical information systems can continue to monitor their physiological condition. Such system not only helps control the costs but also improves the quality of care as more frequent or continuous monitoring of patients can easily be achieved. Also inclusion of actuators which can deliver medicine or other stimulus to the patient based on software or remote commands is being studied. According to researchers at Global Information and Telecommunication Institute of Waseda University a typical MRPM system would consist of the following components: - sensors and actuators Development of sensors and actuators relies heavily on complementary technological progress in miniaturization, power efficiency, authentication and security solutions. 36
  • 37. - BAN protocol Most tests on body area networks use standardized protocols, among which Bluetooth/802.15 and ZigBee seem to be dominant. - BAN application platform Application platform is probably the component of most design and functional uncertainty at the moment. Because it is likely that the systems will be deployed by using standard mobile phones or PDAs, the approach in most development projects seems to be for the BAN application to be able to run on various operating systems in cross-platform Java application environment or similar. - relay terminals There are three possible categories for relay terminals: high capability PDAs, mobile phones and customized „black-box‟ type relay devices. - mobile network While systems could also run over wireless LANs, the focus in development is on wide- area mobile telecommunications networks. How to deal with non-coverage or congestion is also an important consideration when designing the system. - connection to medical facility In the connection between the network operator and data collection/patient monitoring facility, it is expected that authentication and encryption will be done between the BAN application platform and the receiving software. In case of large facilities, a dedicated line or the establishment of a VPN may also be relevant. - medical information system Options for processing the data at the receiving end can vary from web-browser based solutions to dedicated software. Depending on standardization and configurability the monitoring data could be integrated to EMR system, too. The components of MRPM systems as listed above are still at different levels of maturity and being developed by separate industries. Although there are many opportunities for development in each of the component markets, the key players in coordinating the MRPM market will be integrators of technology which function as service providers for institutions and individuals. Strict legal and regulatory medical device approval processes are likely to affect the deployment and also standardization of these systems. 37