Society 5.0: Implementation and Loopholes
Wed, 27 Feb 2019 || By Sri Handayani Nasution

Society 5.0 is an ambitious economic plan of Japan that aims to integrate all aspects of society with the existing fourth industrial revolution technologies by 2050.[1] It is claimed that this policy would be a more human-centred initiative as the Japanese are approaching a more complex issue with ageing populations.[2] In order to achieve a human-centred economic development, Society 5.0 focuses on five fundamental aspects in Japan: the ageing population oriented healthcare, the revolution of mobility, the creation of next-generation supply chains, advance technologically integrated infrastructure, and the utilization of Fintech.[3] Society 5.0 is a reasonably contextual initiative developed by the government of Japan to answer the problems that exist in the status quo.

Q1: Can the Society 5.0 framework be implemented universally?

A1: the basic concept of Society 5.0 itself is the highly integrated, borderless world between the cyber-space and the real-space that aims to increase the quality of life of people. This concept thus is in line with the global community initiatives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). While the Society 5.0 initiatives are fairly contextual with the problem that persists in Japan, those frameworks could be modified and adjusted with the needs of each state accordingly. However, few considerations need to be discussed in regards to the hypothetic universal implementation of this framework. First is the technology barrier between a lot of states and Japan; and second, is the employment problems in the scenario of Society 5.0; and third is the exploitative nature of the current scheme of the industry that involves relations between people and technology. The second and third issues are fairly more complicated than the first, as the technological barrier could be resolved with the economic cooperation between states in regards to the availability of tools. While these solutions could, in fact, impose an imbalance advantage between states (for instance the less developed states, in this case, would be a massive market for a technologically more developed state), it is not a matter to be discussed in this writing.

            The Society 5.0 framework makes the certain situations where much labour would be replaced by the technologies even if World Bank has stated that those in the developing countries have less risk of being replaced given their low cost,[4] do not mean they are not irreplaceable. Gradually company are replacing their labour with machine.[5] States should make an initiative to accommodate the people with high risk of being replaced. Concerning the second issue, the third issue persists in the status quo where technology enables a more exploitative environment to workers as shown by the sharing economy scheme where the workers are not technically ‘employed' but are ‘contracted' and thus are not subject to the protection of the law.[6]

Q2: What are the loopholes of Society 5.0?

A2: As it tries to integrate all aspects of life with technology, if abused, Society 5.0 frameworks enable the government to violate the privacy of the people. Not only that, the data of people stored by the government or other third parties are also at risk of being exploited.[7] This condition described by Masahiro Kobayashi as ‘fear of autonomy’ and therefore the government should ensure the transparency for the people in order to trust the government.[8] The abuse of power of the government or other third parties is not uncommon, in China for instance censorship of ideology opposed by the government is currently happening,[9]Moreover, while still not enacted, many people fear the social credit system in China could impose more surveillance and harm to the people.[10] Exploitation of data can also happen in a more democratic country. The Cambridge Analytica that happened in the US election is one of the examples.[11]

            Other than the issue of privacy, Masahiro also stated that the technical error in technology could impose harms for people especially in the automation of all aspects of life. Therefore the government should ensure the existence of legal law that could protect the people and avoid the creations of codes that try to measure the worth of people in a crisis.[12]This ethical concern will rise along with the advancement of the technology; fortunately, the Ministry of Education in Japan has initiated the review of the current education curriculum in order to meet the demand in the future.[13]

Conclusion: While fairly contextual to the current issue in Japanese society, there are still some issues that need to be addressed if this initiative where cyber-space and daily life are integrated. Not only that the concerns of employment, improvement of the better quality of jobs, and also protection of workers should also be addressed before the framework can be implemented universally. Japan should also improve the transparency and its regulations in order to avoid the loopholes of the borderless world Society 5.0 has to offer.

Editor: Anisa Pratita Mantovani

Read another article written by Sri Handayani Nasution

 

[1] Www8.cao.go.jp. (2019). Society 5.0. [online] Available at: https://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/english/society5_0/index.html [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

[2] Fukuyama, M. (2018). Society 5.0: Aiming for a New Human-Centered Society. Japan Spotlight. [online] Available at: https://www.jef.or.jp/journal/pdf/220th_Special_Article_02.pdf [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

[3] Fukuyama, M

[4] Lay Lian, C., Loayza, N. and Schmillen, A. (2018). The Future of Work: Race with not Against The Machine. World Bank Research and Policy Brief

[5] Lay Lian, C., Loayza, N. and Schmillen, A. (2018).

[6] Das, S. (2017). The sharing economy creates a Dickensian world for workers. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/sharing-economy-gig-economy-uber-airbnb-workers-rights-a7575856.html [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

[7] Kobayashi, M. (2016). Future Services & Societal Systems in Society 5.0. CRDS-FY2016-WR-13 Future Services & Societal Systems in Society 5.0 Held on Monday, November 7, 2016,Center for Research and Development Strategy Japan Science and Technology Agency, p.192.

[8] Kobayashi, M.

[9] Yuan, L. (2019). Learning China’s Forbidden History, So They Can Censor It. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/02/business/china-internet-censor.html [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

[10] Horsley, J. (2019). China's Orwellian Social Credit Score Isn't Real. [online] Foreign Policy. Available at: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/16/chinas-orwellian-social-credit-score-isnt-real/ [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

[11] Graham-Harrison, E. and Cadwalladr, C. (2018). Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in significant data breach. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

[12] Kobayashi, M

[13] Intelligence on Global Japan. (n.d.). How students are being prepared for Society 5.0 | Intelligence on Global Japan. [online] Available at: https://www.globaljapan.world/article/japan-leads-world-in-education-for-society-5-0/ [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019]