Japan is known for not only technological prowess but also aging and declining populations, and concerns for its economic future as China, South Korea, and other Asian states grow economically. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has presented a "New Industrial Structure Vision" of how it hopes the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution will enable it to reinvent the Land of the Rising Sun.

The "Fourth Industrial Revolution," written on extensively by Klaus Schwab, is making things new for humans. Artificial intelligence (AI) in robots and the implanting of computer and Internet connections to all kinds of appliances, machinery, and so forth is birthing an "Internet of Things" (IoT).

Schwab comments on risks and opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. METI has focused on opportunity fields like "mobility" and "healthcare," as it sees to bring convenience to diverse (rural and urban, aged and young) segments of Japan's populace. It is eager to help usher in a "new interconnected future." This implies intensive investment in social and technological change leading up to 2020 (the year of the Tokyo Summer Olympics) and beyond.

Patents in the AI and IoT fields, including licensing, will become highly competitive and important for investors from within and without of Japan. As METI promotes a computer-driven future for Japan, the JPO will need to keep up and improve how manufacturers, sellers, and patentholders interact (see, for example, how the JPO is trying to make negotiations over IoT-related Standard Essential Patents smoother).

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