Innovation That Matters

Global Innovation Spotlight: Japan


From machine teaching software for non-experts to using hormones to boost crop yields, discover exciting innovations from Japan

Reflecting our global Springwise readership, we explore the innovation landscape and freshest thinking from a new country each week. This week, we’re heading to Japan…

Japan Innovation Profile

Global Innovation Index ranking: 13th

Climate targets: Cut greenhouse gas emissions 46 per cent by 2030 (compared to 2013), net-zero by 2050

Sustainability issues

Waste management – Japan has one of the lowest recycling rates in the OECD, and around 78 per cent of the remaining waste is burned. Although the country has invested in more ‘eco-friendly’ incinerators that reduce dioxins which would otherwise be released, the burning still produces large volumes of exhaust fumes which significantly contribute to global warming.

Coral reefs – The Sekisei lagoon in Okinawa was once widely considered an underwater paradise. But now, as a result of typhoons and rising sea temperatures due to global warming, it is estimated that 99 per cent of the coral has been bleached.

Radioactive waste – In a bid to reach net zero, Japan is increasingly relying on nuclear power. By 2030, the country plans for nuclear plants to provide 20-22 per cent of its electricity, but with increased nuclear plants comes growing radioactive waste.

Sector specialisms

  • – Healthtech
  • – Robotics
  • – Transportation

Source: Startup Universal

Three Exciting Innovations From Japan

Photo credit Takaaki Kasuga


Single-use plastics have their uses — they save lives when used in medical equipment and can improve sanitation. However, only 9 per cent of all plastic gets properly recycled, and the rest takes tens to hundreds of years to break down, polluting oceans and clogging up landfills. But now, a research team at Japan’s Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (SANKEN) at Osaka University has developed new hydrogels, made from biodegradable cellulose nanofibres, that could replace conventional plastics. Read more

Photo credit Dr. Yoshikatsu Matsubayashi (Nagoya University)


Abiotic stresses, such as adverse environmental conditions, can strongly reduce crop performance, with crop yield losses ranging from 50 to 70 per cent. With the increase in extreme weather conditions caused by climate change only expected to grow, the need to find ways to continue producing healthy crops even in suboptimal environments is essential. Research conducted at the Graduate School of Science at Nagoya University in Japan might hold the key. Read more

Photo source Yatani and Zhou 2022


For many computer systems to work correctly, we must train them to recognise objects from video or image data. But the way we do this is not only inefficient, it is also complicated work that is best saved for the experts. A pair of researchers from the Interactive Intelligent Systems Lab of the University of Tokyo decided to change this, creating software that allows anyone to train a machine learning system to recognise objects using natural hand gestures. Unlike previous methods, their simplified innovation also means that any extra, unnecessary data is cut out from the process, making for far more accurate object recognition. Read more

Curated By: Matilda Cox

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