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Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

G7 Joint Statement on Automated Vehicles Exposes Disorder

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At the end of September, a meeting of transport ministers representing the G7 nations was held at the resort town of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture. Automobile manufactures and others in the industry who are competing to develop automated driving systems (see page 8) chose to issue a joint statement that they would “engage in mutual cooperation and exert leadership.” While on the surface it appears that technical development is proceeding harmoniously, from the expressions adopted concerning the internationalization of safety regulations and other matters, discord was evident.

With regard to automated driving technology in Japan, the United States, and Europe, technologies to automate numerous functions of the accelerator, steering wheel, and brakes have emerged. Concerning safety regulations, however, while Japan and Europe have been pushing for rules at the current level of automated driving technology as per conferences conducted at the United Nations, the US announced guidelines focused on fully automated driving. If an agreement is delayed, it’s possible that this will delay dissemination of the new technology.

Concerning automation technology, the statement said that “with the expectations [the technology] will possibly contribute to reductions in accidents, improved traffic access, etc., this should result in realization of the world’s safest and most secure road transportation system.” To this end, the member governments are in agreement to foster tie-ups between manufacturers, academia, and the government, to engage in cooperative research and development. The statement was praised by the speaker of the meeting, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Keiichi Ishii.

However, questions related to the phrasing of international safety standard regulations underscored the rivalry among the G7 nations with regard to automated driving technology.

The framework for controls required that they must “spur innovation,” so Japan and Europe have assumed a more guarded position concerning totally automated driving, which may make compromises unavoidable.

The G7 nations have agreed to set up a working group, but complications are foreseen in the upcoming discussions.

Cabinet Office

New Panel to Mull Improving Accuracy of Statistics

In Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s third Cabinet, the method for calculating gross domestic product and other economic statistics has been debated in the government and ministries. Officials have become aware that, with increased computerization and the growth of single-person households, it has become essential to grasp social changes more rapidly.

The government has projected a GDP of ¥600 trillion by around 2020.

In September, the government set up a panel of experts to discuss the accuracy of economic statistics.

Within the government, the greatest claim of bias has been against the household survey utilized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, on which projections of individual consumption are based.

In September, the expert panel debated the development of a new methodology for statistical indices that harnesses Big Data. Conclusions and recommendations are expected by the end of the fiscal year (March 31, 2017).

No progress has been made due mainly to Japan’s over compartmentalized bureaucracy.

Japan policy updates translated from Keizaikai magazine
The government has projected a GDP of ¥600 trillion by around 2020.