Celebration of the Establishment of the Robot Revolution Initiative Council
Friday, May 15, 2015
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a celebration of the establishment of the Robot Revolution Initiative Council, held in Tokyo.
The Prime Minister said in his address,
“I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on the establishment of the Robot Revolution Initiative Council.
One year ago, at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris, I told the world that Japan would ‘create a new Industrial Revolution’ through the use of robots.
Thus far, Japan has led the world as a major player in robotics development. As advanced manufacturers and users of robots, we have succeeded at dramatically raising the productivity of our large-scale factories.
However, particularly in the United States and Europe, other countries are attempting to become the leaders in new robotics by introducing new production systems that fuse IT, such as Big Data, with robotics. In this new era, if we continue to sit idly by, we are likely to simply become subcontractors of the United States and Europe.
The key to becoming a new, major player in robotics development is to spread the use of robotics from large-scale factories to every corner of our economy and society. I believe that we must transform robots into reliable partners that can support everyone who works, including those working in manufacturing in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); those working in the agricultural industry, where the working population is aging; those doing back-breaking work in the field of nursing; and those working on the inspection and repair of aging infrastructure.
We have gathered here today people from a variety of fields beyond what we typically think of when we think about the conventional image of robots as industrial machines. This includes people from the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries; the food industry; the medical and welfare industries; the communications industry; and the construction industry. This truly represents a Japan-wide effort and I would say this is befitting a celebration to mark the start of the robot revolution.
Robots will dramatically change people’s lives and society. That is what makes this a robot revolution. To think that we could find success with conventional systems is nothing more than a dream within a dream. Now is the time to boldly transform our ideas. The Government and private sector must work as one to break down the walls between industries and between ministries and agencies, and follow a shared strategy and path with their sights set on the world.
The dawn of the revolution is upon us. At one SME I visited last year, robots were working side-by-side with humans and doing finely detailed assembly work. The price for one of these robots is around 7 million yen. That is affordable, even for an SME. I was very surprised to see such a high performing robot at such a low price. The company was apparently able to bring the production it was doing overseas back to Japan thanks to the tremendous improvement in productivity achieved through the introduction of that robot.
Robots are playing a major role in the field of nursing as well, which is dealing with the declining birthrate and aging population. Assist suits benefit those taking care of others and also those being taken care of, and seeing the smiles of people on both sides left a strong impression on me. It gave me a glimpse into the future of nursing. Robots have the power to alleviate people from simple, hard, and dangerous labor in agriculture, construction, logistics, and other fields.
We must also not forget about international collaborations. Some time ago, I held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and I proposed that we build a new channel for cooperation with Germany based on this Council. Chancellor Merkel strongly agreed with that proposal. The robot revolution started in Japan will change the world. I too will make every effort toward the realization of that.
We have already set off the signal fire for the robot revolution. Let us take the first step forward together. I would like to conclude my congratulatory remarks with the hope that today will mark a new page in history. Let us all move forward together. Thank you.”