See More on Facebook

Culture and society

Universities address demand for AI in Japan

AI said to be the next big topic of study.

Written by

Updated: June 17, 2019

Many universities are establishing departments to help foster students in the age of artificial intelligence and big data, which refers to the collection of huge data sets that are often analyzed to reveal trends in human behavior. Amid calls from the government to accelerate efforts to train individuals in such fields, prestigious institutions are getting on board.

“I want to get a job examining fashion trends by analyzing photos posted on social media sites,” said Kurea Honda, a first-year student of Musashino University’s Data Science Faculty in Nishi-Tokyo, Tokyo.

The faculty was inaugurated this year with the aim of training data scientists, experts who analyze various data to make businesses more efficient.

Data science is said to be one of the most popular professions of the 21st century in Europe and the United States. The choices of Japanese university entrance examinees appear to reflect this trend.

In this spring’s general entrance examinations, the highest percentage of successful applicants for the faculty was one in 13. The number of applicants at the university also increased by 60 percent from the previous year to about 40,000, the largest increase among private universities nationwide, according to major cram school chain Sundai.

“Data is as important as oil in the 20th century,” said Noriyuki Kamibayashi, head of the faculty. “Demand for skills to ‘unearth’ and analyze data will increase more and more.”

Some other higher educational institutions have also reorganized or will revamp existing departments for the purpose of nurturing future experts in AI and big data.

On June 4, Kwansei Gakuin University announced a plan to establish four new science-related schools at its Kobe Sanda Campus in Hyogo Prefecture in April 2021 by reorganizing its School of Science and Technology. Under the revamp, AI will be one of their major subjects of research.

“We aim to train those who can create innovations by improving science-related departments,” said Osamu Murata, president of the private university, at a press conference on the day.

Ryukoku University in Kyoto conducted a survey among companies that have hired its alumni as part of its reorganization plan. The importance of having skills to interpret data stood out among the responses.

The private institution plans to reorganize its Faculty of Science and Technology into a faculty specializing in state-of-the-art science and technology in April 2020.

“Times are changing so fast,” a Ryukoku official said. “We’re trying to make sure that we’re not left behind.”

Chuo University established the Faculty of Global Informatics in April this year. “We aim to nurture human resources capable of dealing with complicated social issues in Japan and abroad that will appear with the advancement of the information society,” an official in charge at Chuo University said.

Against the background of efforts made by these universities is their sense of urgency that they will fall behind global trends if the nation fails to nurture AI specialists.

It has been pointed out that there is currently a shortage of 34,000 AI experts, increasing to up to 124,000 in 2030. For that reason, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to develop a common curriculum across the country so that all the universities nationwide will be able to provide students with a foundation in AI.

Hiroshi Kobayashi, the head of Recruit Shingaku Soken, said: “Amid severe situations and a decreasing number of applicants, universities that focus on AI would boost their appeal by becoming institutions that meet the needs of society.”

Companies pitch in

Not only students are paying attention to data science — companies are taking notice, too.

Akimichi Takemura, the director of the Faculty of Data Science at Shiga University, which established Japan’s first data science faculty in 2017, said: “Corporations are very interested in data science departments. Our university receives inquiries from companies about once every 10 days, indicating data science has become a necessary skill to have in society.”

The university had concluded cooperation agreements and conducted joint research with 104 companies and other entities as of the end of fiscal 2018.

Universities are expanding industry collaborations to maximize profits amid a climate of decreasing government subsidies.

A Cabinet Office official from the section in charge of university reform said: “If data science can be utilized successfully, industry-academia partnerships could be expected to advance. I think it is important for universities to have a clear vision for data science in their department reorganization plans.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

The Japan News
About the Author: The Japan News is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the largest circulation in the world.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society

Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked

By The Statesman
December 23, 2019

Culture and society

The Chinese version

Muhammad Amir Rana asks what is the Chinese version of Islam.  TENSIONS between China and the US have escalated after the House of Representative’s Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, 2019. The move is of a piece with the allegations of many international media and human rights organisations that China is persecuting the Uighur community and violating their rights — allegations that Beijing has denied. Calling the US action a political move aimed at damaging its international image, China says it is running a deradicalisation programme to mainstream its communities. Read: Amid global outcry, China defends internment camps of minorities in Xinjiang The Chinese claim has not been verified by independent sources and mystery shrouds its deradicalisation or re-education programme. China needs to demonstra

By Asia News Network
December 16, 2019

Culture and society

India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran

Imran Khan made the comments after India passed a controversial citizenship requirement. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda. The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday. The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 — but not if they are Muslim. Modi’s government — re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy — says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries. Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister I

By Asia News Network
December 13, 2019

Culture and society

Nepal moves up in Human Development Index but still lags behind in South Asia

Nepal’s human development index of 0,579 indicates that people are living longer, are more educated and have greater incomes, according to the Human Development Report. Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a ‘new generation of inequalities’ indicates that many societies are not working as they should and Nepal is not an exception, according to a new human development report released on Tuesday. The old inequalities were based on access to health services and education whereas the new generation of inequalities is based on technology, education and the climate, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. “Previously, we talked about wealth as a major driver for inequality. Now, countries like Nepal are in another inequality trap and that concerns

By The Kathmandu Post
December 12, 2019

Culture and society

Taiwan among top 10 study destinations for U.S. students

Thailand and Singapore among other Asian destinations. China welcomed the highest number of U.S. students last year, followed by Japan and India in second and third places, respectively, according to a recent survey about exchange students in Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia rounded up the top 10 list of the most popular Asian countries among U.S. students. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.” It’s also very safe to live in Taiwan, as crime rates are low, the Website stressed, noting that Taiwan’s focus on human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech has made it a top destination for education. Taiwan, whose institutions are strong and reliable, has remained la

By Warren Fernandez
December 12, 2019

Culture and society

Relentless against child marriage

Farida Yesmin wins an award for her work to prevent child marriage. It was a rainy day in July 2018. As the evening fell, someone called Farida Yesmin, upazila nirbahi officer of Netrakona’s Barhatta, over her phone and informed her that a child marriage was about to take place in Kawrashi, a remote village in the upazila near the Bangladesh-India border. Farida immediately called the police and left for the village in the dark of the night amid rain and thunderstorms. The road was so bad that at one point, the UNO and her team had to leave their vehicles. They walked about two kilometres to find the girl’s home. “As we reached the spot, a local leader tried to stop us. But despite all these hurdles, we were able to prevent the marriage,” Farida said while recalling how she and her team stopped a staggering 59 child marriages after she joined as the Barhatta UNO on May 9, 2017. She

By Daily Star
December 2, 2019