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

Rationalising climate change

The first step to addressing the alarming problem of climate change is creating awareness, which authors and scientists are tirelessly attempting to inculcate in people. Franz Kafka (1883- 1924), a Bohemian novelist who is considered a major literary figure of the 20th century, wrote, “There is infinite hope… but not for us.” His words tell us of the characters in his narratives who embark on various ventures, but seldom succeed. Today, writers highlight these words of Kafka to refer not to Kafka’s characters, but to humanity’s future with reference to climate change. Some of these writers, in present times, similarly project that the hope for a greener planet is “not for us.” We are informed of mankind’s anguish concerning the problem of climate change. The truth of the matter is that a lot has already occurred, with side effects of climate change being felt the world over. Even a fraction of


By The Statesman
October 17, 2019

Culture and society

No to terrorism, communalism

Still smarting from brutal murder of Abrar, Buet students vow to resist repeat of such incidents.  With the murder of Abrar Fahad fresh in everyone’s minds, protesting students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology yesterday took an oath to resist terrorism and communal forces on the campus. “We will collectively prevent the rise of all sorts of terrorist activities and evil communal forces on the campus. Imbued with morality, we will uproot all the discriminatory cultures and abuses of power,” the students said in unison. “Together we will make sure that no innocent life falls apart and the innocent do not fall victim to torture on this university ground.” Several hundred students took the oath in presence of Buet vice-chancellor Prof Saiful Islam, deans of different faculties and provosts of the halls. The programme was


By Daily Star
October 17, 2019

Culture and society

Bengali Nobel laureate Abhijit at a glance

Abhijit Banerjee shared the Nobel Prize for economics. Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee of the US, French-American Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer of the US today won the 2019 Nobel Economics Prize for their work in fighting global poverty. Here is the brief profile of Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee: Fifty-eight-year-old Abhijit was born in Kolkata of India in 1961. His mother Nirmala Banerjee was a professor of economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata. Abhijit’s father Dipak Banerjee was a professor and the head of the Department of Economics at Presidency College in Kolkata. He went to South Point School and completed his BS degree in economics from Presidency College in Kolkata in 1981.


By Daily Star
October 15, 2019

Culture and society

Bringing South Asians together, through translations

The DSC Prize longlist reflects the coming-of-age of South Asian literature. Late last week, at a cocktail event following the longlist announcement of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature-2019 in New Delhi, HS Narula, chairman of the infrastructure giant DSC Limited that funds the prize, came up to Niraj Bhari, publisher of FinePrint Books, and asked why Nepali publishers had repeatedly failed to submit their books for the award.In the eight-year history of the DSC Prize, which was established to celebrate the written word from and around South Asia, only one book—Samrat Upadhyay’s Buddha’s Orphans (2012)—has been longlisted. Bhari seemed flabbergasted by the question. That evening, Bhari said something to the effect that some good translations were coming up this year, and that there would definitely be an entry for the next year’s prize. But, conversely, the question could


By The Kathmandu Post
October 1, 2019

Culture and society

‘Religion has nothing to do with terrorism,’ says PM Imran at UN conference on hate speech

The PM says it is due to the marginalisation of communities. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday emphasised that religion has no link to terrorism and that it is “marginalisation of communities [that] leads to radicalisation”. Pakistan and Turkey co-hosted a round table discussion on hate speech, a side event in the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The prime minister along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressed the conference, which also featured a Key Note address by High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Miguel Ángel Moratinos.


By Dawn
September 26, 2019

Culture and society

Police is failing rape victims, new human rights commission report says

Nepal’s criminal justice system continues to make access to justice complicated and challenging for victims of rape, according to the report. Despite an increase in the number of reported rape cases in Nepal, rape victims are repeatedly let down by the police, a damning new human rights report says. Human rights activists have frequently said that young Nepali girls and women who report rape, now estimated to be over a thousand each year, face an insensitive police force that comprises mostly male officers who are woefully undertrained when it comes to dealing with survivors of sexual violence, a majority of whom are minors. And now, a study on rape victims’ access to justice and police accountability in ensuring the same, released on Monday by the Nation


By The Kathmandu Post
September 24, 2019