Japan passes ‘super cities’ bill to reduce delays in technology roll-outs

4th June 2020 Sarah Wray

Japan’s parliament has passed an updated bill to pave the way for the creation of ‘super cities’ which use artificial intelligence, big data and other advanced technologies to improve mobility, disaster preparedness, healthcare and education.

The bill, which amends the National Strategic Special Zones Law, aims to remove regulatory hurdles and complexity which can delay or prevent the roll-out of smart city applications. Restrictions lifted due to the coronavirus pandemic could speed the bill’s adoption. For example, in April, Japan’s health ministry eased rules to allow first-time patients to receive medical examinations and prescriptions online or via telephone.

Under the legislation, once they can prove backing from residents, selected municipalities would submit smart city plans to the central government. The Cabinet Office would work with relevant government agencies to provide exceptions to regulations as required, offering a more streamlined and expedited process.

City OS

The Super City vision centres around the use of a data linkage platform, or ‘city operating system’ (OS), that collects data from central and local government, companies and citizens to power services such as facial recognition access, cashless payments, autonomous vehicles, localised energy models and telemedicine.

Japan’s central government has already received submissions from 51 local authorities to be considered for official ‘super city’ designation in areas such as transport, digital money and healthcare. Around five are expected to be selected later this year, according to Japanese media reports.

A previous version of the bill was submitted last year and revisions were requested.

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