2021 – Did Japan’s Use of Technology Grow During Covid-19?

Japan is often known as one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries and enjoys some of the highest levels of connectivity. Known for its thriving electronic, robotic, healthcare and retail sectors, the country has pioneered many modern technologies that we take for granted such as the laptop or camera phone.

However, in the face of the pandemic, this somehow undermines an issue lurking within Japan. While for many countries technology has undeniably been a huge boon, Japan instead poses it as a glaring weakness.

Government Inefficiency with Technology

Japan has cited difficulties maintaining accurate real-time data, instead opting for manual input and telephone calls across prefectures as means to gather data. Some might recoil, or are too young to be familiar with this relic: fax machines were used internally within governmental bodies as means of communication, creating huge delays in providing key information.

For those familiar with big data, it comes to no surprise the importance of collecting accurate information during the pandemic. Governmental bodies had to extrapolate up to 100 data points to make up for the lack of data; it only created more problems than solved them.

Online systems during this period posed less-than-great user-friendliness: for example, Singapore’s TraceTogether App is the country’s means of personalised vaccination and exposure status via mobile application. Imagine if it was incompatible with Android, hereby denying half the population? This was the case for Japan’s COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application which remained unable to update with Android’s operating system for months on end. Online systems launched by the government lacked the poise, and necessitated four different applications just to conduct vaccinations. The system was scrapped immediately.

Private Sector Faces Similar Issues

Regardless of where you come from, you’d definitely be familiar with the work-from-home mandate affecting millions, essentially forcing employees to work remotely. As for Japan, it unfortunately lags at 0.1% of the world’s cross-border online work market, largely in part due to the lack of skilled workers with digital acumen. This may reflect the apparent lack of digital capabilities that the Japanese market has, pushing the country to improve this issue rapidly to fit with this global trend.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, only 26.83% of office employees in Japan worked from home during the lockdown from April to May 2020. 28% of surveyed companies had an online system allowing their staff to work remotely.  

Many companies outsource their technology to third-party vendors, and thus do not have much know-how within the company. Some are even rather outdated in terms of development. As major companies attempt to modernise their system, some look towards adopting cloud computing, AI systems and remote working as ways to extend their capabilities.

What does this mean for Foreign Tech Companies?

If you are a tech company with some innovative ideas, rejoice! The pandemic has brought heightened awareness to Japan of its shortcomings. Within both private and governmental sectors have revealed extreme gaps with technology that desperately and quickly need to be filled.

Companies with online presence and e-commerce sites have popped up during the pandemic. Among these companies with higher tech and online knowledge, 56% have cited the importance of digital tools during this crisis.


Google also intends to train digital skills in Japan with up to 5.5 million people, working with 45 prefectures and 100 local partners. To be able to adapt to the online market is ever so prevalent in Japan, and many businesses, big or small, are beginning to understand that.

With the pandemic weeding out slower traditional businesses, it will lead to a direct rise in its younger, more tech-savvy counterparts replacing them. More companies are keen to work with tech firms, and integrate software within their department to gain an edge on the competition. These companies are learning, and becoming more open to introducing technology into the workplace.

While the Japanese market may seem insurmountable and foreign, we can help you take that first step. If you’re looking to find out more about other successful video and advertising strategies in Japan, visit here for a comprehensive guide on A Overview of Media in Japan

Whether you’re ready to make that leap into the Japanese market, or want some tips and advice on Marketing or PR strategies from our experts, feel free to contact us!

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