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Business

Japan Post to tap Apple, IBM tech for seniors services

TOKYO -- Japan Post Holdings will team up with Apple and IBM in hopes of using the U.S. companies' latest technologies to improve its services, including one that lets users check up on elderly family members.

     The deal is expected to be announced Thursday by Japan Post Holdings President Taizo Nishimuro at a news conference in New York. Top Apple and IBM executives likely will attend.

     Mail delivery unit Japan Post began a service in October 2013 in which employees visit the homes of the elderly and report on how they are doing to family members far away. Offered in limited areas of Japan, this service takes advantage of the postal company's ties with communities and people's everyday lives.

     Through the new deal, the partners aim to improve the efficiency and quality of this and similar services. Apple devices may be used to collect information about the location and movements of seniors, with this data to be analyzed by IBM's powerful Watson computer. This could lead to a system in which health problems and other emergencies can be detected more accurately. Advances in this area could let Japan Post offer high-quality services.

     Apple and IBM already work together in this field. By partnering with Japan Post Holdings, they hope to find business opportunities and develop services in a graying nation.

     Also, Japan Post Insurance will use artificial intelligence for insurance benefit payments. Currently, a large staff of experienced workers processes claims to determine whether benefits should be paid and the amount. This work could be handled more efficiently by creating a system that can process claims based on past examples and screening data. And policyholders could receive payments more quickly.

     The Japan Post holding company, Japan Post Bank and the insurance unit plan to go public at the same time this autumn. The partnership with Apple and IBM is meant to increase enterprise value by expanding operations and improving efficiency.

(Nikkei)

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