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Technology

Tokyo readies $1bn for cyborg and waste elimination research

Government to choose 25 areas, to switch looming crises into innovative products

Ory Lab demonstrates its OriHime-D robot in November 2018. The Japanese government's new research initiative will seek to develop technologies to address the country's looming labor shortage.    © Reuters

TOKYO -- Cyborg technology to restore bodily functions that have declined due to aging, technology to eliminate industrial waste from the Earth's environment, and artificial hibernation are among 25 areas the Japanese government aims to support, Nikkei has learned.

Tokyo will invite research proposals in these selected areas and choose which it will support for up to a decade, with a budget of 100 billion yen ($921 million) for the first five years, a government source said.

The research and development program aims to attract researchers in both Japan and abroad by demonstrating Tokyo's enthusiasm in promoting ambitious scientific efforts to tackle major issues, including the declining birthrate and aging population, as well as to develop new industries around the technologies these efforts create.

The program, for instance, will seek to realize a cyborg technology that can replace human bodily functions using robotics or living organisms by 2050.

To address the country's growing labor shortage, the program will seek to develop technologies to completely automate work and eliminate the need for human intervention in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as on construction sites, by 2040.

Japan plans to recycle all emissions and waste generated from industrial activities by 2050, in an effort to strike a balance between environmental restoration and humanity's development. The government aims to help eliminate pollution on the planet by 2050 by developing technology to automatically collect and recycle ocean plastic.

The draft of the program sets out 25 areas for candidate moonshot projects in the themes of declining birthrate and aging population, environmental conservation, and "frontier development" using science and technology.

The 25 project areas have been given individual deadlines for achieving their goals, from 2035 to 2060.

They will be ranked in order of priority and the government plans to start inviting submissions for research proposals as early as the end of this year.

It will tap into new industrial fields based on technical innovations, including the development of digitization and artificial intelligence. The country aims to develop AI robot systems that automatically detect Nobel Prize-worthy scientific discoveries by 2050.

The country also aims to establish artificial hibernation technology by 2050, with the aim of applying the mechanism of hibernation in animals to humans. It is believed that periodic hibernation will help humans achieve greater longevity, among other things.

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