March 21, 2017 1:23 am JST

Japan, Germany join forces on standardizing IoT innovations

Coordination could help Japanese companies export tech

RYOHEI YASOSHIMA, Nikkei staff writer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, at the CeBIT technology fair in Hannover, Germany, on March 20.

HANNOVER, Germany -- Japan and Germany agreed Monday to coordinate on international standards for the "internet of things" and artificial intelligence in a collaboration that could benefit Japanese technology companies.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured the CeBIT technology fair in Hannover with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and played up the booths of Japanese developers. Before the expo opened, the leaders signed the Hannover Declaration espousing bilateral cooperation in creating common standards for internet of things technology and next-generation vehicles. Other areas covered by the agreement on cutting-edge technologies include research and development, deregulation and cybersecurity.

"We will need common standards in an era where all people and things are connected," said Abe before the CeBIT tour. Merkel added that society cannot develop further without the standardization and unification of specifications.

The International Organization for Standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission and similar organizations determine the global standards. Because exports of goods and services are at stake, countries compete to win standards that are favorable to their domestic corporations.

Germany is traditionally highly influential in this area. For example, notebooks have paper sizes like A3 and A4 because German specifications became internationalized. Currently, German corporate executives and officials fill about 170 out of roughly 950 senior positions in bodies that set international standards. Japan comes in third with 95 such individuals.

Meanwhile, China increased its nationals in senior posts about tenfold within the last decade. International standards are strongly colored by geopolitics since such rules are often determined by votes. By joining forces with Germany, Japan would be in an advantageous position to advance the technology specifications it favors.

On automobiles, the two countries will coordinate on developing quick-charge electric vehicles, as well as 3-D maps for use in self-driving vehicles. The two sides also reaffirmed public-private partnerships, which include a technological tie-up between the European map company Here and Japanese joint venture Dynamic Map Planning.

The two nations are also collaborating on upgrading cybersecurity at manufacturing sites. And Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology is joining with a German research center on artificial intelligence.  

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