On July 24th, Dr. Saori Shibata presented her research on the digital transformation of working practices in the Japanese service sector during a symposium organised by the the Royal Dutch Food Service Industry (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland/KHN). Her research, which largely focused on the automatisation of the Japanese food service industry, potentially contains valuable lessons for the same industry in the Netherlands, which is why KHN participated in this LeidenAsiaCentre research project. Click here to read the research report.
Dr. Shibata (middle) withHonorary Consul to Japan Jos ter Avest (left) and Dirk Beljaarts, CEO of KHN.
Japan is particularly well-suited for this study because of its combination of being one of the advanced industrial democracies that has experienced an ageing population and the labour shortage issue most acutely, and also since the country is having an advantage in terms of the relatively advanced development of its digital economy. The service sector is particularly relevant in this context, as it tends to be labour-intensive. According to KHN, Shibata’s research demonstrates that robotisation, automatisation and Articifical Intelligence contribute to reducing the labour shortage in the Japanese service sector and can help to improve the experience of customers. At the same time, Shibata notes specific risks related to these developments, such as decreasing incomes for low-skilled workers and “deskilling” of employees.