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Highlights from the Wall Street Journal's "Japan and the U.S.: Innovation and the Future of Connectivity" Partner Event

On December 8, 2020, as part of the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council series, a distinguished panel of guests met online to participate in a panel discussion titled, "Japan and the U.S.: Innovation and the Future of Connectivity". At one of the sessions themed "5G AND BEYOND: A GLOBAL DIGITAL PARTNERSHIP", incoming NEC CEO Mr. Takayuki Morita, former US Ambassador to Japan Ms. Caroline Kennedy, professor at Keio University Dr. Jun Murai known as the "father of the Japanese Internet," and President and Chief Executive Officer of NTT Research, Inc. Mr. Kazuhiro Gomi had an in depth discussion moderated by Chief Executive, News Corp Robert Thomson.

5G AND BEYOND: A GLOBAL DIGITAL PARTNERSHIP

Despite coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, the panel unanimously agreed that digital technologies are becoming increasingly critical in this era, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emphasizing this point, Professor Murai mentioned that the Japanese government is now creating a new IT strategic roadmap for the next 20 years, and digitalization will be the key focus for the next ten to twenty years.

Mr. Morita of NEC agreed that new approaches are needed to accelerate digital transformation in the public sector in a post COVID-19 world, and that there needs to be an increased focus on security. Mr. Morita also mentioned that he believes that facial recognition technology will play a large role in this digital transformation, and also stated that NEC's recent work with several airlines has allowed them to offer a touchless passenger experience, facilitating smoother and faster immigration.

The panel also discussed how technologies are continuously evolving and will need to be even more robust to meet the future needs of society. Mr. Gomi from NTT discussed how his company has already started research on 6G technology, which might even be able to provide connectivity in the middle of the ocean and in outer space.

Professor Murai mentioned that he believes that quantum computing will also emerge as a key technology of the future and will usher in a new era of security via quantum cryptography. But Mr. Morita also added that these new technologies will require both more security and more openness in order to be successful in the future.

For example, NEC is heavily involved in the development of Open RAN network equipment, which will create more competition in the market and hence spur innovation and competition. In addition, he talked about how that security is a critical aspect for all of NEC's technologies, as it is needed to build user trust and confidence.

The session concluded with predictions from the panel regarding future technologies. Mr. Morita mentioned three key trends he sees going forward. The first is that biometrics will continue to evolve to the extent that each individual person will essentially function as a password.

Secondly, AI will become increasingly automated and pervasive and will enable new levels of safety and security in business and society. Finally, he affirmed comments from the other panelists and stated that he believes quantum cryptography will play a huge role in improving cybersecurity going forward, adding that NEC is working to introduce all of these technologies to the world.