Society 5.0: Japan's innovative governance strategy and its political prospects for the Russian-Japanese relations

Vadim B. Kuznetsov,
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University


Nowadays the transformation of the existing governance systems through extensive technological development is considered as a preliminary requirement for every State which enters the race for global leadership. However, actualizing a major digital shift on its own has already become insufficient. Not only are the States pursuing the aim of encouraging innovation but also are promoting their increasing technological capacities in order to build trustful connections and launch joint projects with their political partners. In this light, Japan has elaborated an all-encompassing initiative of Society 5.0 which provides various governance systems with flexible digital tools to address modern challenges, such as aging population, bureaucratization of governance mechanisms, infrastructure deterioration, and economic slowdown. The last field is also a crucial pillar of the concept as it allows Japan to enhance cooperation with its neighboring countries and many other States across the globe.  Thus, by joining efforts on the grounds of a shared approach to governance both nations could find a restarting point for boosting Russo-Japanese political relations. The digital breakthrough of Society 5.0 has proved that Russia's participation in the Japanese initiative might be beneficial for its industries as well as significantly contribute to the regional development, especially concerning the Russian Far East.

Key words: Society 5.0, Russo-Japanese relations, governance strategy, digital economy.


It was in 2016 that the Society 5.0 concept was devised by the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation in the renewed Science and Technology Basic Plan[1]. First designed as one of the many elements of the Japanese economic growth strategy, Society 5.0 soon became the nation-wide vision uniting the effort of the country's government, industries, and citizens in their aspiration to realize a tremendous shift from Society 4.0 — the information age — towards a new socio-economic model where technological achievements and people's everyday activities and needs are merged into one. Therefore, a mutual benefit will be created so as to significantly improve every individual's quality of life, as well as boost national manufactures. The initiative is very ambitious indeed, and the entire world is now pondering the phenomenon while Japan is taking the lead.

Society 5.0 in the governance strategy of Japan

Viewed by the Prime Minister's Office of Japan as the key solution to the major social issues most states face today, Society 5.0 does propose a specific set of measures which ought to be implemented in five particular fields: healthcare, infrastructure, mobility, financial technology, and smart public services (Fukuyama, 2018). Nowadays all these spheres are interconnected, which means that each of them is simultaneously subject to a number of challenges, such as cumbersome bureaucracy, inflexible legislature, technology incomprehension, lack of skilled labour force, and people's reluctance to accept considerable transformations. These "five walls"[2] might hinder the progress so it is the priority in Society 5.0 concept to tackle them providently: for instance, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan has recently introduced a new school education format in order to raise a generation of students who will be adapted to any rapid change and high demands of the super-smart society and help them be competitive while avoiding the so-called "future shock".

Picture 1. Economic and social innovation by deepening of Society 5.0 (Mayumi Fukuyama)

Economic dimension of Society 5.0 concept

The economic dimension of Society 5.0 upholds the Japanese manufacturing tradition of streamlining the production cycle according to a balanced philosophy in management which is, in turn, based on two crucial pillars. The first one is called "Monozukuri" and its meaning reflects a combination of technological prowess and employee's personal dedication (Susumu, 2015). The commitment to evolve leads to the second pillar which is "Kaizen" — a constant development of the system to make it better (Maarof M.G. and Mahmud F., 2016). In this regard, Society 5.0 encompasses a broad range of practices which are already introduced in Japan's flagship corporations. Moreover, the above-mentioned principles have been successfully emulated by leading-edge western companies. As a result, Society 5.0 strategy possesses a solid basis of economically advanced tools whose implementation has proved to be efficient not only in Japan but also on a global scale.

Society 5.0 in Japan's international relations

Recognizing the importance of involving international partners in the work on accomplishing the goals of Society 5.0, Japan has established a close cooperation with Germany in order to unite the capacities of both states' stakeholders. Japan's Society 5.0 relies on promoting full utilization of innovation in technologies, such as Internet of Things, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence, which has a lot in common with the German strategic plan "Industry 4.0"[3]. The "Machine to Machine" automation is viewed in both national concepts as the means to foster interconnections between various manufacturers forming industrial value chains. Apart from being economically profitable, they also serve as a basis for expanding cooperation amongst industries and thus supranational clusters emerge, regardless of their geographical location. In light of this, Japan's Society 5.0 may connect Russian enterprises in order to facilitate the increasingly growing interregional trade.

Political prospects for Russo-Japanese relations within Society 5.0 framework

Although Russia is not at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution yet, its capacity to contribute cannot be underestimated. The "Digital Economy of the Russian Federation" national program sets out detailed guidelines the state and businesses need to follow so as to positively transform the traditional markets (Leenders, 2018). With six precise priorities and more than RUB 1 trillion of financing, the program's objectives correlate with Society 5.0 ultimate goals. By 2024, the Russian Government will have realized an update of the existing regulations for the digital environment, modernized infrastructure, including that in remote areas, ensured there are skilled human resources for the new digital economy, made digital technologies accessible for regular consumers, enhanced research on cybersecurity, and devised digital state governance. Subsequently, the program falls under core values of Society 5.0 concept which opens up new prospects in the Russo-Japanese relations.

Both states may enjoy a wide range of mutual benefits if they join forces while shifting towards Society 5.0. Firstly, Japan's "Connected Industries"[4] framework might be also applicable to manufacturers in the Russian Far East. This means that complex management of current supply chains will be facilitated, which will allow to reduce total costs and let customers acquire goods at lower prices. Hence, the pioneer project might be set up between the bordering regions of Primorsky krai and Hokkaido. Secondly, a lot of people still fear Society 5.0 as they cast doubt on their personal data protection in the era when it will be necessary to share private information extensively. Japan and Russia need to address this concern and adopt a common framework on combatting cybercrime and securing personal data protection. Thirdly, both countries might reinforce their participation in the Russia-Japan Investment Fund, established in August 2017[5], by agreeing on providing investors who are supporting Society 5.0 related investment tracks with additional incentives.

Nevertheless, the cooperation in achieving the goals of Society 5.0 might be impeded by certain factors, such as lack of foreign direct investment or its decrease, wide currency fluctuations, economic sanctions, rise of protectionism, and public distrust.


All things considered, Society 5.0 has given a new hope to the humanity. It promises to help people get rid of inequality, reduced mobility, lack of knowledge, and economic stagnation. At the same time it has evoked numerous concerns over possible consequences: both ethic and technological. Preparing the world for a dramatic transformation, Society 5.0 requires national governments along with young people to enhance productive international cooperation. In light of this, Japan and Russia may become an example of countries that do it.


  1. Fukuyama M. (2018) Society 5.0: Aiming for a New Human-Centered Society // Japan SPOTLIGHT. No 2. P. 141–154.
  2. Leenders A. (2018) The Digital Economy in Russia. Part 2 // Russian International Affairs Council
  3. Maarof M. G., Mahmud F. (2016) A Review of Contributing Factors and Challenges in Implementing Kaizen in Small and Medium Enterprises // Procedia Economics and Finance 35 (2016) P. 522–531.
  4. Susumu M. (2015) Industrie 4.0 and the Latest Trends in Monozukuri Innovation in the Auto Industry // NEC Technical Journal / Vol.10 No.1 / Special Issue on Enterprise Solutions to Support a Safe, Secure and Comfortable Life


[1] Science and Technology Basic Plan [Electronic resource] / Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. — Electronic data. — URL:

[2] Japan Pushing Ahead with Society 5.0 to Overcome Chronic Social Challenges [Electronic resource] / UNESCO Science Report (2015). — Electronic data. — URL:

[3] Germany: Industrie 4.0 [Electronic resource] / Digital Transformation Monitor (2017). European Commission. — Electronic data. — URL:

[4] Overview of the Concept Framework, “Connected Industries” [Electronic resource] / Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. — Electronic data. — URL:

[5] Cooperating on cutting-edge technologies [Electronic resource] / Russia-Japan Investment Fund. — Electronic data. — URL: