January 19, 2023

IDSA goes to Japan

Konichiwa, Japan! The land of the rising sun has always been a place of fascination for Europeans. A few weeks ago, Christoph Mertens and I took a non-stop flight to Tokyo to learn about the current development of data spaces in Japan and to foster IDSA’s foray into Asia. And perhaps also to get a glimpse at the amazingly organized cosmopolitan city with its influential culture of design, food and karaoke bars.
Julien Adelberger

The country has a long tradition of a strong interplay between spirituality and innovation. So, to get off to a good start Christoph and I visited the famous Buddhist Sensō-ji temple on our first day. Besides the blessings we came to acquire “Omamoris” at the temple, small talismans meant to protect your health & happiness. Omamoris come in small, embroidered bags that contain a short prayer. Now the ground is prepared.

Support for data spaces activities

Japan is one of the most interesting places when it comes to data spaces outside Europe. The Japanese company NTT, an IDSA member, is the provider for essential services for data spaces in the country. We outlined our future collaboration and exchanged ideas. The company also generously connected us with many companies and institutions in Japan.

At IDSA we are eager to add Japan to our network of international hub facilitators. A topic we discussed with all partners. There is a strong wish for a hub facilitator in Japan that can support the national data space activities. Therefore, our visit to the University of Tokyo had a special relevance, since we are looking for a neutral partner to take over this role.

Big companies want data sovereignty

With our partner Data Society Alliance (DSA), the equivalent of the IDSA in Japan, we discussed the importance of standards and the necessity of interoperable data spaces on a global scale. The planned DATA-EX platform from Japan is an interesting counterpart to European initiatives.

This business trip to Tokyo also led us to the offices of the big companies Fujitsu and Hitachi, both members of IDSA. With Fujitsu we discussed their current involvement in sustainable manufacturing and opportunities to link existing centralized data platforms via data connectors to data spaces. Hitachi’s strong interest in usage control reflects the current state of play and underlines that with an existing technical foundation we can focus again on the part of data spaces that will matter the most for data providers: data sovereignty!

Vital players in a growing network

A few more visits can only be briefly mentioned here: With NEC, an international information technology company, we evaluated potential touchpoints for future collaboration joining our community of data space enthusiasts. NEC would be a vital player in our growing network of international corporations. Furthermore, we spoke with Toyota about the importance of connectors. Topics included the conception of a cross platform approach via interfaces. At Keio University we discussed trust levels and the geopolitical scope of data spaces. Another exciting exchange of ideas. And we met with the DADC (Digital Architecture Design Center), JAMA (the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association) as well as RRI (Robot Revolution & Industrial IoT Initiative).

Omamori talisman to be burned in a temple

Overall, there was a lot of interest in the concept of data sovereignty and in developing solutions to connect existing data spaces as well as an eagerness to work together. We are thrilled to continue and expand our business partnerships and we were promised a return visit soon. A warm welcome!

And since the Omamori talismans Christoph and I bought need to be burnt in a Japanese temple after one year – maybe we will visit Tokyo again soon.

Author: Julien Adelberger
Julien is project coordinator national research & innovation projects at the IDSA head office.

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