Japan is prepared to invade the metaverse with an army of anime cat girl avatars, says Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. All joking aside, he did announce serious plans for the country's digital transformation, including the integration of Web3 technology like NFTs and cryptocurrencies, as well as serious investments into the metaverse.
Investing in the Future
With the metaverse expected by some to be a trillion dollar industry, Japan are investing in the next iteration of the internet and preparing for the future. Japan already has a strong hold over internet culture, with anime girls being a popular avatar choice in social VR game VR Chat, while anime as a whole has become a mainstay entertainment choice for almost 2.8 billion viewers.
Now, Japan wants to anchor those roots, with many companies employing VR and AR to drive revenue. We can especially expect this to boost decentralised virtual worlds, as Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has recently focused on expanding blockchain usage in the country, particularly through introducing a tax exemption for crypto companies.
In October, Kishida spoke in a press release and announced that the country will look to "promote efforts to expand the use of Web3 services that utilize the metaverse and NFTs". This comes at a time when AR and VR are already gaining steady option in the island nation, with companies like Hikky offering a virtual market that can be visited in aforementioned VR Chat.
Exposing the Future
Well ahead of the West, Japan has been exploring use cases of virtual worlds for the past few decades, with virtual social platform Meet-Me creating a simulation of Tokyo and allowing users to meet in an immersive, 3D setting. It was, in fact, co-created by Elden Ring developer From Software—and was described as 'metaverse' long before the current hypecycle back in 2007.
If anything shows Japan's commitment to the transformative potential of AR, VR, and adjacent technology, it's the Japan Metaverse Expo. Debuting in October and held twice a year, the expo allows visitors to see the next available bleeding-edge technology, even using everything from VR headsets to new AR apps.
While Japan seemingly has a headstart in the metaverse race, other countries, especially in South-East Asia, are hot on their heels. Be ready for the race to heat up as China and the likes begin to bridge the real and virtual through investing in blockchain and the metaverse.