Former Japanese Education Minister Hayashi on Preparing for Society 5.0

Mr Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology from 2017-2018, and Member of the House of Councilors, gave a keynote address at The IAFOR Global Innovation & Value Summit (GIVS) in Tokyo in which he talked about innovation in education, and preparing for the next generation from 2030 onwards, or what he termed Society 5.0.

Mr Hayashi began by referencing a 2007 study in which it was estimated by experts that more than half of the children born would live to over 107 years old. Already home to the oldest society on earth, this trend will continue, and it will mean that education over a far longer life-course will be necessary to reflect changes in the traditional, simple, three-tier model of education, employment and retirement. We will instead have multi-stage lives that are more unpredictable and precarious, and therefore educational solutions that respond and reflect this, and enabling people to access education repeatedly and as necessary. Everyone will be, in effect, lifelong students.

Certain jobs have already been replaced by Artificial Intelligence and the increasing prevalence of robots, and according to a joint study on the "future of employment" conducted by Oxford University and the Nomura Research Institute, within the next 10 to 20 years, forty-nine percent of the working population of Japan could be replaced, because AI and robots are better at formulaic, repetitive and routine work. However, jobs that are safe are those which will require planning and interpersonal work.

Mr Hayashi then spoke of the "Three powers", or important skills required for the next generation to help people be and stay employed in the coming era. The first one is computer literacy and reading ability, the second is communication and interpersonal skills, or soft skills, allowing collaboration with teams, and the third focuses on compassion and empathy, including the ability to appreciate the beauty of nature and music. “These three skills will be more important than memorizing words from dictionaries and textbooks, and what we need to emphasize in cultivating the next generation education", he said.

The former minister of education concluded by saying, “In the future, more and more people will live to be over 100 years old, and increasingly coexist with AI and robots, and in this "Society 5.0" era, education will be personalised and responsive. Teachers will use educational technology to help curate knowledge and facilitate learning, and help nurture growth over many years.”

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