Table Speech

Global Trends in Intellectual Property

September 25, 2019

Mr. Hiroaki Sakai
Sakai International Patent Office

 According to the Japan Patent Office (JPO) Annual Report, patent applications filed around the world totaled 3.16 million in 2017, which marked a sharp increase of 1.64 times in 10 years. This growth is fueled by rapid technological innovation. It is also worth noting that China is the main factor behind the increase in international applications due to its astounding rise in the number of patent applications made by Chinese companies to the Chinese patent authority over several years. Companies in China are putting more emphasis on intellectual property (IP) in their management strategies. As we look at the number of patents granted globally, it totaled 1.4 million in 2017, again showing a surge of 1.8 times in a decade. We can see how strongly patents are connected with economic activities.

 When we focus on JPO, however, we have a different picture. There were 313,567 applications made in 2018, which marks a continuous decrease that totals 35,000 over 10 years. Unfortunately, companies of Japan and other countries alike seem to find Japan a less attractive country. Interestingly enough, Japanese companies have filed patent applications extensively in foreign countries which proves the importance of IP strategies that transcend national boundaries in an ever-globalizing world. In 2017, Japanese companies filed as many as 1.99 million patent applications abroad, of which the USA (about 860,000 applications) and China (about 410,000 applications) combined accounted for a large proportion of 64%.

 As we take a closer look at IP expenditures of Japanese companies, patent application related costs totaled 500 billion yen in 2017 and accounted for nearly 67% of the overall expenditures of about 750 billion yen. This long practice of excessive emphasis on patent application shows that Japanese companies lag behind making strategic application of IP. Western companies spearhead the so-called IP landscaping that identifies a company’s assets to develop an efficient IP management, promotes the utilization of patents to embrace open innovation as well as conducts IP due diligence to ensure sound M&A.

 Having said that, we should also focus that the balance of charges for the use of IP in Japan marked the record high 3.5 trillion yen surplus in 2018, according to the Balance of Payments statistics issued by the Ministry of Finance. Japanese companies play an instrumental role in the IP trade transactions in this globalizing world.

 In the world of IP, China is considered as a rising superpower in recent years. Japanese companies are encouraged to make strategic use of their own patents and to enhance IP management that will be a source of business profits and vitality. When we reaffirm the importance of IP strategy, Japan will be on the right track toward becoming an IP-based nation.

Sky over the Metropolis, its Current Status and Challenges

September 25, 2019

Mr. Toshiaki Norita
Executive Vice President,

 1. Current status of aerial transport
 The number of domestic air passengers in Japan totaled 120 million in 2017, of which 60% traveled from Haneda Airport. International air passengers marked 96 million and increased 1.8 times over 10 years since the Lehman Brothers collapse and subsequent financial crisis, mainly spurred by entries of international LCCs (Low Cost Carriers) and an increasing number of inbound tourists. International LCCs now account for 21.7% of the whole, a notable expansion from 0.4% just 10 years ago. Likewise, inbound tourists have surged 3.9 times from 8 million in 2007 to 31 million last year. Airports used as international flight hubs in Japan have gained the world’s top evaluation on the merits of their cleanliness, user friendliness, staff quality, security level and baggage handling procedures.

 2. Haneda and Narita Airports playing different roles
 Haneda Airport enjoys easy access to central Tokyo and attracts many business travelers using FSCs (Full-Service Carriers). A total of 50 daytime international flights will be added per day next spring, thanks to the new flight paths opening above the metropolis to accommodate additional inbound tourists foreseen as we host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer.

 Narita Airport is used by connecting flights between South East Asia and North America as well as many domestic and international LCCs. Demand for international LCCs is foreseen to increase steadily whereas connecting flights may decrease due to growing competition among major airports in neighboring North Asian countries as well as the introduction of long-haul carriers that can directly connect South East Asia and North America.

 3. Challenges that await in 10 years and beyond
 Domestic flights are estimated to grow steadily for the time being. As for international flights, the average annual growth rate is forecasted at 3.5% globally and 4.8% for Asia and the Pacific over the coming 20 years. To meet the target of welcoming 60 million inbound tourists by 2030 set by the Japanese government, we have to overcome a number of challenges.

 One is to expand the function and capacity of airports. While there are plans to construct new runways both at Haneda and Narita Airports, it will take at least 10 years. It is thus imperative to make maximum use of local airports. The other challenge is to secure necessary manpower, including pilots, aircraft mechanics and baggage handlers. We also need to maintain infrastructures and repair time-related deteriorations as well as improve access to airports so that Japan continues to be the frontrunner in providing high-quality aviation services.