What's Behind Japan's Love Affair with Robots?
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August 3, 2009: Much more than any other developed nation, Japan is fascinated by and enamored by robots, with Japanese corporations sponsoring prestigious robotics research even when it is unprofitable. Furthermore, the nation has more than a quarter million industrial robots - more than any other nation - to offset a shrinking workforce resulting from its declining birth rates and lack of immigration.

Another reason might be found in the native Shinto religion which blurs the differences between living beings and objects, and supports the notion that the latter might have souls - including robots. Furthermore, while robots are often portrayed as unfeeling menaces or outright evil in Western media - or at the very least are seen as threats to job security - their portrayal in Japanese media is generally more positive, at times even heroic.



Game and Story Use

  • Making Japan the world leader in robotics technology in a Twenty Minutes into the Future or Cyberpunk setting wouldn't be much of a stretch.
  • When robots rise up against the humans and try to kill them all in a Robot War scenario, Japan might be the place where the robot revolution starts - as Japan is likely one of the first nations to completely automate entire industries, thus making robot self-replication possible.
    • An interesting scenario might be a robot revolution that only occurs in Japan, with robots ruling over the local humans, but not outright killing them (well, not most of them). The other nations now have to face the dilemma of either striking now against the robots - possibly involving multiple nuclear weapons in order to stop them before they can spread - or trying a more diplomatic approach and eventually accepting the robots as diplomatic and trade partners (it is also possible that some hybrid robot-human culture will emerge eventually in Japan).
    • Alternatively, Japan might not actually see a violent robot revolution because the Japanese will see robots as full partners - while the more paranoid leaders of other nations insist on so many controls on the robots that the robots there lash out in retaliation…
  • In a fantasy setting, a nation might be similarly fascinated with creating ever-more sophisticated golems.
  • The Japanese might well be early adopters when the technology to upload a human personality into a machine becomes available - once you become used to ubiquitous robots, becoming one may well seem less deviant - and this in turn may fuel a "rights" movement for "non-organic persons".
  • Also, if the "love affair" becomes less metaphorical, syskeviphilia (or something similar) may become an issue…
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