Late last month, the Diet passed a revised bill paving the way for so-called “super cities” or “smart cities.” Supporters tout them as high-tech marvels where artificial intelligence and big data are to be used to provide more efficient and cost-effective solutions to social problems, especially in areas faced with aging and declining populations and a reduced tax base. Opponents warn that data leaks could lead to privacy violations and even a surveillance state. Here’s a look at Japan’s Super City Initiative.

What was the purpose of the recently passed bill?

In order to realize the creation of smart cities in various parts of the country, any number of basic regulations involving multiple ministries needs to be changed. The May 27 revision to a national strategic special zone law included measures the government can now take to do that more quickly and under more specific guidelines.