• Jiji


Technology giant Z Holdings Corp. is aiming to boost its services in Asia, co-chief executive officers Kentaro Kawabe and Takeshi Idezawa said in a recent interview.

Z Holdings, which brought messaging app provider Line Corp. under its wing for business integration Monday, will also make efforts to discuss ethical issues regarding the use of artificial intelligence, they said.

Z Holdings, the parent of internet portal Yahoo Japan Corp., will mainly aim to expand Line’s Asia operations.

“It’s difficult to win a market share with a messaging app,” said Idezawa, also Line’s president.

He expressed interest in developing and releasing a “superapp” that covers interactions, shopping and other services familiar to people in Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan, where the Line app has already made inroads.

Z Holdings plans to merge its PayPay and Line Pay cashless payment services by April next year.

“Rather than focusing on consolidating and shutting operations, we will discuss whether we can create value from the perspective of users,” Kawabe, who also serves as Z Holdings president, said regarding the group’s operations other than the cashless payment services.

Kawabe stressed his company’s plan to boost its AI business by investing ¥500 billion and partnering with a variety of organizations such as SoftBank Group Corp. and investment funds.

He also expressed interest in boosting cooperation with startups in Japan and Southeast Asia in which Line has already made investments.

AI technology is under scrutiny from the Group of 20 economies and other organizations for its potential violation of human rights and military use, as the technology can be used to predict people’s preferences by inferring attributes from data on their behavioral histories.

Z Holdings plans to set up an expert panel on AI ethics this spring.

Governments around the world are tightening regulations on tech giants, including Z Holdings, hoping to prevent the improper use of personal information.

“We want to offer services in a way that is welcomed by users from every region,” Kawabe said.

Kawabe warned that delays in adopting digital technologies “will have a fatal impact on industry” in Japan.

Expressing a wish to contribute to digital transformation in the public sector, Kawabe hinted at the possibility of sending high-skilled data technicians and designers from the group to the government’s new digital agency to be launched in September.

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