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Understaffed businesses are turning to such innovations as touch-panel order devices, food-serving robots and self-service checkouts, instead of taking on new workers.

18 Comments

Masahiko Yamada, director-general of the labor ministry’s Employment Security Bureau, citing corporate investments in labor-saving technologies as a reason why the ratio of job offers to seekers fell in fiscal 2023 for the first time in three years.

© Yomiuri Shimbun

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Masahiko Yamada, director-general of the labor ministry’s Employment Security Bureau, citing corporate investments in labor-saving technologies as a reason why the ratio of job offers to seekers fell in fiscal 2023 for the first time in three years.

And so it begins.

Raising pay to attract staff was just a bridge too far for Japan Inc. and the companies that have the capital are going the automation route.

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

JGovt have no idea, not so many business can really change their business process without additional capital.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Is there anything more annoying in a restaurant than a touch-panel order device? Well, yes, in some places there is a QR code and you turn your mobile phone into your own touch-panel order device.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

@Moonraker

"Is there anything more annoying in a restaurant than a touch-panel order device?" 

Yes, restaurants where the human waiter expects at least a 20% tip even if the service is mediocre. 30% and upward if the service is decent. In that situation, I'd rather deal with a tablet than a human. Local people are getting really fed up with tipflation, on top of the regular inflation.

The approach in Canada, US, UK and Western countries to the supposed demographic/labor shortage is to bring in huge numbers of unskilled immigrants. Japan's is to leverage automation and AI. I know which will turn out to be the smarter approach.

The CEO of Blackrock recently said that developed countries with declining populations will be best poised to adapt and benefit from future AI, which will revolutionize our societies.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Yes, restaurants where the human waiter expects at least a 20% tip even if the service is mediocre.

Yeah, I don't want that either. We have to choose between the lesser of two evils? That's where we are at as our revolution "progresses"? Onwards and upwards ....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

And so it begins. 

Raising pay to attract staff was just a bridge too far for Japan Inc. and the companies that have the capital are going the automation route.

Even Communist China is doing it, not like they have a population shortage....

According to the 2023 Global Consumer Insights Survey China, having more payment options available attracted 58% of respondents from mainland China and Hong Kong to use a self-checkout in a physical store.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sometimes I go to the Italian chain restaurant Saizeriya.

Hadn't been for quite a while but was pretty amazed last weekend.

At 4:00pm it was fairly busy.

All ordering was done by QR code on smartphone. Helpful explanatory leaflets were available in Japanese and English.

All payments were self service at automated registers.

It was possible to order in person but that would take time.

Aside from the automation the Biggest surprise was - Only 1 young woman was running the floor. Just one. Probably 50+ patrons at that time. Her tasks were ushering people, in clearing tables, delivering dishes and of course helping people who had no clue. She was amazing - calm, collected but off her feet.

Just a few months back any number of staff would have been on duty.

As it approached to 5:00 the families started coming in. I thought this is crazy and then 1 more staff began work.

I said to my wife - I hope they are paying them a minimum of ¥1,500/hr and hopefully more.

This will be everywhere soon.

No stopping it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Sometimes I go to the Italian chain restaurant Saizeriya.

The family restaurant chains like Jonathans and Gusto already have the "cat" robots doing the work of the 3 or 4 servers who used to work there.

https://soranews24.com/2023/07/26/japans-cat-robot-waiters-meow-when-you-pat-them-and-we-find-out-why%E3%80%90video%E3%80%91/

Seizing the means of automation might be the key to turning this LSC all around.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

this happens when corporate greed is a king.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Even Communist China is doing it, not like they have a population shortage....

The "cat" robots used in more and more service jobs, as well other automation devices, by Japan Inc. are made in "Communist China".

https://www.pudurobotics.com/product/detail/bellabot

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Of course everyone makes his choice. We go to a restaurant for the service and atmosphere, of course for the quality of food.

qr codes only and we walk. Robot or self cash out and we walk.

I do ‘t use the machines in supermarkets nor for airline check in. What many call convenient I call cheap and lack of service.

I have not seen prices come down by doing half of the work myself.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

I have not seen prices come down by doing half of the work myself.

Exactly, robert; nor salaries rise for those still in the job. And then, on top of that, so many times it doesn't work properly or is badly designed by out-of-touch IT nerds. They replaced officials with automatic immigration gates in many places but it seems to fail or be delayed half the time. The whole thing collapsed for many international airports in the UK just lately.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

robert maesToday 01:42 pm JST

Of course everyone makes his choice. We go to a restaurant for the service and atmosphere, of course for the quality of food.

qr codes only and we walk. Robot or self cash out and we walk.

I do ‘t use the machines in supermarkets nor for airline check in. What many call convenient I call cheap and lack of service.

I have not seen prices come down by doing half of the work myself.

ALL WORDS are "stolen" from my mouth,exactly same opinion.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

touch panels don’t call in sick, don’t work if they’re sick, don’t need training, don’t make mistakes unless you make it. human interaction is overrated.

on the flip side, we’re on the front of a wave of change that will affect all jobs. new equipment and incremental innovations in automation meant retraining people to use it, repair it, build it and operate it.

we're seeing more end-to-end automation, which means slave-labor jobs will disappear. poof. people will need to learn things other than repetitive tasks, but the public education system isn’t up to the task yet. a high school graduate isn’t prepared to do anything other than slave labor.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Can't self-service or robot elder-care. Going to be a severe problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mr Neil,

Not everyone has the intellectual or physical or financial means to study to a university degree. Manual jobs will always be there. And I for one feel manual labour should be much much better rewarded.

indeed touch panels don’t call in sick they just go out of order or are temporarily unavailable. They suffer software glitches or network problems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That's right. And touch screens don't buy anything either. At the end of the day, we will have the owners of the means of production and the proletariat on subsistence wages under constant surveillance. Hey, haven't I heard that kind of thing somewhere before? Of course, in the end, the prols will be surplus to requirements and the machines will do everything for the rich with just a few virtual slave workers to do what machines can't, like provide a few human services. Onwards and upwards ...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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