『保健医療科学』 2023 第72巻 第1号 p.2-13（2023年2月）
Topics ： Recent topics in public health in Japan 2023 <Review>
The challenge to develop and implement artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in health and medical care in Japan
Department of Health Policy and Technology Assessment, National Institute of Public Health
Since the statement by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016, the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Japan has progressed rapidly. AI can be used and applied in several domains, of which health and medical care are among the most important and most emphasized. In this article, the history of the challenges to develop AI technologies in Japan is outlined and past achievements and future prospects for the research, development, and implementation of AI are reviewed and discussed, with a particular focus on the fields of health and medical care.
AI is clearly identified as one of the core technologies needed to promote science, technology, and innovation and to grow the economy of Japan. AI was first mentioned in the fifth phase of the “Science, Technology and Innovation Basic Plan,” in which AI was regarded as an important part of realizing “Society 5.0.” A specific vision for promoting the application of AI has then been presented in the “Integrated Innovation Strategy,” an annual action program for realizing this basic plan. Additionally, in an annual strategy that presents a comprehensive set of initiatives for economic growth, AI has been described as a key measure for economic growth and productivity improvement in Japan.
In the “Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy,” which was formulated in 2017 by the Strategic Council for AI Technology, a council composed of three ministries (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) relevant to AI, the priority areas specified included productivity, health, medical care, welfare, mobility, and information security. Subsequently, the “Social Principles of Human-Centric AI,” which were formulated in 2019, described ethics and other issues that should be considered in the utilization of AI. In line with this strategy and these principles, the first “AI Strategy” was developed in 2019 by the Cabinet Office, and a framework for promoting AI throughout the government, including all ministries, was established. In this strategy, key areas in which social implementation should be achieved were designated. These areas included health, medical care, long-term care, agriculture, national resilience, transportation infrastructure and logistics, regional revitalization (smart cities), and manufacturing.
Because health and medical care have been defined from the beginning as a priority area in which to promote the application of AI, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare began its efforts on AI quite early and has taken on a leading role. The process chart for accelerating the development of AI in the field of health and medical care was released in 2020, and priority areas were identified, including genomic medicine; support for diagnostic imaging; support for diagnosis and treatment; drug discovery and development; long-term care and dementia; support for surgical procedures; prevention; infrastructure for the development of AI; and improvement in the efficiency of operations for reimbursing medical fees. Of these priority areas, diagnostic imaging is the most advanced because it has the largest number of related research projects, resulting in the completion of a database through collaboration among six related academic societies. With regard to other cases, the project to integrate data held by industry and academia on drug targets, efficacy, and toxicity and to build AI for drug discovery and the “AI Hospital System” project were conducted. The AI Hospital System aims at providing highly advanced medical services, improving the efficiency of medical care, reducing burden on medical personnel, and increasing the productivity of medical care.
keywords: artificial intelligence (AI); ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI); Society 5.0; social implementation; diagnostic imaging