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Minister in Osaka on Slovenian-Japanese University Cooperation Agreement, Robotics and Smart Cities Strategy

The main topics of the visit of the Minister for Digital Transformation, Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh, to Osaka, Japan on 24 November 2022 were the announcement of deeper cooperation between Slovenian universities and the University of Osaka and its research centres, the use of robots in creating a more inclusive society, and the role of the Smart City Strategy in ensuring the digital and green transition.

Minister for Digital Transformation, Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh, visited Osaka University. This is the first visit by a representative of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to this university, which brings together eleven faculties, six independent postgraduate schools and six research institutes. The President of the University, Dr Nishio Shojiro, and the Executive Vice President, Mr Kawahara Genta, agreed to sign an agreement next year to start a deeper cooperation between the universities and research centres of the two countries in the fields of information and communication technologies, as well as in the social and natural sciences.

Minister Dr Stojmenova Duh then visited the Smart Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University, where new information media based on human-like robots are being researched. The head of the laboratory, Professor Dr Hiroshi Ishiguro, one of the most prominent scientists in the field of robotics, presented to the Minister the importance of robots and avatars in creating a more inclusive society through digital technology. The presentation focused on the use of robots to improve the quality of life, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities.

To conclude her official visit to Osaka, the Minister visited the prefectural headquarters, where she was welcomed by Yuji Kawaguchi, Head of Osaka's Smart City Strategy, with whom she exchanged experiences in smart city design.

Osaka, Japan's third largest city, is designed to be a super-smart city, delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, the principles of carbon neutrality and the objectives of digital transformation. Mr Kawaguchi emphasised that their smart city strategy envisages healthy and comfortable living in areas such as mobility, digital transformation of services and sustainable development.

Dr Stojmenova Duh gave a presentation on the progress made in the development of smart cities in Slovenia. As she pointed out, Slovenia is also accelerating the development of smart cities and is working on their digital and green transformation. "In doing so, we are careful to improve the quality of life for all citizens, especially the more vulnerable members of society," she added.