Updated March 6, 2024

AI and ChatGPT in Japan: How's It Going?


Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

Artificial Intelligence and language models based on it — like ChatGPT — are all the rage. 

And it’s not just ChatGPT. Giants of the global tech scene like Google and Microsoft are all developing their own models. Nowadays, you can even find AI-powered models that generate images, videos, and 3D models from a simple prompt.

That said, the rise of AI is also disrupting many industries, causing controversies left and right. Some businesses want to use it to their advantage, while others want to ban its use conclusively. 

So, where does Japan stand on this issue of AI? 

This is what I’ll explore in this post. So, if you’re wondering whether AI usage in Japan is common or not (do these tools even work in Japanese?), and if there’s a Japanese ChatGPT, you’ve come to the right place.

Do People In Japan Use ChatGPT?

The short answer to this question is a simple “yes.” 

Just like anywhere in the world, all previous and current iterations of the language model GPT have also made waves in Japan. 

The revolutionary nature of simply “talking” to a bot to have tasks carried out or complex questions answered was extremely well received here. In fact, businesses are utilizing it to enhance their products, and even local governments are planning to implement it to run cities.

Indeed, a report by NHK, Japan's public broadcaster (Japanese source) states that in just four months during the last year, the number of services and products using ChatGPT has seen a wild increase from just 8 to a whopping 258 products. Research conducted by PR TIMES shows that about 70% of these products and services come from the IT industry.

That said, the same report indicates that many students, recruiters, and professionals also raise valid concerns and are reluctant to use GPT for motivation letters or school papers.

Concerns Regarding The Use of ChatGPT and AI in Japan


Mainly, most of the concerns center around an increased dependency on AI. NHK’s report states that inconsistencies between candidates' applications vs in-person interviews in recruitment, as well as students’ papers and in-class performances in schools, are the most common issues arising from the use of ChatGPT.

What’s more, while businesses are quick to implement ChatGPT and similar AI-based large language models in their products and services, reports state that only a small amount of businesses actually use such AI models for internal operations.

According to a report from Nikkei Asia, only about 7% of corporate employees who work in Japan stated that they use ChatGPT to carry out their daily tasks, while this rate is at about a whopping 50% for employees interviewed in the United States.

What’s more, concerns regarding the safety of ChatGPT and similar AI models are also reportedly on the rise in the country. Another Nikkei report states that the Japanese government is gearing up to form an organization focused on AI safety.

The main safety concerns regarding AI are centered around the unintended military use of common AI models. Currently, the plan is to form a council of professionals from Japan’s private sector to discuss the dangers that may arise from AI and how to navigate it without impeding current research and development in the field.

Does ChatGPT Work in Japanese?

Yes, ChatGPT does work in Japanese. If you give a prompt to the language bot in Japanese, it will respond in Japanese.

However, a warning needs to be made here, as the majority of the dataset that trained ChatGPT isn’t in Japanese. Also, as it’s a generative language model, the main goal of GPT and other similar models is to generate a result, even if there isn’t sufficient data to ensure undisputable accuracy.

Because of this, and because GPT as a language model wasn’t built to accommodate the structure of a language like Japanese, using it in Japanese can often feel too challenging.

Carefully crafted prompts can yield good results, but this depends heavily on providing additional context that Japanese requires due to how it is spoken. 

For one, as it’s quite different from English, Japanese used in everyday life involves lots of vagueness, shorthand terms, and hidden context that native speakers can understand easily. However, ChatGPT, as expected, falls short in this regard and takes multiple tiny guesses for each grammatical “gap” it finds in the given prompt, often leading to wild inaccuracies. 

Speaking of which, another caveat that comes with using ChatGPT in Japanese has to do with the accuracy of GPT-generated Japanese texts.


The Accuracy Issue

While ChatGPT works in Japanese, a big issue that still hasn’t been ironed out occurs when you prompt GPT to generate a Japanese text from scratch. 

Chatting with the bot in Japanese without any problems may be possible if you’re clear enough with your prompts. However, when users try to generate original Japanese text, such as business letters and even wedding wows, as people apparently do nowadays, the results end up half-baked.

So, while you can get help from ChatGPT in drafting that business e-mail, or even to prepare a resume in English, I would advise against relying on it to write a Japanese cover letter for your next job application. 

If you must, getting a Japanese text generated by ChatGPT and having it touched up by a native Japanese speaker, who may be a friend or colleague, can be a good idea. This will allow you to not burden your friends with the responsibility of writing a full text and have them help you out with minimal effort.

Alternatively, an even easier approach is to copy the generated text into DeepL to make minor grammar corrections. This is due to DeepL’s AI model currently yielding higher accuracy in Japanese compared to OpenAI’s GPT.

AI Usage in Japan: The Government Is More Than Eager

The government’s concerns regarding the safety of AI and its potential implementation in military use aside, it’s safe to say that, in general, the Japanese government has proven to be more eager than the private sector to start utilizing it.

According to news reports, the city government of Yokosuka has stated that it will begin utilizing ChatGPT in its municipality offices, housing over 4,000 employees. The chatbot based on the large language model was adopted following a one-month trial, which yielded positive results.

While the full extent of how GPT will be utilized is unknown, currently, the famous chatbot is already helping employees with simple tasks like editing documents, summarizing the minutes taken in meetings, and creating bulletins.

That said, Yokosuka isn’t the only local government that fell head over heels in love with GPT’s abilities. 

Tokyo Metropolitan Government is also reportedly gearing up to start using ChatGPT for internal use. Following the success of the trial conducted in Yokosuka, the city government has also decided to use ChatGPT for common clerical tasks and drafting documents.

Governor of Tokyo City, Yuriko Koike, states that while the use of AI is limited as of now, the government is constantly taking feedback from employees utilizing the AI, and is looking for ways to better implement it to run the local government more efficiently.


Conclusion: So, Is There a Japanese ChatGPT?

I might’ve spent the better half of this post explaining how ChatGPT and other AI models like Google’s Gemini are used in Japan, but this doesn’t mean that Japan doesn’t have an Artificial Intelligence scene of its own. 

As AI is taking the world by storm, and even local municipalities are utilizing ChatGPT, it would be crazy to think that Japan isn’t working on its own large language model trained using Japanese datasets. Japan’s tech scene has a history of resilience, after all.

While there isn’t a specific name or model yet, it’s reported that many corporations such as NEC, Softbank, and Fujitsu have joined in on the race to build a Japanese AI, and are making quite the investment to build a large language model that’s trained using Japanese.

A big reason why companies are spending money on a “local AI” is simple: models such as ChatGPT are largely trained by data provided in English. As the Japanese sentence structure is vastly different and more complex than English, the country isn’t able to utilize AI to its full potential.

That said, although you’ll find many articles about how Japan is responding to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, there aren’t any competent LLMs trained using Japanese as of yet.

While this is it for this post, if you want to join the local AI scene and contribute to the progress, why not check out my other posts? I introduced many AI-focused conferences from all over Japan and meetup groups for AI developers in Tokyo, Fukuoka, and the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) in detail.

Last but not least, if you enjoy events that you can actively participate in, make sure to check out my post where I introduced the best hackathons from all over Japan.


Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.