It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Open Source Software (OSS) has changed the landscape of the tech world forever.
In fact, it can even be argued that if it weren’t for OSS, the technology we have access to today just wouldn’t be the same. Most of the inventions and innovative technologies that form the basis of the conveniences we’re so used to having at our fingertips wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for OSS and open-source communities.
This is why many engineers and other tech professionals who are considering relocating or already living in Japan are curious about the country’s own open-source communities.
In this article, I’ll do a deep dive precisely there — the unique realm of open-source communities in Japan and talk about some of the country’s most prominent domestic OSS. I’ll also feature some insights and opportunities for software engineers that want to work in Japan.
Let’s dive right in.
The Emergence of Open-Source in Japan
In order to understand the emergence of OSS and open-source communities in Japan, we first need to look at how and when the whole concept of open-source came to be.
However, while it’s easy to list all the perks and benefits that came with the emergence of open-source software, pinpointing exactly when and how open-source software and, therefore, open-source communities became a thing is quite a difficult task to tackle.
Still, if we have to start from somewhere, the history of Linux can be a good place to begin.
Linux OS — The Cathedral and The Bazaar
As you may know, the first prototype of Linux, which is an open-source operating system that’s still the basis for plenty of software and systems used today, was invented back in 1991 by Linus Torvalds.
Following this, the Linux OS gained a lot of traction in the following years, especially with the emergence of Red Hat Incorporated around 1994, which was the biggest Linux distributor at the time. With the increasing popularity of Linux, many other distributors began popping up around this time as well.
However, while Linux already existed as an open-source operating system, the concept of open-source wasn’t mainstream back then. This was until “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” a groundbreaking essay that’s well known for conceptualizing the idea of open-source for the first time, was published by Eric Raymond in 1997.
In this essay, Raymond used the metaphor of a bazaar and a cathedral by likening the Linux kernel and the way it was developed to an open bazaar, where individuals are free to contribute in a pre-established but shell-like space, without the existence of a master plan.
Then, analogous to a “cathedral,” he described the state of the commercial world at the time, especially in the tech world, likening the building of software (at the time) to the construction process of a cathedral, where everything is planned out in great detail and carried out by a team.
However, while this was the first popular conceptualization of the open-source model, the term “open-source” itself wasn’t mentioned in the essay. Instead, the term was popularized the following year.
Inspired by this bazaar and cathedral analogy, in 1998, Netscape published the source code for its then-popular product, the Netscape Navigator browser, and the term “open-source” was mentioned.
Rise of Linux and the Emergence of Open Source in Japan
By the time the previous millennium came to an end, most of the big players in the hardware manufacturing industry were all on board with the idea of Linux and its open-source nature.
In fact, companies even began contributing to the open-source platform themselves, and Linux quickly became the standard operating system for many companies in the tech world.
As the community that’s contributing to Linux grew larger, the first few years saw huge leaps in its development, so much so that the OS started to gain traction in other industries. By 2003, Linux’s functionality was so improved that it was ready to go full-on mainstream.
It was around this time when Japan — like the rest of the world — took notice and took the first step in OSS development. The same year, the “Japan OSS Promotion Forum” was founded by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry in order to explore the possibilities and challenges that open-source systems would bring about.
Under the umbrella of the Japan OSS Promotion Forum, many contributing companies in Japan explored the landscape of open-source development at the time and reviewed the Linux kernel and its implementations extensively.
As a result, companies even quickly began developing tools that can help overcome the challenges posed by the system. These challenges weren’t tackled individually, either, as developers from various companies came together as part of the growing open-source community. Company developers actively and collectively made contributions to explore the possibilities and problems that may arise out of an open-source future.
As this was merely the foundation of OSS in Japan, the following years say the growth of a large community centered around OSS. As open-source went from being a simple solution to software that’s gated by corporations to a basic principle or a philosophy for innovation in tech, the open-source community in Japan has also evolved and grown over the years.
The Current Landscape of Open-Source Communities in Japan
Since the emergence of Linux and OSS, a lot has changed, and OSS is now a crucial part of today’s world in terms of innovation. So, the open-source scene in Japan, like many other countries, has also flourished into a vibrant, diverse community.
Today, there are many communities in Japan that have turned the country into quite the hub for open-source development, and here are some of the most prominent ones.
Prominent OSS Communities in Japan and Their Contributions
For starters, if you’re looking to get into the open-source scene in Japan and are wondering what sorts of projects people are working on, a good place to start can be this list of great developers and cool projects in Japan. It can be a great resource overall and a good starting point for getting into Japan’s open-source communities.
With that said, here are some recommendations, including programming languages, libraries, tools, CMS, and frameworks popular in Japan. I tried to include all of the well-known ones so that you won’t have to go on a wild goose chase.
More on getting involved in Japanese open-source communities in the practical sense in a bit.
List of Open-Source Programming Languages from Japan
Although not all of them are as well-known as Ruby, Japan has its fair share of open-source programming languages. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent ones.
Ruby: One of the most popular languages in the world, Ruby originated in Japan. Here’s a guide if you want to contribute.
SATySFi: A typesetting programming language from Japan that’s a great alternative to other languages like LaTeX. You can check out the Wiki page if you want to learn more.
Gauche: Gauche is a scheme processing system, and it’s a great scripting language as well. You can learn more about Gauche by checking out their documentation (in Japanese) or the GitHub page.
W32TeX: A rare distribution of TeX that offers Japanese support. It also comes with the TeX installer as the official Japanese version. You can learn more about W32TeX on its official website.
MessagePack: MessagePack includes data recording formats like JSON and YML and is widely used in game development and machine learning. MessagePack also offers libraries for many languages, including PHP, Scala, and Python. You can check out MessagePack’s official website to learn more.
List of Open-Source Libraries from Japan
There are also a large number of open-source libraries from Japan you can check out and make contributions yourself. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Blurry: Blurry offers libraries that you can incorporate into Android applications. Learn more about it in the official “Readme” on the GitHub page.
Chainer: Although its development was discontinued, Chainer is a great deep Learning framework. Check out the official Chainer Wiki for more and learn how you can contribute here.
Kuromoji: A morphological analysis engine, Kuromoji is Java-based. Find out more about it as well as how you can contribute in the official documentation of Kuromoji.
NES.css: A great one for gamers, NES.css is a CSS component library that has a retro-game style, as you can especially tell by the NES-era 8-bit influence. Here’s a link to the official website. Find out how you can contribute here.
Sudachi: This one is similar to Kuromoji as it’s another morphological analysis engine that’s based on Java. Check out the official Sudachi documentation to find out more.
kv: Entirely developed in C++, kv is a library for numerical calculation and interval calculation. You can learn more about Kv on the official website, which includes both English and Japanese. Keep in mind that you also need Boost C++ Libraries to use it.
Unreduxed: A state management library for React, Unreduxed, was created so that developers don’t have to ever deal with re-rendering React components. You can learn more about the library on the official GitHub page.
UniRX: For programmers who do Reactive programming in Unity, UniRX is a great library. It comes from the same developer that developed C# libraries like MessagePack-CSharp, ZeroFormatter, and Utf8Json. Check out the official UniRX “Readme” to learn more.
List of Open-Source Tools from Japan
BoostNote.next: BoostNote is a Markdown editor that allows great flexibility when managing snippets. You can get the standalone app free of charge, but you can also get additional paid online services to increase the functionality of the tool, such as being able to edit the same code with multiple people simultaneously. Check out the official “Readme” and this guide on how you can contribute.
LicenseToolPlugin: Built for Android, LicenseToolPlugin is a license management plugin. It’s a handy plugin that makes it easy to deal with troublesome and important license notation when using Open-Source Software. You can check out the official GitHub page or check out the “Readme” to learn more.
Oha: This is a tool that allows you to make a large number of HTTP requests at once in order to perform load-testing benchmarks. You can check out the official GitHub page for the code base and learn how you can contribute to the project in the official documentation.
Misskey: Misskey is a decentralized SNS. The tool especially shines with its modern UI and rich functionality. The added implementation of ActivityPub also allows communication with other networks, such as Mastodon and Pixelfed. Check out the code base on the official Misskey GitHub page and find out how you can contribute in the contribution guide.
GitBucket: Similar to GitHub, GitBucket is a Git web platform. It helps quite a bit that the layout of the operation view is very similar in design to GitHub. You can find out how you can contribute here, and check out the official documentation to learn more.
h2o: This is a very fast HTTP server. Comparisons show that it’s even faster than other popular servers like Nginx or Apache. You can reach the code base on the official GitHub page and see how you can contribute to the project in this contribution guide.
Trivy: Trivy is a scanning tool for detecting container vulnerability. Even though it originated in Japan, it was acquired by a company overseas that still helps to maintain the tool. Check out their official “Readme” in their GitHub and get to know how you can contribute.
Crowi: This is a handy Wiki tool that runs on Node.js, and it’s used by well-known companies like Mercari. It’s completely compatible with Markdown, and you can learn more about it on their Github page.
Marp: Marp is a tool for slide creation that can also be used with Markdown, as it allows you to transform what you’ve prepared in Markdown into instantly presentable PowerPoint slides, PDFs, and HTML. Check out the official website and see how you can contribute to Marp.
peco: Peco is a command line tool that allows you to filter the information displayed in the terminal by piping multiple commands. You can learn more about it on the official “Readme” document.
RLogin: RLogin is a terminal software that allows you to connect to and operate on Linux servers. The tool has a very neat tab functionality. You can check out the code base on the official GitHub page and read the documentation on the official website, which, unfortunately, is only available in Japanese.
TyranoScript: TyranoScript is an experimental game engine that especially shines when it comes to smartphone game development, but it can also be used for developing browser-based games. Check out the official GitHub page to find out more.
Neural Network Libraries: Published by Sony, this is a great library for machine learning. Check out how you can contribute here, and read the official documentation to learn more.
List of Open-Source CMS from Japan
In addition to all of the tools, languages, and libraries I’ve shared so far, Japan’s open-source community also has several open-source CMS (content management software) you can start contributing to right away.
Exment: Created as a web database that can manage anything, Exment is a very capable data management web system. According to the official documentation, they also allow participants to participate in Japanese in addition to English. You can check out the codebase on the official Exment GitHub page.
EC-CUBE: EC-CUBE offers a package for building e-commerce websites, and it was created with the intention of bringing “color” to the world of e-commerce. The community, like Exment, accepts participation in Japanese as well as English. Find out how you can contribute to EC-CUBE, and check out their official documentation for more detail.
List of Open-Source Frameworks from Japan
Finally, here are a couple of noteworthy examples of open-source frameworks from Japan that you can start contributing to today:
Fleur: Fleur is a fully-typed, type interference Flux framework that’s testing-friendly. It runs on Node and Web and doesn’t depend on React. You can learn more about it in the official “Readme,” which can be found on the official GitHub page.
Clack: A framework that was influenced by Ruby’s Rack and Python’s WSGI, Clack is Common Lisp’s Web Application Environment. You can head over to the official GitHub page for the code base and find out how you can contribute to Clack.
Key Opportunities for Software Engineers in Japan’s OSS Scene
In addition to being innovation-friendly in terms of development, open-source software can also be a great opportunity for engineers who are looking to hone their skills, make a name for themselves among peers, or simply network and meet like-minded individuals.
Especially for a foreigner in Japan, the country’s vast world of open-source software is filled to the brim with opportunities. As a result, you’ll also feel more “settled in,” as contributing and networking will give you a sense of belonging.
Let’s now see what the OSS scene in Japan can do for you, as well as what else you can do to contribute to Japan’s OSS.
How to Get Involved in Japan’s Open-Source Community
As we mentioned, if you’re looking for open-source community projects, perhaps the best place you should start looking is a platform like GitHub. Yes, the good ol’ reliable.
This may just be pointing out the obvious yet again, but a post on OSS wouldn’t be complete without emphasizing GitHub, as it’s the platform for software development online. Besides, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t think to look right under their noses when they start looking for something.
There are, however, alternative platforms, like CodeTriage, which is a social contribution platform for open-source projects.
Unlike GitHub, which is an all-rounder when it comes to social software development platforms, CodeTriage is a bit more collaboration-focused. This means that it can be a great tool to get you started right away. Instead of just checking out others’ projects, you can find a project you can become a part of more easily and start contributing right away.
While neither CodeTriage nor GitHub is specific to Japan, both are very popular in Japan and commonly used among software developers, so you should be able to find both Japanese and international open-source software easily.
Finding Communities, Tracking Events, Attending Workshops
Now, with all our basics covered, let’s get to the meet of the matter. Online platforms are great, but if you’re looking for a more hands-on and personal approach, another great way to get involved in the open-source community in Japan is to join meetup groups and track OSS-related events.
I talked about this several times in my post about tech meetups in Tokyo and my guides to the tech communities in Fukuoka and the Osaka-Kyoto area, but Japan is no short of great tech communities you can easily join. The best part is that you don’t even have to speak Japanese to start!
Besides, these communities can help you make personal connections as well as professional ones if you’re feeling lonely in a foreign country and want to make friends with like-minded people.
Of course, if you aren’t exactly keen on attending public events in person, there are also many online meetup groups and events you can attend. It’s all about knowing where to look, which, luckily, the guides I shared above can help with.
Overall, the key point is getting out there and making connections, be it online or in person.
This is why even if you think that you know a particular topic well, attending a workshop about it when the opportunity arises can be a good idea. Simply put, it’ll at least give you a chance to be in the same environment with many people of similar interests, where you’re very likely to learn a thing or two in the process.
Lastly, another event you can attend to get involved in the open-source scene in Japan is the Open-Source Conference. OSPN has a series of conferences throughout the year in different parts of Japan, so keep an eye on their website to find events near you. You can find videos of past conferences on this Youtube channel.
Working at Open-Source Focused Companies
Last but definitely not least, another great way you can get involved in the open-source community in Japan is by working for a company that works in open-source software.
There are many companies on the Japan Dev list that work on OSS in Japan, but here are a few that are vocal about their stand on open-source development.
Treasure Data is a company that offers a great customer data platform (CDP) and explicitly states that open-source is “in their DNA.”
The company invests in open-source projects, and it has invented an open-data protocol used by tech giants such as Apple and Uber. Treasure Data has also created one of the world’s largest Hadoop user communities.
In addition, the company engineers have developed numerous open-source products of their own, with some examples being Fluentd, Embulk, Fluent Bit, and Digdag. You can check out Treasure Data’s GitHub page to learn more about their past and ongoing projects.
Money Forward is a FinTech company that offers financial management software for both individual users and businesses. The company is a big supporter of open-source development and encourages employees to work on open-source projects.
In fact, Money Forward is so supportive that they allow some employees to work on open-source projects during work hours. What’s more, employees get to keep the copyright of their work, even if they worked on the project on company time.
You can learn more about Money Forward and their projects on the company’s GitHub page.
Rakuten Group is a multi-faceted technology conglomerate that operates in several industries, namely e-commerce, fintech, digital content, and communications.
Rakuten is another supporter of open-source community projects, and much of Rakuten’s software is open-source.
In addition, you can also check out all the open-source projects of Rakuten Rewards, a cash-back company owned by Rakuten, on their dedicated open-source page.
The company also has a very active GitHub page that’s frequently updated, so make sure to check it out.
Cybozu is a company that’s all about collaboration within communities, as the company offers groupware products for companies and organizations.
Cybozu takes open-source seriously, and they have a dedicated page with links to their open-source policy both in English and in Japanese. Additionally, you can find lots of valuable information regarding the company’s contributions in the OSS space, as well as the projects they’ve supported throughout the years.
Cybozu also believes that individuals are entitled to their work, as the company also allows employees to keep the copyright of the open-source projects that they worked on individually.
The company also has a GitHub page where you can check out all of the featured projects.
Infostellar is a GSaaS (ground segment as a service) provider, and they have a cloud network that allows flexible ground station services. The company was established in 2016 and has been making it easier for companies to enter the space industry with its products since then.
The company is also known for its contributions to the open-source space, and they have a GitHub page where you can check out all of the company’s open-source projects.
Cookpad is one of the earliest successful startups in Japan, as it was founded all the way back in 1997. The company is Japan’s number one recipe-sharing website.
Cookpad has a Ruby-focused development team, and, as you’d expect, it also contributes to the open-source software scene. They have an active GitHub page where you can check out all of the open-source projects the company has worked on.
Why Contribute to Open Source?
If everything I’ve told you so far hasn’t been enough to convince you that contributing to open-source software can do wonders for your career, let’s talk about a few concrete benefits before we move on to some success stories in Japan’s open-source community.
First and foremost, contributing to open-source can be a great way to enhance your portfolio and show off your skills. There’s no denying that having at least a few open-source projects under your belt alone will be helpful in getting you a job at a good company.
After all, your contribution to open-source is a direct reflection of your work, and the fact that it was done selflessly, without being part of a job and getting paid for it, shows your genuine interest in the field.
However, there are even more impactful benefits of contributing to the open-source space other than finding a job, and that is building a personal brand.
Other Benefits: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Having your work out there available for everyone to see is a great way to let your actions speak rather than your own words, and this can help you build a natural, organic brand that’s stronger than one seemingly built on pure advertisement devoid of any merit.
Besides, working on open-source means that you’ll work on other developers’ projects as well. This can give you insight as to how others work and can provide you with a new perspective that’ll help you improve as a developer in the long run.
Lastly, another benefit of contributing to open-source is that you get to improve your communication and collaboration skills. As the open-source scene is largely based on collaboration, you’ll learn to work with people more efficiently and learn to communicate with people from vastly different backgrounds.
All in all, working on open-source is way more likely to pay off than it’s not, so why not start today? Also, while you’re working on your portfolio, don’t forget to check the Japan Dev job board regularly to not miss out on the latest job opportunities.
Having given you a general overview of Japan’s OSS landscape, let’s now talk about a few particularly interesting success stories from Japan’s open-source community, and what better way to start than with Ruby, the open-source programming language that originated in Japan.
The widely popular Ruby is a well-known open-source success story. The programming language was created by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in Japan.
The creator states that he was inspired by other languages, such as Smalltalk, Ada, Perl, Lisp, and Eiffel, and that he created Ruby by combining his favorite parts from these languages.
The peculiar thing about it, though, is that it wasn’t created out of necessity or convenience but out of love for the craft itself. Matsumoto began developing Ruby a few short years after he graduated while he was working at a programming lab.
He says that he was aiming to create a language with features that no other scripting language had at the time — he wanted a language that would feel less toy-like than Perl and a truer object-oriented language than Python.
However, the true source of Matsumoto’s motivation was his and other developers’ happiness. In the end, that’s what he got — a happy bunch of developers that still use the wildly popular language today.
Even in his public presentations, Matsumoto has openly stated that his aim for creating and popularizing Ruby was to get programmers to enjoy programming. With all this love poured into the project, Ruby was set up for success and quickly gained popularity.
The cherry on top of this, however, was that Matsumoto was hired a few years later by Netlab to work on the programming language full-time.
By the beginning of the new millennium, Ruby was more popular in Japan than Python. This popularity caused it to spread out to the rest of the world, and with the help of contributions like Ruby on Rails, the programming language became one of the most popular ones, and it’s still number one in Japan today.
You can check out Matsumoto’s Twitter page to learn more about him and his projects.
Jenkins is an open-source continuous delivery and deployment automation server from Japan and yet another open-source success story that’s community-driven.
Created by Kohsuke Kawaguchi in 2004, the open-source and collaborative nature of Jenkins is no coincidence, as it was originally a project that derived from the work of Oracle, a well-established tech corporation best known for arguably the most popular programming language for corporate use — Java.
While Jenkins was originally based on Oracle’s Hudson, the company later stopped its development and donated Hudson to the Eclipse Foundation, which is an organization aimed at promoting and supporting open-source development.
Just as it was created as a community-driven project derivative of another company’s work, Jenkins is still being developed by the OSS community. Today, the development of Jenkins is managed open-source by the CD Foundation, which is a subsidiary of the Linux Foundation.
If you want to learn more about Jenkins and its creator, you can check out Kawaguchi’s Twitter page and find out more about all of his projects.
Created by Sadayuki “Sada” Furuhashi, Fluentd is an open-source data collector that allows users to unify the collection and consumption of data. The software was originally created as a project of Treasure Data, a Mountain View-based company that provides a customer data platform.
Even though the project was created by Furuhashi, who’s the co-founder of the company, the source code of the project was shared briefly after the conception of the software in 2011, and it’s been developed as an open-source project since then.
Upon its release to the public, Fluentd instantly became a success, as it was even recommended by Amazon Web Services in 2013, just two short years after its initial release.
Since then, dozens of people have joined the community to contribute to Fluentd, and the project has reached thousands of users. Fluentd has also received hundreds of plugins that are developed by the community in the meantime.
The project was also accepted to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in 2016, and it reached “graduated” status in terms of project maturity level back in 2019.
Today, Fluentd is still being developed as an open-source project by a strong community of contributors. You can learn more about the creator and his other works by visiting his Twitter page.
Sustainable Development of OSS: Challenges in the Open-Source Space
Covering the importance and the many triumphs of the open-source scene is surely crucial. However, this wouldn’t be a complete guide if we didn’t touch on a lurking issue that’s become increasingly more prominent in the past decade.
In its conception stages, open-source development was mostly a thing for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and people in academia who had the time and resources to be involved in the development of open-source projects. However, as you might be aware, this is hardly the case anymore.
Today, open-source software is an integral part of the commercial software landscape, and its use is much more widespread than that of yesterday. In fact, many businesses rely on open-source software to continue operating, as the once-pastime activity has now become a commercial effort that’s expected to yield a product.
Obviously, this doesn’t really work well with the concept of open-source. After all, this is software created by enthusiasts, volunteers, and people who willingly contribute to a community that builds a product together, but a business operates on a different kind of incentive.
Besides, it’s a fact that, nowadays, everybody loves to emphasize the importance of open-source development. Working on open-source software is very common career advice to give to software engineers, just like I did here in this guide.
However, no one seems to stop and think about the sustainability of OSS.
Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions
It’s true that open-source software isn’t what it used to be. In the past, open-source projects were only for engineers who had the time and resources, but nowadays, companies hire engineers to develop open-source projects on company time.
However, unlike the organic nature of the OSS development of the past, this new commercial way is actually based on a business model that’s focused on profit or at least covering the cost of development.
So, if an open-source project seems too costly, corporations don’t have the incentive to work on it in the first place, but wasn’t OSS a concept that was built on community support, collective improvement, and selfless, voluntary work in the first place?
Once there’s an added incentive of profit, projects get filtered out due to their cost, and this model just doesn’t allow for the once “out of left field” and unexpectedly successful projects to come to life, as they aren’t even given a chance in the first place due to their projected cost.
As you can see, this perspective makes it clear that true open-source development is still done by the individuals contributing to a community, not by corporations themselves.
Engineers who are employed by a company and get paid to work on open-source projects get paid for their time, so this is still a great development despite the fact that not all companies that work on OSS share the same passion that brought the community together. So, the issue may seem to be resolved from this perspective.
However, this still doesn’t answer the important question: how do individuals that make OSS or contribute to open-source make money?
Honestly, it hasn’t been easy to come up with an answer to this question in the past, but luckily, things are changing as new business models and methods emerge.
Funding Open Source Projects
In the past, one of the very few ways independent programmers who create open-source software could make money was by accepting donations through their websites through PayPal links. Thankfully, the last decade saw the popularization of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, and this donation process has become much more streamlined now.
You can imagine how platforms like this help immensely and feel much better than putting a price tag on a product. This way, in principle, programmers don’t get paid for the product they create but for their efforts in contributing to the open-source scene, which feels more appropriate to the concept of open-source development.
What’s more, nowadays, there are other modern solutions to this modern problem, as platforms such as IssueHunt and OpenCollective are becoming popular as a result of this very issue. Platforms like IssueHunt allow contributors of OSS to receive donations for their work, no matter how small their contributions may be.
In addition, working on sponsored projects is another way to make open-source development more sustainable. For instance, non-profit organizations like Ruby Together pay contributors for their work on Ruby-based projects.
In a similar fashion, another way to ensure sustainability in the OSS scene can be in the form of grants funded by private organizations and foundations. For example, Mozilla and Stripe are among the companies that issue grants for open-source projects.
Last but not least, another way to make money as an OSS developer is by creating revenue streams out of the services you provide. For instance, it’s not unheard of for OSS projects to lock certain quality-of-life features that aren’t crucial to the main functionality of the software behind a paywall. Similarly, you can also provide customer support for a small fee.
All in all, while there isn’t a clear-cut solution to the issue of sustainability in the OSS world, efforts are being made, and these tools I mentioned above are here to provide some relief to the people who spend hours every day working on open-source community projects.
Future of Open Source and OSS in Japan
Now that we have talked about the past and the present of OSS, it’s now time to take a brief look into the future of open-source in Japan and how the open-source community in Japan is shaping future trends.
As you can imagine, the landscape of software and technology, in general, has changed quite a bit since the concept of open-source first emerged in the last century. While the internet was a novel concept back then, today, everything’s connected to the internet, and we even keep our digital storage online.
So, while the past trends were more focused on utilizing the internet for its original purpose, which was to connect computers all over the world, in simplest terms, nowadays, we’re finding alternative ways to utilize it. IoT (Internet of Things) and Artificial Intelligence are among the biggest trends and are both about utilizing the internet to make things and processes smarter.
So, in a way, everything is becoming software-based with the power of high-speed internet at our fingertips. This, as you can imagine, puts an emphasis on open-source development like never before.
Luckily, the Japanese government is already taking steps to contribute to the development of open-source systems. The reports are already talking about the Japanese government’s involvement with OpenAI (the “Open” stands for “open-source,” in case you didn’t know) and how the government is considering adopting ChatGPT.
This isn’t new for Japan, too. Another news report shows that the government was interested in open-source systems as early as 2002 and was considering adopting open-source systems way back then.
So, the Japanese government’s interest and support in OSS isn’t anything new, and their recent involvement with ChatGPT only shows that this support will grow even stronger in the future.
As you can see, open-source in Japan isn’t a new concept. In fact, we can even go as far as to say that the concept originated in Japan in a sense.
The government has always been in support of open-source projects, and there have been a large number of OSS that came out of Japan still used by millions around the world. What’s more, there are quite a lot of strong communities, meetup groups, and organizations that support the development of OSS in Japan.
This is especially important for foreign engineers because, in today’s landscape, contributing to open-source is one of the best ways you can prove your skills and talent. In fact, it can even be argued that it’s more important than your professional experiences. Open-source projects stem from a different kind of motivation, one that’s much more sincere and genuine.
So, in today’s world, working on open-source projects is one of the best things you can do for your self-improvement and your career. If you’re an engineer who wants to work in an innovative environment that supports open-source, considering Japan can be a good idea for your career and your future as a developer.
If you’re looking for opportunities, make sure to check out my article about job hunting in Japan. If you don’t plan on moving anytime soon, you can also check out my on the best tech companies that hire from overseas as well.