Tourism Recovery Helps Japan Grow in First Quarter
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Tourism Recovery Helps Japan Grow in First Quarter

Gross domestic product rose at 1.6% annualised pace in January-March period

By MEGUMI FUJIKAWA
Thu, May 18, 2023 8:47amGrey Clock 2 min

TOKYO—Japan’s economy showed a bigger-than-expected upswing in the first quarter, helped by a recovery in tourism that offset sluggishness in some leading economies.

Japan has just begun to benefit from post pandemic pent-up demand of the kind the U.S. experienced more than a year ago. Tokyo waited until last October to remove border controls for overseas tourists and lifted restrictions on big events earlier this year.

The world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China expanded 0.4% in the three months to March from the previous quarter, government data showed Wednesday, slightly above forecasts.

The Japanese economy grew at an annualised rate of 1.6%, outpacing 1.1% growth for the same quarter in the U.S., where high inflation and rising interest rates hit consumers. In China, another top market for Japanese-made goods, recent economic indicators such as the youth unemployment rate and retail sales have pointed to a sluggish recovery.

Economists say the main growth driver in Japan remains domestic demand. Spending is likely to pick up further after recent wage negotiations resulted in the biggest pay increase in three decades. The pace of inflation has slowed recently thanks to the government’s measures to ease the impact of higher energy prices and declines in import prices.

Overall consumer prices in Japan rose 3.2% from a year earlier in March, compared with 4.9% inflation in the U.S. in April.

In the January-March period, private consumption in Japan increased 0.6% from the previous quarter. Government travel subsidies boosted spending on hotels and restaurants.

Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto said the economy would likely continue a modest recovery, supported by higher wages and corporate investment.

“We will realise sustainable economic growth led by private demand,” he said.

In another positive sign, the number of foreign tourists is quickly approaching the pre pandemic level, and those tourists are spending more than they did before the pandemic.

Spending per international visitor in the January-March quarter was ¥212,000, equivalent to $1,553. That was 44% more than the average visitor spent in the same period in 2019, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

While domestic spending is likely to stay healthy this summer, the risk of slower growth in the U.S., China and elsewhere looms over the Japanese economy.

“Goods exports and production will struggle so long as the global economy flirts with recession,” said Stefan Angrick, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Japan’s exports dropped 4.2% in the first quarter from the one before it due to slowing growth abroad triggered by monetary tightening in the U.S. and other countries as well as weaker chip demand.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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