India Considers Japan’s Approach for Balanced AI Regulation

As India aims to craft a regulatory framework for artificial intelligence (AI) that fosters innovation while mitigating risks, policymakers are closely studying Japan’s approach, which strikes a careful balance.

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“Japan has taken a thoughtful and nuanced stance on AI regulation that could serve as a model for India,” said Rajesh Dhawan, a senior official at India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. “Their framework encourages responsible development of AI while avoiding heavy-handed rules that could stifle this crucial emerging technology.”

Like India, Japan recognised early on the immense potential of AI to drive economic growth and improve lives. However, concerns around privacy, bias, safety and ethical issues also loomed large. Japan’s strategy has been to promote AI governance centered on risk-based guidelines and self-regulation rather than overly prescriptive laws.

In 2019, Japan unveiled its AI Governance Guidelines calling for AI systems to be human-centered, educated, robust and accountable. Rather than enforcing rigid rules, the guidelines aim to foster corporate self-governance and responsible “internal control” for AI development.

“The Japanese approach is encouraging self-regulation through soft law and guidance,” said Tanvi Bapat, an AI policy researcher at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “This allows for flexibility as AI capabilities rapidly evolve, while still holding companies accountable.”

Japan has also been active in international AI governance discussions and pushing for greater global coordination on principles and technical standards.

While taking cues from Japan, India will need to adapt any framework to its own needs and contexts. But many see Japan’s balanced, agile governance model as a pragmatic way to nurture India’s AI ambitions while proactively managing risks.

“We want to be enablers, not inhibitors of ethical AI innovation,” said Dhawan. “Japan shows us a path of upholding core values like privacy and accountability without erecting innovation-stifling barriers.”

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