As interest in artificial general intelligence (AGI) is emerging in Japan, I try to report the situation here (mostly in the chronological order).
As far as I know, the first public presentation on AGI in Japan was a symposium on the Technological Singularity held by Fujitsu Co., in September 2012. The content of the symposium was translated into Japanese and published in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (JSAI). The same issue reports the AGI & AGI Impact conferences held in 2012.
Meanwhile, a book entitled ‘The Year 2045 Problem (2045年問題)’ on the Singularity was published on January 1, 2013 for the general public.
Toward the summer of 2013, some members of JSAI interested in AGI organized a reading group for the book Artificial General Intelligence (2006). The first meeting was held in Tokyo in July 2013 and meetings have been held monthly since then (Dr. Ben Goertzel was invited to the second meeting). The group (currently with about 20 members) is now a special interest group (not officially recognized from JSAI yet) and its major activities will be reading articles on cognitive architectures and preparing a prospective book on AGI. It has a web page and a Facebook group (both in Japanese) now.
Another important ‘movement’ on AGI, called ‘The Whole Brain Architecture,’ is emerging in Japan. This movement is basically BICA (biologically inspired cognitive architecture). The reason why it is dubbed ‘whole brain’ is that it emphasizes to get inspiration not from one brain part but from the entire brain (note that some BICA models are inspired only from the cerebral cortex or hippocampus) to create cognitive architecture that will realize AGI (the soonest way, as they say). The organizers of the Whole Brain Architecture movement are grass-root (again JSAI members) and holding monthly open seminars since December 2013. Recent seminars in Tokyo gather about 200 persons. They also have a web page and a Facebook group (in Japanese).
As one would expect, there are also cognitive robotics researches related to AGI in Japan: there are developmental cognitive robotics labs such as Asada Lab, ISI Lab & Iwahashi Lab, the special interest group for SocioIntelliGenesis that focuses on communication with/among robots, and the community of symbol emergence robotics (e.g., see here), which focuses on the symbol grounding issue (their main weaponry is LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) :-).
The May 2014 issue of the JSAI journal featured AGI. The feature articles include an introduction to AGI by Dr. Goertzel (in Japanese translation), the translation of the 2012 AI magazine article “Mapping the Landscape of Human-Level Artificial General Intelligence,” an introduction to AIXI, an article on the year 2045 problem, among others.
Almost at the same time as its publication, there was a JSAI annual convention in May, where there was an organized session on AGI (Part I & Part II), which gathered 50+ people (the convention had 14 tracks and gathered 1000+ people altogether). The English translation of the paper presented at its tutorial presentation can be found here. The convention also held a panel discussion on AGI and the film Transcendence, an event collaborated with the film distributor, having gathered also a few dozens of people. Both panels at the organized session and the Transcendence session discussed social issues of AGI. Moreover, Japan Singularity Institute has also been launched recently.
In sum, AGI is getting recognized around JSAI in Japan. As for the research side, the Whole Brain Architecture and robotic research are would-be prospects. AGI research in Japan is still grass-root and has not obtained major fundings (from the government or the major companies).