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Japan as Robotics Superpower

Laurent has recently moved to Japan due to his father's job transfer and has been studying at a Japanese high school.
During a recess, he noticed his friend Madoka looking at a flyer that seemed interesting.

Laurent

Hi Madoka, what is the flyer about that you are reading?
Madoka
Hi Laurent, this is about the All Japan Robot-Sumo Tournament.

Laurent

The robot-sumo tournament? Is that about the sumo matches by the robots?
Madoka
Yes. The tournament has been held since 1989. Competitors build their own sumo wrestler robots and have them fight with others.

Laurent

That sounds fun!
Madoka
There will be a high school student tournament on November 25 at the Institute of Technologists in Saitama, and an all-Japan tournament including adult participants will be held on December 16 at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. The competitors are winners of regional tournaments from throughout Japan, joined by winners of overseas robot sumo competitions from the U.S., Australia, three Baltic countries, Turkey, and more.

Laurent

Are you going to see the tournament, Madoka?

Madoka

Yes, I am going to see both the high school student tournament and the all-Japan tournament with other members of the science club I belong to. Would you like to come with us, Laurent?

Laurent

Sure, I would love to!

Madoka

In Japan, a number of robot contests are held nationwide and attract enthusiastic robot builders, both students and adults. On November 25, there will be a national tournament by students of kosen (technical college), known as ROBOCON. Students from 62 campuses of 52 technical colleges throughout Japan will bring in their own unique robots.
Laurent seems to be impressed by the high interest in robotics among Japanese people.

Laurent

I am impressed to see how much Japanese people love robotics. When I was a kid, I watched Doraemon on TV in France and believed that such a dream robot actually existed in Japan.
Madoka
That's funny. Doraemon is still an idol among Japanese children. In fact, Japanese people have a long history of being attracted to mechanical engineering. During the Edo period, for example, a mechanical doll called karakuri ningyo became really popular.

Laurent

I suppose such strong interest became a base of today's Japan as the "robotics superpower."

Madoka

You may be right. Japan has been known for its advancement in robotics engineering by achieving the leading market share in the field of industrial robots used at factories. As the development of robotic technology continues in Japan as well as in other parts in the world, robots will be used for many more purposes in various situations to help housework, nursing care, medical care, disaster rescue, and such.

Laurent

I am so excited to imagine what our lives with robots would be like in the future when we grow up.

■ All Japan Robot-Sumo Tournament http://www.fsi.co.jp/sumo/en/index.html
■ Kosen ROBOCON(in Japanese only) http://www.official-robocon.com/jp/kosen/kosen2012/index.html