PM meets robot, talks innovation in Japan


A meeting with a robot and an astronaut has kicked off Malcolm Turnbull’s first trip as prime minister to Japan.

Mr Turnbull landed in Tokyo ahead of a bilateral meeting with Japanese leader Shinzo Abe and a lunchtime address to business leaders.

Japan has been chosen for Mr Turnbull’s first North Asia trip because it is Australia’s second largest trading partner and one of the most innovative countries in the world.

The prime minister has made the ‘ideas boom’ central to his economic plan.

The first event will be a visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation where the prime minister will interact with the world’s most advanced humanoid robot ASIMO.

He will also tour the museum with its director, Japanese astronaut Dr Mamoru Mohri and astrophysicist Professor Brian Schmidt.

A round table with leading researchers in innovation and Australian university vice-chancellors will be followed by the signing of a new deal with Japan on regenerative medicine research.

Regenerative medicine includes treatments around stem cells and gene therapy intended to restore the function of damaged organs and tissues.

The market in Japan for regenerative medicines is projected to grow to more than $17 billion by 2030, according to the Japanese government.

The prime minister will use his bilateral meeting with Mr Abe to raise Australia’s concerns about Japan’s whaling plans, as well as discuss trade and investment.

The issue of Japan’s bid to build Australia’s next generation of submarines will also be discussed.

Mr Turnbull will deliver an address to a business leaders’ lunch and launch an Iron Chef-style Australian food competition.