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Sustainable city planning and public administration assisted by green AI: attendant legal challenges under Japanese law

Takayuki Matsuo (Momo-o, Matsuo and Namba, Tokyo, Japan)
Shun Iwamitsu (Law School, Columbia University, New York City, New York, USA)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 28 June 2022

Issue publication date: 12 July 2022

112

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the legal conditions under which governments may use green artificial intelligence (AI) in city planning. Although Japan was one of the early countries to release its general AI principles, it has been relatively slow in establishing conditions where administrative agencies may use AI. Granted, there have been some recent scholarship that discusses the usage of AI in general under Japanese administrative law, but the use of green AI in city planning under Japanese law has not yet been discussed. Hence, this paper intends to focus on green AI in city planning and discuss the conditions for usage based on different categories of AI.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper conducts a legal analysis on the utilization of AI for the purpose of sustainable city planning and administration in Japan. The approach of this paper is to summarize the existing scholarship in Japanese administrative law and analyse the new elements in the new field of green AI in city planning. This paper is not a natural science paper. The social science method of jurisprudence is used. This paper cites only public sources, and no informal literature has been referenced.

Findings

This paper establishes the conditions where Japanese central and local government may use green AI in city planning from a legal viewpoint based on three categories. The categories are green AI usage in city planning concerning things, green AI usage in city planning concerning people and green AI usage in city planning concerning automated decision-making.

Research limitations

This research is limited to an analysis of Japanese law, which means that issues other than law are not included in this paper. Further, although general legal issues are discussed, this paper is intended to discuss Japanese law issues only, and foreign laws are not discussed. Therefore, this paper mostly cites Japanese language papers published in domestic journals.

Practical implications

The intended practical implication of this paper is to allow central and local governments to determine – based on the proposed categories – whether green AI can be used for city planning purposes and under which conditions. The authors hope that this will assist the Japanese government in establishing rules on the usage of AI by governmental agencies and allow for the greater actual usage by Japanese central and local governments of green AI in future city planning.

Social implications

As the theme of this paper deals with governmental use (and the function of a government is to serve society), the social implications at issue can be said to be equivalent to the practical implication.

Originality/value

There have been articles discussing Japanese administrative law restrictions on AI in general. However, as of now, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, there have been no articles published focusing on green AI used for city planning. The authors note that the green AI used for city planning would have different legal implications from AI’s usage by the government in general, such as the chatbot used by the agencies or lethal autonomous weapons by the military force. Therefore, this paper is original in focusing on green AI used for city planning.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper forms part of a special section “Green Artificial Intelligence: Regulatory Road to Sustainable AI”, guest edited by Hiroshi Ishiguro, Koichi Nagashima, Fumio Shimpo and Maciej M. Sokolowski.

Mr Tomomi Nishimura (Osaka University) has provided advice on AI and Mr Peter Tyksinski (Momo-o, Matsuo & Namba) and Ms Du Xuewen (Waseda University) have reviewed and revised this paper. The authors thank all of them. Finally, author would like to say thank you to the guest editors, Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro, Prof. Fumio Shimpo, Dr Maciej Sokolovski, and Dr Koichi Nagashima.

Citation

Matsuo, T. and Iwamitsu, S. (2022), "Sustainable city planning and public administration assisted by green AI: attendant legal challenges under Japanese law", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 334-346. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-06-2021-0109

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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