RFID in Japan
In total, some 50 million RFID tags have been used so far in Japan, excluding car clickers. The majority of these are from Hitachi for ticketing at a huge expo next year, followed by contactless smart cards, and then library books and apparel. The biggest growing applications currently are those funded by the government, and include apparel, books, DVDs/CDs and logistics. However, as described above there have also been many innovative uses of RFID for niche yet still high return markets.
Companies are embracing the move to UHF which they hope will come next spring and many are testing UHF products now. After having visiting the Tokyo Auto-ID expo for the past two years, this year there were far more companies with RFID products than before. Foreign companies based in the US and Europe such as Impinj, Alien, Intermec and Matrics were also present through their subsidiaries. Although no-one here is expecting a Wal-Mart like mandate for RFID in Japan, applications in retail will come about due to the high volume of small retail stores and the need to manage stocks, prevent food being expired and so on across them.
The co-operation between companies has seen through many successful RFID projects which lead to interest from other potential users and reduce their concerns about adopting a new technology. While some argue that the five cent tag is still uncertain over the next 6 years, the Japanese have formed a collaboration to help get there.