Google relocates Japan head office to Shibuya

TOKYO • Google chief executive Sundar Pichai was in Tokyo yesterday to inaugurate the relocation of the company's Japanese head office to an expansive new complex in the trendy district of Shibuya.

As part of the new office facility, which takes up the majority of the 35-floor Shibuya Stream skyscraper, the company also opened its seventh Google for Startups Campus in the world - the second in Asia after Seoul. The initiative extends Google's efforts to combine education and training for start-ups with promotion for the use of its cloud and business services.

Mr Pichai said Google would run an accelerator programme in Japan that would focus on "established start-ups" working on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, both critical aspects of Google's current and future operations.

"Ultimately, we want to make sure the legacy of technology innovation extends far beyond 2020. This Google for Startups Campus is one part of that," he said.

AI has been topical in Japan, with SoftBank Group announcing plans to combine its Yahoo Japan Internet business with Naver's Line messaging service to create an AI tech leader capable of rivalling American juggernauts such as Google and Facebook.

On Monday, Palantir Technologies co-founder Peter Thiel visited Tokyo to introduce Palantir Technologies Japan, which will use AI to make sense of large volumes of unwieldy data in health and cyber security.

Google has said the move to Shibuya Stream will double its employee headcount in Japan to over 2,000. Its first office outside the US opened in Tokyo in 2001.

"At Google, we are deeply committed to fostering Japanese start-ups," Mr Pichai said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2019, with the headline 'Google relocates Japan head office to Shibuya'. Print Edition | Subscribe