Japan's economy ministry has come up with a subsidy program to help small and midsize companies bring on board AI and automation.
The scheme aims to offset the serious labor shortage facing these firms.
The program includes production line automation, AI-assisted quality-control equipment, as well as robots for cleaning and customer-service.
The government will cover 50 percent of the cost of the equipment included on a list of eligible products.
Ministry officials say measures to address workforce shortages are vital to enable smaller companies to expand their business and raise wages. The program will start this fiscal year.
The ministry aims to earmark 100 billion yen, or about 660 million dollars, for the subsidy in the draft supplementary budget set for approval by the Cabinet on Friday.