The city of Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture has a few claims to fame: It’s home to a major U.S. naval base, it’s the birthplace of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and it lends its name to a local variation of Japanese curry.
On Thursday, it staked out a new claim as the first municipality in the country to use ChatGPT in its municipal offices.
Roughly 4,000 employees at Yokosuka’s municipal government office began using the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, which was created by OpenAI late last year, for a one-month trial in efforts to improve operations.
“With the population decreasing, the number of employees is limited. However, there are many administrative challenges,” said Takayuki Samukawa, a public relations representative for Yokosuka’s digital management department.
“So we aim to use useful ICT tools, like ChatGPT, to free up human resources for things that can only be done in a person-to-person format.”
The move comes in the wake of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s visit to Japan, which included a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier this month, during what was his first overseas trip since the chatbot’s launch. Altman also announced that OpenAI would aim to open an office in Japan in the near future.
In light of the visit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that, after first addressing security concerns, the government would work to “use AI to reduce the workloads of national public servants.” Matsuno’s statement came just days after digital minister Taro Kono also spoke of AI’s potential use for government administrative tasks.