SoftBank Group Corp founder Masayoshi Son said that there is a dearth of funding opportunities in Japan, which he mentioned is delaying in the race to develop artificial intelligence (AI).

Whereas SoftBank’s $100 billion Saudi-backed Vision Fund has poured tens of billions of dollars into bets on late-stage tech startups around the globe, it has overlooked Japan in favor of nations comparable to the US, China, and India.

Son requested the assembled company attendees in Tokyo to boost their hands if their firms have employed 1,000 AI engineers, with none doing so.

With a restricted pool of IT engineers in Japan, significantly when English language skills are required, tech corporations investing in AI like SoftBank rival Rakuten Inc and flea market app operator Mercari Inc have been looking overseas with India a recruitment focus.

Rakuten, which can start cell providers in October – placing it in direct competitors with SoftBank’s domestic telco, SoftBank Corp – plans to double the variety of IT engineers in Bengaluru over the subsequent year from 550 at the moment.

Innovation in AI has become how Son defines the Vision Fund’s investment theory, whose bets on 82 firms span sectors together with ride-hailing, fintech, and healthcare.

Underscoring the distinction with his country, the place technology innovation stays dominated by long-established companies; Son introduced on stage self-made entrepreneurs from SoftBank portfolio firms.

Speakers included Ritesh Agarwal, the 25-year-old founder of Indian hotel chain OYO, and Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founding father of payment app Paytm parent One97 Communications.

Many of those corporations are increasing past their official remits, with Paytm, which has proliferated by providing QR code payments, transferring into insurance and credit, and Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Seize providing funds and food delivery.

While SoftBank has served as a gateway into Japan for a few of its portfolio firms, its ability to assist drive synergies between them is but to be demonstrated, with this week’s conference bringing some of the founders collectively in Tokyo.