Microsoft Corp.'s Japan unit is launching a more secure version of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT that can handle classified information of government ministries and agencies as well as corporate entities.

Unlike the current ChatGPT, the new version of the generative artificial intelligence service will be considered suitable for the Japanese government to use as all information will be processed in data centers in Japan. Banks and other companies that handle sensitive data are also expected to benefit.

Japan will be the third region in which Microsoft has launched the service after the United States and Europe.

The move comes at a time when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is trying to tap AI as a growth driver for Japan, hoping it will help the nation escape decades of economic stagnation. Kishida vowed in June to make the best use of it to accelerate his "new capitalism" policy.

The government is considering using ChatGPT -- which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer -- to reduce officials' heavy workload, including preparing for questions in Diet sessions and taking minutes of meetings.

Microsoft, which revealed the plan for the new service at a meeting held at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's headquarters in Tokyo in late July, has guaranteed confidential information will be siloed in Japan and not able to be accessed overseas.

Some party members who attended the meeting welcomed the move, saying that their concerns over the handling of highly confidential data were somewhat eased. They also said they hope to see this technology be put to use in various industries such as finance, defense and the medical sector.

Microsoft's step is "important in terms of utilizing AI in Japan," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, adding the government will keep considering whether it will adopt the service based on the needs of each government agency.

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