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SoftBank’s Japanese Pepper robot can perform Buddhist funeral rites


Pepper, a humanoid robot created by JDA Labs and Softbank, helps shoppers with customer service requests.

Krystina Gustafson | CNBC

Pepper, a humanoid robot created by JDA Labs and Softbank, helps shoppers with customer service requests.

With Japan’s population ageing and shrinking, many Buddhist priests receive less financial support from their communities, prompting some to find part-time work outside their temple duties, said Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive adviser.

The funeral robot could step in when a priest was not available, he said. It also cost less at 50,000 yen (about $450) per funeral compared to more than 240,000 yen ($2,200) for a human priest.

Buddhist priest Tetsugi Matsuo said he came to the expo to see if Pepper could “impart the ‘heart’ aspect to a machine because I believe that the ‘heart’ is the foundation of religion.”

The robot has not yet been hired for a funeral.

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