The MIC also works to promote the digitalization of television, with which we are familiar for acquiring information. Initiated in Japan's three major urban zones (Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka) in December 2003 and in all the prefectures in December 2006, digital broadcasting had radio coverage of 98% relative to the total number of households in December 2009. Digital broadcasting makes our lives even more convenient and worthwhile in terms not only of broadcast programs with high image and sound quality but also data broadcasting that allows people to obtain information on a real-time basis, OneSeg broadcasting based on mobile telephony, and other means (Fig. B). Moreover, digitization saves radio waves and allows people to use those waves in ITS and mobile telephony, and also in related applications that help people live more safely and reliably. Analog broadcasting - the prevalent form in the past - will be discontinued in July 2011. To build an information base that allows us to live conveniently in a safe and reliable society, the MIC is working on measures to migrate smoothly to digital broadcasting.
Concerning cable television, digitalization has deliberately and appropriately been promoted so that all cable television facilities can handle digitalization at the earliest possible time before terrestrial analog broadcasting is terminated.
Concerning satellite broadcasting, BS analog broadcasting (the same as terrestrial analog broadcasting) will terminate on July 24, 2011, followed by the launch of new BS digital broadcasting. To put those measures into practice smoothly, the GISB will disseminate and publicize information about the termination of analog broadcasting and related procedures toward the startup of digital broadcasting.
The use of ICT has become indispensable in various fields to address the challenges facing Japan, including an ongoing economic recession, the emergence of an aging society with few children unrivaled anywhere in the world, and global warming problems. Japan has the world's leading-edge ICT base and must use it effectively. The GISB is now working to promote the effective use of ICT in diverse fields.
[Local revitalization in terms of advanced use of ICT]
To reactivate the regions, it is important that ICT be sufficiently used in all the regions.
The MIC is promoting regional reactivation by enterprises in order to address regional challenges by promoting the introduction of effective and efficient ICT use through wide-ranging collaboration, considering and demonstrating administrative task system collaboration based on standard specifications that aim to increase inhabitant convenience and efficient administrative tasks, and dispatching advisors on how to expand the use of information technology in the regions.
[Promotion of content distribution]
The content industry is spotlighted here not only as a cultural aspect but also as an industry that supports economic growth.
In an attempt to expand the content market even further, the MIC is working on various measures designed to promote the production and distribution of content, such as considering how content should be used and what distribution-related rules should govern, promoting the manufacturing of regional content and its deployment abroad, and efforts to realize and spread IPTV service in diverse network environments (video distribution through the IP network).
[Promotion of "collaborative education" through ICT]
The Information and Communications Bureau is tackling on future school promotion project to promote educational reforms through ICT (toward realizing a collaborative education system).
[Development of advanced ICT human resources]
As personnel who can use ICT are in tight supply at enterprises and other associations, the Information and Communications Bureau is working to train advanced ICT users by such means as developing remote educational systems to train specialists in wide-ranging fields that need ICT technology.
[Promoting information security measures] (Fig. C)
As social and economic activities become increasingly dependent on information and communications networks, the Information and Communications Bureau is comprehensively promoting measures for information security including the elimination of computer viruses and unauthorized access, conducting research and development, developing human resources, and strengthening international cooperation between related organizations.
1) Drastic review of postal enterprises (postal reforms)
The MIC (Postal Services Policy Department) is working to consider concrete forms of management and other issues for making it possible to address the challenges identified after the recent privatization (such as "enabling the integral use of basic services of post, savings, and simple life insurance at post offices nationwide in a fair manner, and with user-oriented simple methods" and "use of the network of post offices as centers for one-stop administration for the community"), and contribute to securing people's lives and reactivating regional society, together with the Office for Postal Reform, Cabinet Secretariat of Japan, according to the "Basic Principles of Postal Reforms" approved at the Cabinet meeting on October 20, 2009.
2) Promotion of postal administration that supports citizens' lives
The following measures will be taken according to the postal reforms described above.
･ Work to ensure that privatized corporations observe the network standards and service standards of post offices necessary for citizens' lives.
･ Work to increase user convenience by such means as developing and enhancing the competitive environment in postal and correspondence delivery service, while securing a postal universal service.
･ Work to step up international collaboration in the field of postal administration by working to engage even further in international cooperation and international contribution through the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
The use of ICT in the educational field is expected to increase the interest, motivation, knowledge, and understanding among students.
For ten public elementary schools nationwide, the MIC builds an ICT network environment based on an education cloud as its core, provides the schools with digital textbooks (teaching materials) unitarily, and uses tablet PCs (with each student provided with a PC), interactive whiteboards (with one provided in each ordinary classroom), and other ICT equipment, thereby conducting "collaborative education" where children teach and learn from each other, in an attempt to promote the use of ICT in the educational field.