The current size of the broadcasting market is roughly four trillion yen, and has seen a diversification of media in terms of satellite and cable broadcasts, as well as the proliferation of numerous channels. As such, broadcasting has come to play an indispensable role in Japanese industry and the people's daily lives. The MIC has handled this expansion and development of broadcasting services from the administrative side by means of setting in place legislation and instituting budgetary measures.
As of the end of March 2012, television broadcasting had completely switched to digital, and progress has been made with enhancing the functionality of broadcasting services, such as images with high-definition image quality and the realization of data broadcasting. What is more, multimedia broadcasting for mobile devices that use the frequencies that were opened up following the end of terrestrial analog television broadcasting were initiated in April 2012. Through this an environment has been set in place where viewers can view television programs and other content with high-definition image quality even when they are away from home.
It is under this sort of environment that the MIC is partnering with broadcasters, telecommunications carriers, and home electronics manufacturers to promote initiatives like international standardization and demonstration trials related to further enhancing the functionality of these broadcasting services. In this, they aim to achieve "ultra-high-definition" (4K / 8K), which would make it possible to view images that have even higher resolution and image quality than those of current high-definition images, as well as "smart TV," which would interlink communications and broadcasting services to display additional information on the screen or transmit information related to the broadcast programs according to the user's preferences.
Moreover, Japan's broadcast content is ranked second in the world behind that of the United States in terms of its market scale and is highly appraised in other countries overseas, though the ratio exported overseas is low. The MIC is partnering with broadcasters, rights holders, and others to advance support when it comes to financial and institutional aspects for the overseas expansion of quality broadcast content, in the aim of creating a platform for expanding the scale at which Japanese products and services are deployed overseas. The MIC is also promoting initiatives conducive to strengthening broadcast networks, such as extending radio services to areas where such services have been unavailable, and disaster protection measures for broadcasting facilities, so as to be able to properly provide the public with disaster information and the like via broadcasts in the future, with this focused primarily around radio, which has been recognized as being particularly useful during earthquakes. In addition, in January 2014 it launched the Investigative Commission for Subtitles in the Age of Smart TV, which is moving forward with examinations of policies geared towards offering subtitles in multiple languages via smart TV and disseminating subtitled commercials.
The use and application of ICT (information communications technologies) is essential to respond to the various challenges facing Japan (decreasing birth-rate and ageing population, shortage of doctors, realization of cooperative education, stimulation of regional economies, etc.). Japan has the world's leading-edge ICT base and must use it effectively. The MIC is now working to promote the effective use of ICT in diverse fields.
Based on the importance of lateral coordination between information, which was brought to light during the Great East Japan Earthquake, the MIC has been promoting initiatives to realize an environment in which the data used solely within organizations and industry can be effectively put to use in society as well (an open data circulation environment).
The MIC is undertaking initiatives to make it easy to share EHR (Electric Health Record) among doctors, co-medicals and care workers around Japan, and to establish health-care (disease prevention) models through the use of ICT.
These initiatives are designed to contribute to resolving the challenges brought about by a super-aging society, such as the decline in the working-age population and the increase in medical expenses, while also achieving a "smart platinum society".
The MIC is carrying out empirical research through the use of cloud and other cutting-edge technologies to achieve an educational environment in which the pupils and students teach and learn from one another, and everyone is provided learning that is tailored to them.
The MIC is working to enhance facilities like Wi-Fi station to provide disaster prevention information and shared regional networks to ensure that information can be transmitted reliably and smoothly during disasters.
The MIC is promoting and supporting initiatives that use ICT infrastructure and systems that contribute to local revitalization. It is doing this by dispatching Regional computerization Advisors and ICT Regional Managers who have specific know-how when it comes to the use and application of ICT, as well as public relations and awareness-raising activities related to advanced case examples for the use of ICT.
The human resources capable of applying ICT in business are lacking. The MIC is promoting the cultivation of advanced ICT human resources, such as by developing curricula to develop human resources that can use and apply cutting-edge ICT.
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, improving human capabilities, and strengthening international collaboration between related organizations.
With respect to postal services, pursuant to the amended Postal Service Privatization Act (Act No. 97, 2005) that came into effect enacted in October 2012, the basic services of savings and insurance have been covered by the scope of universal services in addition to the conventional mail service. Based on this Act, the MIC (Postal Services Policy Department) is supervising Japan Post Group for increasing user convenience and improving management. This is designed to ensure that the universal services of the three branches of the Postal Service are operated evenly and fairly across the country, and that postal services fully exhibit regional characteristic and benefit the public through the use of its network of post offices.
In addition, it will also continue to promote the following initiatives to ensure that the public enjoy the achievements of the postal service privatization based on the aforementioned assumptions.
Smart Platinum Society refers to a super-aging society that has gone beyond "silver society", in which all generations can enjoy the benefits of innovations and remain active in an energetic manner.
Japan, which has reached the point of being a super-aging society ahead of the rest of the world, is faced with challenges relating to economic activities, social security systems, people's lives and local communities. It is difficult to resolve these challenges by conventional policy measures and there are mounting expectations for the "network power" of ICT, which enables us to communicate wherever and whenever, to serve as a dynamic force for resolving them and producing new value for society.
On account of such circumstances, the MIC held the "Council for designing ICT solutions for the super-aging society" in order to consider policies to promote the use of ICT to deal with the challenges brought about by the super-aging society and establish new social models. In May 2013, the Council compiled the report - "Achieving a Smart Platinum Society".
In succession to the Council, the "Conference for the promotion of Smart Platinum Society" has been held since December 2013.
In the Conference, topics such as solutions to practical challenges necessary for the establishment and deployment of successful models have been considered so that we can establish a Smart Platinum Society quickly and steadily.