The ICT industry is the mainstay of the Japanese economy, with its technology acclaimed. However, it does not occupy a large share of the global market. In view of this reality, October last year saw the setup of a Panel on ICT International Competitiveness to draft basic strategies to make the ICT industry more internationally competitive. Subsequently, April this year witnessed a "final summing-up." In response to that summing-up, the MIC set up an ICT International Competitiveness Enhancement Program as a comprehensive political package in May this year. The ICPB will work to enhance international competitiveness by causing the industry, academia, and administration to join forces as if in one unit.
With the advancement of digitization and broadband use, advances are also being seen in the "fusion and collaboration of communications and broadcasting", as witnessed in the full-scale network distribution of video and audio content, the sharing of terminals and networks, and other developments. To ensure that diverse services are provided by taking optimal advantage of the world's most advanced information and communications infrastructure, thus allowing its users to enjoy the advantages of the technical innovation, the MIC is promoting reforms in communications and broadcasting according to the "Process Program concerning Reforms in Communications and Broadcasting" (September 2006).
As Japan is equipped with the world's most advanced broadband environment, expectations are growing for infocommunications technology as the trump card for addressing various social challenges such as the arrival of a society with a full-scale declining birthrate and aging population.
Based on that understanding, the MIC has set up the "u-Japan Policy" and is making various efforts to realize by 2010 a society with ubiquitous networking where "anyone" can access the network "any time, anywhere, with whatever."
[Promoting regional informatization]
In the networked society with ubiquitous computing, the ICT should be made sufficiently accessible and utilized in all regions throughout Japan. The MIC is working: (1) to promote the spread of "Local Government ICT Platform," (2) to spread a new set of public applications for the public network connecting local and national governments, and (3) to promote establishment and dissemination of various regional models designed to address the region's respective challenges by utilizing ICT through regionally commissioned project. In so doing, the MIC is working to establish ubiquitous networking.
[Promoting content distribution]
With digitized broadcasting, broadband communications, more highly functional mobile telephony, and other developments that expand the distribution routes, the content market is facing a new phase. In an attempt to expand the content market by about 5 trillion yen by 2016, the MIC is considering how content should be used and what rules should be applied for distribution, promoting the distribution of video content through the IP network, considering ways to make the content industry more internationally competitive, and promoting various other measures to expand the market.
[Promoting the development of advanced ICT human resources]
Corporations lack human resources with advanced knowledge and skills in ICT. They are short, above all, of ICT human resources able to add high value to products by using ICT. The MIC is therefore promoting the training of advanced ICT human resources, by means such as developing practical teaching materials with which they learn the techniques and skills to address challenges through support and projects designed for human resources training.
[Promoting information security measures]
As social and economic activities become increasingly dependent on ICT networks, the ICPB is comprehensively promoting measures for information security in order to realize safe and secure ICT environments for users: (1) eliminating computer viruses, unauthorized access and other malicious operations, (2) educating users by providing common knowledge and raising awareness, (3) conducting research and development to establish fundamental technologies, (4) strengthening international cooperation between related organizations, (5) taking other measures for information security.
Broadcast digitization is underway in various countries as something that can enhance the image quality and functionality of broadcast media linked closely to civic life. Following CS broadcasting, CATV, and BS broadcasting, a new set of efforts are underway to arrange terrestrial broadcasting, which is the most familiar key medium. In other words, the big three wide-range zones of Kanto, Chukyo, and Kinki launched digital broadcasting in December 2003. Subsequently, December 2006 saw this broadcasting launched in all prefectures. On July 24, 2011, a complete shift is scheduled to digital broadcasting. To facilitate this, efforts are being made to disseminate and advertise the advantages of digital broadcasting, the final date of analog broadcasting and to promote the buildup of terrestrial digital broadcasting facilities.
The "One-Seg," launched in April 2006, allows users to view TV images of high definition on personal digital assistants and similar equipment any time, anywhere.
Also underway are such efforts as technical development aiming to advance CATV, develop, spread, and promote satellite digital broadcasting, and advance broadcasting systems in general.
Aiming to "increase international competitiveness" in the digitized society where technical innovation progresses quickly, "establish a safe and secure society", where there is no anxiety over food, medicine, or other matters, and "produce intellectual vigor" through human-friendly communication technology, the MIC has set up a "UNS Strategy Program" and is promoting research and development in ICT. More specifically, these efforts include ultra-fast photonic network technology and other next-generation network foundation technologies, platform technologies for ubiquitous network services, technology for network robots, and space communications technology. Moreover, to support original research and development efforts, the Strategic Communication Planning & Evaluation (in Population Software Notes) (SCOPE) is implemented to invite a wide range of researchers to propose their research and development projects. Moreover, the Advanced Testbed Network for R&D and an Open Laboratory session are made open to a wide range of the public, thereby supporting research and development through the collaboration of industry, academia, and administration.
Among other projects underway are the setup of international standards through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) while stressing the need to collaborate with the rest of Asia in order to spread Japan's research and development findings more widely throughout the international community.