The founding of the Japan Social Game Association

 In November of 2011, the Japan Social Game Association(JASGA) was established.
 The market for social games is expanding at a very rapid pace. However, this has brought on a situation in which problems stemming from the usage of such games among the youth, as well as various anxieties and social problems are making themselves known. Due to this, we have started efforts to improve the situation through self-regulation. I am serving as the General Manager.
 The three points we would like to emphasize in our efforts going forward are as follows, 1. Self-regulation of social games,  2. Educational outreach for youth,  and  3. Efforts to improve the quality of customer service.

 In the past, I didn’t have as strong of a connection to private industry as I do now, but I had the same misgivings about industry’s efforts at developing a youth policy as I did for the governments’. As per usual, the consumer bureau moved according to regulation. Though on the other hand it did move to answer the legislature’s questions for it.  
 I also had the chance to speak with someone in the government. Both the sides said that they wanted to encourage self-regulation and keep government intervention to a minimum. 

 A debate was started about whether or not an industry group should be created and I joined in as well. Various rules were passed and the organization was incorporated as an industry group, eventually culminating in the creation of an independent council of directors. This allows us to act as an industry representative, taking responsibility and dealing with problems out front in plain view, while at the same time providing a neutral platform for developing strategies to counter them.
 There’s a lot to do. And no guarantee it will go smoothly. But taking action is what’s important. In addition, I want to embark on an exercise that will help industry achieve large growth. In the 1980s and 90s, both Nintendo and Sega, seeking a mutually beneficial relationship between commerce and society, engaged in efforts toward this end, including donating large grants to MIT towards international research on games which could improve children’s futures. The social gaming industry is already taking on such responsibility as well.
 Social games improve communication ability. They bring forth rich communities. This organization has been established in the hope that even more such new cultures and new industries will be brought into being.     


Moving towards loosening regulation

 Bureaucracy is a single word, but it is colored by a variety of different government offices. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) is the final authority in weighing the pros and cons and determining the budget for every other government office. It smilingly bends its ears to petitioners and ruthlessly collects head. METI is a band of hunters, opening new divisions lacking in any authority. They are a prosperous people with eternal venture spirit. 
 I originally hail from the MIC, myself. The MIC managed the postal system, as well. Salesmen bowing their heads as they hawk ten yen stamps. Legwork is more important than brainwork. Wandering to and fro across the land with a lumbering walk. It did wonders for my complexion.  
 I worked exclusively managing communication policy. Making data transmission freer, negotiations concerning the US, internet policy. I was doing nothing but deregulation. You would think that Japan’s bureaucracy would be aware of the fact that it needed to let go of some regulation, but this was not the case.
 Japan’s policy on telecommunication underwent a progression of deregulation in the 90s, until ours was the least regulated system in the world. This had less to do with the national interest than it did with bringing publicity and recognition to the system itself. 
 By letting go of authority, they were able to stimulate the private sector and were supported by both media and industry. This in turn ensured high evaluations for the people in charge and offered benefits in terms of human resources as well. In the end, such motivations became the driving force behind deregulation. 
 I was one of the people in charge of implementing deregulation, but certain divisions within the office were pursuing the policy with such abandon that one wanted to tell them, “Enough already!” and that they have to stop. 

 This is a point often misunderstood, but, because deregulation if fundamentally the elimination of rights already held, from a logistical standpoint it tends, in many cases, to result in a large workload than strengthening regulations does.
 After taking the decisive step towards deregulation, things would go forward as long as the people in charge were poised to gain a boost to their reputations. Conversely, even if the office fell under criticism, the only result would be pulling away from the public eye. We need a reliable mechanism to evaluate the offices responsible for the work.


Anti-flaming strategy from the New Media Risk Association

  With the rapid spread of social media and the evolution of devices such as smartphones, the risk of using the net has leapt upward precipitously. The frequency of flaming incidents is said to triple yearly. In addition to the fact that a message only needs an instant to spread across social networks, smartphones give anyone the power to easily contribute photos. These trends are poised to accelerate in the future. 
 And employee snaps a pic of a celebrity visiting their store, and the business’ site is flamed. A company president makes a reckless comment on twitter and the corporate site is flamed. Criticism of a television station spills over until even the sponsors are drawing fire. A staff member’s astroturfing email is discovered on social media, and becomes a problem. The various incidents of flaming and information leakage follow many different patterns. It isn’t only that a company might draw criticism for something that happened there, but that it may find itself negatively impacted by the offhand remarks of an employee, and even individuals who’ve done nothing wrong may find themselves taking a lot of heat. 
 Baseless rumor can spread across the internet in an instant, developing into a large problem. For businesses, this is a life-or-death problem that can threaten their very existence. Universities, too have seen their brand fall due to comments by students. In a technological or organizational sense, it is possible to conceive of responses to the issue, but this alone cannot be relied upon. We must cultivate within individuals and organizations the strength to respond to such problems on their own.

 Just as high school girls a decade ago were already tapping out text with only their thumb, Japan is the world leader in the number of internet users, with young and old alike sending and receiving information. A study revealed that among the worlds’ blogs, Japanese was the most often used language. 
 Thus the tendency of problems to arise. Japan is the world leader in flaming, its network users also leading the world in the more problematic aspects of the internet.
 It goes without saying that social media sites can bring large socio-economic benefits. In order to ensure that we reap the greatest reward possible it is important that individuals share information and work towards polishing a strategy against risks such as flame attacks. 
 To that end, the New Media Risk Association (NRA) was established in 2012. I am acting president. The NRA’s roster includes everything from businesses and local government bodies to universities, and in addition to sharing plans for prevention and damage control, we offer certifications in response techniques.
 Going forward, we’d like to build an active and safe information society. 


The shock of seeing Korean Education go Digital

  Digital textbooks. The government has put forth the goal of creating a “one person, one device” learning environment by the year 2020, and MIC and MEXT are cooperating on administering a pilot program in 20 elementary schools. Even so, Korea has done much better. Plans surrounding the implementation of digital textbooks are five years ahead of Japanese efforts, and the learning environment is built around the assumption that its students are digital natives. 
 The background to all of this goes back to 1997, when Korea, treading close to a dangerous run in with the IMF, developed the will, in both public and private sectors, to find their way forward through education and technology. They have certainly made good on concentrating resources in these two areas. Korea is ranked first among OECD countries in technological literacy (Japan is ranked fourth). Utilization of technology dominates teacher evaluations, and they are passionate about developing educational materials. 

 If you walk the grounds of a Korean school, you will be met by the sight of teachers and students using tablets and smartphones to the full range of their capabilities, integrating them in the classroom without instruction or training, and all of it a common, everyday occurrence. Currently they are migrating from a system based on use of PCs, to a mobile system that is based on tablets. Rather than just noting their progress, we need to pay some attention to the ways in which the Korean approach differs from the Japanese approach.
 The Korean approach privileges content. Digital textbooks, which is to say, apps and content are arranged in the cloud such that they can be accessed without regard to which device is being used. It is a very different image than the “one person, one device,” hardware-focused plan being embraced by Japan. 
 They plan to make all apps and content accessible by any device by the year 2015. As cloud-based content races ahead, a plan which is designed to work with any device is far outpacing Japan, still weighing the pros and cons of introducing PCs into the classroom.

 Even more surprising is the fact that Social Networking Services (SNS) are being introduced in to the school environment. At the public school I visited, students used Korea’s official school SNS, “CLASSTING,” to post pictures, and share summaries and their thoughts on classes using Evernote and Google Docs. Teachers communicate with students and their households over not only CLASSTING, but using Facebook and twitter as well. In addition to students being able to access practice and review at home using the computer, their parents are able to check the contents of lessons in real time. 
 The example of Korea, with its two features, a system built around the axis of social media services, and open connection with student’s households, parents, and guardians, it’s probably safe to say, is the newest release. The future is here.