Brilliant students from Peking University viewing Japan

 I visited Peking University at a time when the political issue concerning Senkaku Islands was smoldering. I was asked to conduct three series lectures about media policies in Japan. The target audience was made up of 20 PhD students. Here are their questions and my quick answers. 

・What are methods to make the government release information to the public? 
  Institutions regulating the government, such as the Freedom of Information Act are basic methods that give the right to claim to the public. However, due to the movement of open data in recent years, there are also methods to urge for the government and local bodies to work with the private sector. It is a sunshine policy that can encourage the government and bureaucracy, while also giving due credit to departments that have shown good results. I think this is more effective in the case for Japan. 

・Will the privatization and restructuring of NTT spread to other industries?
  The privatization of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation and Japan National Railways has been carried due to other cases such as in the case of the postal industry, where privatization has encouraged and spurred greater competition. However, it is important to note that the applicability varies depending on the competitive environment and technological progress. Although improvement of the competitive environment for the power industry has become an issue today, triggered by the nuclear issue, it does not mean that the same analogy can be applied here as well. 

・Will automatic translation technology improve the presence of China? 
  According to a research conducted by Technorati in 2007, blogs around the world are in the following languages: 37% Japanese, 36% English, 8% Chinese. The reason why Japan was number one in the world is due to information being readily shared by youngsters using mobile phones. This time, as I was walking in Beijing, I realized that many people are using smartphones. By estimates today, more people are going to use the Chinese language in the future, right? Also, information in Chinese can be automatically translated into different languages and be circulated around. Hence, presence of China will definitely be raised. 

・What role do universities play in fostering new industries?
  Japan has not been able to achieve results like the United States, where universities like Stanford, Harvard and MIT have created platforms from numerous IT companies and services. We require not only traditional education and research, but also social and economic platforms which can function as a breeder reactor for industries of the next generation. I hope Peking University can also work with us to create something new. 

・What about the strengthening of copyright protection that is robbing Japanese of learning opportunities? 
  I know that some of you are learning using free content like anime. In Japan, however, we have more constraints. But from our perspective, the protection laws in China are too weak. There are also many problems if you look at the perspective from right holders in Japan. As the amount of content flowing across national boundaries is increasing at an exponential pace, international coordination is now an important issue. We hope all of you can think as a leader too. 

  I am sure there will be more political issues that will shake our countries’ relations in the future. What can we, as academicians achieve in such circumstances?  I would like to discuss this with everyone again in the future. 


At an Elementary School in Nepal

Situated at an elevation of 1330m, a city with 5 million people. The capital of Nepal,Kathmandu.

It is a town where there are more gods than people. Overwhelming Islam, 80% of the people belong to Hinduism, a religion which flowed from India. Across the Himalayas, Buddhism from Tibet constitutes a 10%. Indigenous faiths are also mixed together, forming a very unique Newar culture. 36 different communities reside together. 

The GDP per capita, at $650, is smaller than Tottori Prefecture and the country is considered to be one of the Least Developed Countries. Power outages happen often. The country functions like an old Switzerland, specializing in a mercenary industry which sends troops to overseas regularly. It is surrounded by great powers and hold mountain ranges which seem to serve as the roof of the world.
  However, a hot air is surging. The vulgar hustle and bustle of this city which I love so much is similar to Hanoi, Istanbul, Xian and Casablanca. As the population is bigger even when compared to Osaka, I can always feel a rush of energy gushing from this city. 

  I visited a public school called Shree Rudrayanee Secondary School. Spectacular rice terraces appeared in front of my eyes, where mothers can be seen picking the harvests. At the other side, the white continuous summits of the Himalaya Mountain can be seen. Walking through the village and the gates where 260 kids aged 4 to 16 are greeting me enthusiastically, I began to realize that the building looked like it was going to collapse and it had poor facilities. 

However, the children were all dressed in fine English-style uniforms, with striped neckties and black leather shoes. They all spoke in English. It seems that public schools in Nepal are like this. 
They looked straight into my eyes without worries. They looked at me using the computer as if they had never seen anything like that before. Thank you everyone for playing together with me. Thank you for the 2 year-old Sanjey who ate my business cards. Let us meet again somewhere, sometime.


The re-union of Internet and TV

 The Internet & TV, broadcasting & communications. The linkage process has begun in full. The IT and electronics exhibition, ‘CREATEC’, was in a single ‘Smart’ color. Various types of smart televisions can be seen there. Digital broadcasting has not only become more beautiful but also smarter. The combination of television and internet, together with television and smartphone has led to a more interesting and convenient lifestyle. This is no longer at a proposal stage, but a realistic service that is being offered today. 
 Not only smart televisions, there are also smart appliances, smart houses, smart city and others. Information-related industries like communication and makers are apparently exploring new strategies under the name of ‘smart’. 
 Manufacturers of consumer electronics are exhibiting TV with Internet support. Unlike Samsung’s Smart TV or Google TV where you can enjoy content from the Internet on the TV screen, new multi-screen linkage models like TV & smartphone or TV & tablet were exhibited. In addition, smart houses which include home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines were proposed, and a smart city concept which is linked to electric power supply was also advocated. 

Similar to CEATEC, in the broadcast exhibition ‘InterBEE’ which is held in Makuhari every year, IPDC forum that I serve as the representative manned a booth there. As the main leader in the broadcast station, a concrete image of the multi-screen control technology was shown. In particular, the result of “Multiscreen Broadcasting Committee” which was established and centred on broadcast stations in Osaka was show cased. 

IPDC is a mechanism in which double screens like televisions, smartphones and tablets can be covered with a single radio broadcast wave. This is a method whereby broadcasting stations are able to control everything. That is why broadcasting stations are paying more interest in this compared to the Internet world. 

The challenge that we will be facing from now on is mass production of the corresponding receiver. In order to achieve this, it is important that the Japanese digital broadcasting system work together with countries that have adopted ISDB-T, such as Brazil and South America. International interactions have suddenly become an important issue. I am currently promoting international cooperation strategies with the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. 

  The convergence of communications and broadcasting have been discussed for 20 years. I feel that a concrete image has come into view at last, with digital broadcasting done and smartphones and tablets appearing.  


I will do my best for open data.

 I want to expand the possibilities for big data. I want to make big data safe and convenient for the society. I want to stimulate the economy with big data. 
  This can be achieved through open data, a movement where governments and local governments, for a start, can start publishing public data for private sector use to give rise to a new information service. 
  I am currently participating as a Director in the “Open Data Distribution Promotion Consortium”. Different ministers who are not in good relationships such as the Cabinet, General Affairs, Education & Science, Labor & Welfare, Agriculture & Fisheries, Economics & Industry, Foreign Affairs and Finance are coming together around a single table to discuss about future public policies. 

  In this Consortium attended by the different ministries, leaders of local governments, corporations and research institutes, I will act as the chairperson for utilization and dissemination, promoting development examples and information dissemination. The committee is open and is replayed through the Internet. 
  Although open data has started to get more attention, it still remains to be too technical. Considerable dissemination efforts are hence still necessary for the entire nation to regard it as an important issue to be tackled. It is important to gather successful cases and share them with everyone. 

As such, there are three points which the Consortium should seek to accomplish. 
  The first is to create a business model. The only incentive for information provision and sharing right now is to reply on good faith. I want to create a ways for companies to be profitable. 
  Next, I want to reduce the negative points. This can be done by fostering a sense of security. As data becomes more and more open, there will be increasing anxieties and sense of resistance. I would like to disseminate information with privacy protection properly done. 
 Thirdly, I want to continue the collaboration between the industry, academia and government. I hope the government will not only release data but also funds. I hope it can play a role in the rise of private sector by offering capital funds. This does not mean industry support policies, but rather industry development policies and infrastructure development measures.