Things that can be done with the Internet

 NPO CANVAS and Google opened a web site that gathers nice stories involving children and the internet. Young people from Japan, the U.S., England, Germany, China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan all took part.

 We wanted to concentrate on activities that promoted creativity and expressiveness. One result was the creation of this site. For more details please see the site, but Id like to present some examples here.
Ayane Naoi (17)
 Naoi studied at Renaissance Academy high school via the internet. She didnt physically attend school.
 With the exception of five days, all of her schooling was conducted over the internet. All students receive a smart phone or tablet. Naoi was challenged by simultaneously taking classes and living life as an entertainer.
 Because I could study at any time and at any place, I could find time to do both my classwork and study as a comedian.
I think that it would be nice to have more places like this. Even at full-time schools, having the ability to do homework or personal study using the Internet would be helpful and should be introduced at more places.

Yusuke Mamiya (11)
 Mamiya studies stop-frame animation over the internet. He studies the techniques used in stop-frame animations that have been uploaded to YouTube, learns the techniques through trial-and-error, and creates original works.
 His stop-frame animations receive rave reviews at exhibitions put on for students and teachers. Mamiya says that he is Never happier than when his work is praised! and he has gained much self-confidence.

Hiromu Yakura (16)
 Android security expert Yakura began to love the internet when he entered the PC room at junior high school when he was 13. Because of his expertise he is asked to speak at universities and technical institutes throughout Japan.
 Instead of trying to do everything on your own, please request assistance using email, Facebook, Twitter and other such tools. Everyone is working together and there are people from around the world who are willing to lend a hand. Source code is an international language.



Let’s tend to the computerization of education

  I gave the following presentation at a diet meeting on the computerization of education.

 Some say that the computerization of education will cost money. I say lets spend it. According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Japan is in the lowest rank when it comes to education spending as a percentage of GDP. We arent spending enough. If we spend 10,000 yen on totally 10,000,000 children then the cost will be 100 billion yen. That represents 1/100th of the road budget. Its a small price to pay for such an important future asset. Its something that only the politics can decide.

 In the 21st century, it is recognized by the OECD, the EU, and Japans Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology that the ability to operate digital technology is extremely important. Its past the point of debate. Its time to act. Its time for the government to decide and to act.

 It is only Japan that continues to debate the merits and demerits of computerization. Korea is introducing digital textbooks to all elementary school students. They have decided to take a cloud approach in which any kind of terminal will do. Classes, homework, and guardian communication takes place over social media. There has been almost no movement in Japan. They are three steps ahead.

 There are large political and systemic hurdles to the implementation of digital textbooks in Japan. In Japan, elementary and middle school books are given out freely. However, legally speaking this only applies to paper books, so the problem is that digital textbooks are not covered.  The governments IP plan proposes that measures be taken to fix this, but this is still in the early planning stage.

 We are now putting out energy into three points. 1) Selecting 100 of the best teachers and offering to support them. 2) Announcing 100 candidates for mayoral and gubernatorial elections. 3) Offering a service menu of 10,000 yen per person per year to municipalities.

 We are doing what we can do as citizens to promote this.

 We ask three things of political leaders: 1) Expanded budgets, 2) Develop legal systems, and 3) Recognize the importance of the computerization of education. Whether or not this succeeds is up to the politicians. I strongly hope that you proceed enthusiastically.


The troublesome era of mixed media

4K TVs are selling.
They have four times as many pixels as high-vision sets. In other words, I think that they look four times as good. I thought that terrestrial digital broadcasts already look perfectly fine, but it seems that greed was not yet exhausted.

 We want prettier and larger screens. One of our walls has become a place for a large TV. They are selling even though 4K digital broadcasts are still in the future. So what shall we view on them? Videos from the net. Its more of a large PC than a television.

  In the US its already normal to watch shows over the internet on a TV. With the advent of 4K Japan will start to do so as well.

Whats more, 8K TVs are already on the market that are 16 times as attractive as high-vision. The size can be even larger than the wall of a house. Rather than in a house, it might be best for large groups to enjoy them on a wide street. Its more of a movie experience than a TV experience.

However, recently screens have also been getting smaller.
In the past, the father was the champion of the household, but in recent years his position has slipped and the mother and children are the ones who control the TV remote. Fathers watch TV programs on their mobile devices. They can even watch while in the toilet or under the blankets.

Young high school girls refer to their tablets as big screens. So it seems that the point of reference has become the smartphone screen. In this world, a 50 inch TV screen is gigantic.

It has become meaningless to discern between different types of screens such as mobile, smartphone, PC, TV or movie. All of them connect to the internet. Everything is simultaneously a computer and a TV.

 Even without pointing it out, the audience is aware of this.
 While viewing a TV program, one can do a search on a PC and tweet something on social media using a smartphone. With many screen open at one time, broadcast and correspondence become confused, and communication is devoured. This all comes naturally to my son.

 Its quite a situation.
 TV companies are broadcasting TV programs over the airwaves. Net companies are using communication lines to send web sites to users. Communication companies are sending information to mobiles wirelessly. However, the end user receives all of these at the same time, and can enjoy editing them.

 It has become a troubling era of mixed media.


Raising international manga artists

 A foreign manga festival was held at the Tokyo Big Site. I was employed as a consultant.
  There was a panel on international manga education. The theme was raising international manga artists. Ill summarize what I said in the beginning:
  Japan is a manga paradise. Manga represent 64% of all published materials and 20% of all book sales. In Germany this figure is 1.6% and in France its 0.4%, so 20% is quite an outlier. Most of the anime that have become popular overseas have manga at their base. Manga are at the center of Japanese culture, and serve as a breeder reactor. 
  The term Cool Japan was born ten years ago. The phrase wasnt born in Japan; it started overseas and was adopted by Japan. Japan is now asking herself how to recapture the manga. Domestically, manga havent been treated as important. Its become a societal problem that there isnt much education. However, when they started to become popular overseas the government finally recognized their importance and began to support them as artistic media. 
Ten years ago I was employed as the chairman of the IP headquarter in the government. That was when we started to concentrate on manga. I was also the chairman of the Pop Culture Committee. Manga writers were also on the committee and we debated measures of encouragement. On both committees, a major theme was the education of future manga artists. 
 It was then that the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture began to concentrate on the cultivation of human resources which led to the symposiums that we have today.
 At the same time, pop culture cannot be spearheaded by the government by way of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. It must be spearheaded by the citizens. We must always keep that in mind. On the other hand, it must be recognized that the comics of the US, the manga of Canada, the bande dessinnée of France, and our own manga are important cultural assets. The forms of expression found in manga are based upon the culture of their originating country, and its wonderful that they have evolved into such a deep and varied art form. Id like to see those involved in the world of manga cooperate to raise the level of manga culture in the world.


Discussing the Content Policy with Lawmakers

I was called to a content committee meeting with members of the diet to debate pop culture and Cool Japan. Here are the answers that I gave.

Q. How do you view the competitive power of Korea?

A. Koreas strategy is clear. Since the administration of Kim Dae-jung, 1) Their strategy fuses content and home electronics, software and hardware. 2) Their strategy concentrates on the international marketplace. 3) Their strategy involves intense government support.
Japan has a lot to learn from their strategy.

Q. What should we do to enter foreign markets?

A. The government should concentrate on distribution. Japanese industry has not yet fully realized how to use the net. Also, Japan has very few broadcasting slots overseas. In the U.S., there are tens of channels in Chinese, 13 channels in Korean, but only one channel in Japanese.

Q. What is causing this problem?

A. I could offer copyright laws and piracy concerns as the issue. However, I believe that the biggest factor is lack of will. Companies that have eaten up the domestic market lack incentive to go for the international market. However, I believe that this situation has come to an end.

Q. Does the government need to be involved or should it be left to economics and culture?

A. Professor Joseph Nye has an international political theory of Soft Power. Content policy, even more than industrial policy, should be valued as a cultural and political policy as well. The government should be involved because content policy has more to do with culture than with industry, and is more about international relations than just domestic policy.

Q. Do you have any hints?

A. I hope that we will take advantage of the Tokyo Olympics. Its an opportunity to distribute content overseas, improve the domestic infrastructure, and promote the expansion of content.

Q. Any other aspects of Japanese culture?

A. If you ask foreigners living in Japan what they would like to bring back to their own countries, they teach you many surprising things. For example, many people value our education system in which elementary students take turns on lunch duty serving their classmates. Also, whereas many people are afraid of the police in their home countries, in Japan anyone can feel comfortable asking them for help. These are things that foreigners would like to spread in their countries. Im certain there are many more aspects of our culture that we are not yet aware of that can be presented to the world.

International Debate:What does the Net produce? (Part 2)

 These are the questions that I was asked regarding the influence that the internet would have on society at the Stanford Trans-Asian Dialogue.

Q. What about the influence on Japan, China and Korea?

A. In regards to the territorial disputes, the net can serve to add fuel to the fire and to act as a breeder reactor for patriots. On the other hand, fans of Japanese anime, manga and games also increase in China and Korea as a result of the internet.
 When the Senkaku dispute was flaring up I spoke to students in the doctoral program at Peking University and asked them about the Japanese people whom they were aware of. Number three was Hayao Miyazaki, number two was Doraemon, and number one was Sora Aoi. Im not entirely sure that number two is Japanese, but regardless, its a problem that none of them mentioned a politician, businessperson, or scholar. This problem isnt unique to the Net.

Q. What do you think of the problem of digital pollution?

A. Digital signage takes up space. The use of public space in Japan is more strictly limited than in China or Korea, but private space like on taxis or department stores is not regulated. It might be possible to regulate the amount of visible media in the future, but as it becomes more ubiquitous it also becomes less effective. It might be best to leave the matter to market forces. This will also be a problem for consumer literacy.

Q. Will there be another large international problem?

A. In terms of copyright, the protection of children, and privacy, the conflict will not be one of countries. It will be a conflict between nations and global corporations. Japan has no influence over corporations like Google and Apple. They may have to think of new schemes to gain influence, or implement access limitations after the Chinese model.

Q. Will the relationship between newspapers and the Net change?

A. I am already tired of hearing stories are how people are shocked to hear that young people dont read newspapers and dont have a TV. Even in my case, my media consumption has already changed. Ten years ago I would wake up and 1) Open the newspaper, 2) Turn on the TV, and 3) check the news on my PC. Now things have reversed. I 1) Check Facebook, 2) follow Twitter, 3) Look at web sites, 4) watch TV news, and 5) read the newspaper.

 In the past, things were in the order of reliability. Now they are prioritized by proximity, recency, and then reliability. Confirmation takes place slowly at the end of the process. All of the media have value to me. The problem doesnt necessarily lie in whether or not the medium is paper or not.