e-Japan Priority Policy Program Index

V. Digitization of the Administration and Utilization of IT in Other Public Areas

1. As for digitization of the administration, reforms of administrative work with priority for introduction of electronic delivery of administrative information, electronic filing (application and notification procedures), electronic documents (elimination of paper-based documents) and information sharing/use through information networks will be promoted. Thus, the administration where electronic information is handled in the same way as information on paperwork will be realized by FY2003.

2. A new society will be realized where the Japanese can broadly enjoy the benefits of IT, through diversification and improved quality of services available in public areas through the use of IT.

1. Current Status and Tasks

1) Digitization of the administration is designed to raise convenience of the people, simplify the administration, and improve efficiency and transparency of it, through the use of IT in every field of the administration and review of existing systems and practices.

Also, amidst the ongoing progress of digitization and networking in socioeconomic activities, if the public sector is to continue their administrative work as in the past on a paperwork basis, it will bring about obstacles to those various efforts in the private sector in many stages, and to make matters worse, it would hinder the formation of an advanced information and telecommunications network society.

Over the years, the central government has comprehensively promoted digitization of the administration in a well-planned manner, which includes provision of a PC to each staff member requiring it for their work, connection of all the office and ministries to the Kasumigaseki WAN and establishment of websites.

While the construction of an information and telecommunications infrastructure, including deployment of PCs and LAN/WAN, has been steadily implemented; however, i) an effort to reform internal administrative work to paperless has just begun, and ii) a move to employ electronic filing (online procedures for application and notification) -- one of the important challenges upon introducing IT between the government and the people, companies and others - has been at an initial stage, except for a very limited number of procedures associated with import/export and patents. These are both urgent tasks to be implemented and realized by FY2003.

Consequently, from now on, it is essential that digitization of administrative work and projects shall be the mainstream by making the use of electronic information a principle. In particular, upon introducing electronic filing (online procedures) between the government and private businesses/ consumers, the government should not just make the existing administrative work online, but must reform administrative operations, integrate similar work and projects across the office and ministries, review systems, laws and regulations at the same time, and push one-stop administrative services for improved efficiency of the administration and reduced burden on people and companies. In this case, a planned investment for the introduction of IT according to the mid- and long-term schedules must also be carried out.

In the meantime, for digitization of local governments, the central government must provide full support with a particular emphasis on the creation of environments such as legal frameworks, including construction of an information and telecommunications infrastructure.

2) In parallel with digitization of the administration, digitization in other public areas is expected to improve convenience of everyday life and lead to explosive diffusion of IT in the entire society and economy.In particular, the utilization of the Internet will improve accessibility of the people to public services. Also, as the people's needs can be accurately collected, new public services may be created.

For this purpose, in line with the Basic Guidelines on the Promotion of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Society (adopted in February 1995 and revised in November 1998), each ministry and agency formulated a guideline describing targets, mid-range policies and their implementation plans in respective fields. Based on those guidelines, steady progress toward those targets has been seen. For instance, in some cultural, welfare and other fields, information databases have been created and networking has also been implemented. In other fields, satisfactory results such as telemedicine using IT, weather observation based on satellites, etc. have been achieved.

In order for all the people to enjoy a more improved quality of life, R&D shall be continuously promoted to make use of IT and provide high quality services in these public areas involving frequent contacts with the people. Also, an advanced information and telecommunications infrastructure as well as leading applications shall be actively introduced to enrich those services.

<Major indicators concerning the level of digitization of the administration and of utilization of IT in public areas>

- Number of online administrative procedures in the central government, including those for application and notification: 1.2% of 10,541 (as of September 2000)

- Number of websites opened by national administrative organs: 874 (as of March 2000)

- Number of websites opened by local governments: 66.4% of 3,299 bodies (as of April 2000)

- Status of PC deployment in national administrative organizations: 1 PC for every 1.4 persons (as of April 2000)

- Status of PC deployment in local governments: 1 PC for every 2.0 persons (as of April 2000)

2. Significance of Policy Measures

Digitization of the administration will enable administrative procedures at national and local governments to be conducted without any geographic or time constraints, thus contributing to increased comfort and convenience for the people and revitalization of industry activities. In fact, it will make administrative services accessible for principally 24 hours a day over the Internet from home or office, resulting in drastic improvement of convenience for the people and private businesses.

In particular, national administrative bodies will promote reforms of administrative work, projects and organizations, and make a shift from "paper-based" information management to the network-based electronic information management, while taking ensuring of security into account, through digitization of the administration. Thus, the government will realize a highly computerized administration, or an "electronic government (e-government)," as explained below.

Major items Picture in FY2003
Provision of administrative information by electronic means - It will be made possible to electronically obtain press-released documents and other administrative information, including the one on organization and duties of administrative organs, laws and regulations falling within their jurisdiction, plans and performance of measures and projects, reports and statistical survey results of which release on the official gazette is made compulsory, and reports from advisory councils, easily, basically 24 hours a day, from their websites, separately from the paper-based information.
Electronic filing (application, notification, etc.) - It will be made possible to file substantially all applications and notifications from home or office, basically 24 hours a day. Example: Procedures related to national tax declaration, telecommunications business, trade management, and trucking/shipping/ air service.
Electronic procedures for revenues and expenditures - It will be possible to pay handling charges for application and notification procedures, taxes, etc. via the Internet.
Electronic procurement - Tendering and bid opening via the Internet will be possible (primarily by FY2004 for public works).
Paperless (electronic information) - By using the office and ministries' LANs and the Kasumigaseki WAN, practically all the current paper-based distribution of deliberations of laws and regulations, notification of various conferences, and administration- related documents (circulars) will be made electronically (paperless).
Note: The central government must provide necessary support to local governments.

The promotion of digitization of various public services to the private sector, including health, medical care, welfare, culture, transportation, disaster prevention, etc. is expected to bring about improvement in quality of national life as a whole, through the provision of diversified and high-quality public services.

Also, the utilization of these services may enable the people to voluntarily form networks and participate in the administration, community and social activities, which can lead them to satisfaction in a real sense.

In addition, if many people experience the benefits of IT as something readily accessible in various fields, such as using information stored at libraries and museums from home or getting various kinds of information including a video from a moving car, it may exert far-reaching effects upon introducing IT into the whole nation. Particularly, digitization in these public areas, which are closely related to daily lives of the people, will contribute to the improvement of information literacy of all, correcting the digital divide.

Also, in order to achieve these targets, the central government will provide required support to local governments while keeping close collaboration with them.

3.Priority Policies

1) Digitization of the Administration

i) Digitization of administrative services to the people and businesses

By enabling the people and businesses to have access to various administrative information and to make use of easy file application, notification and other procedures via the Internet, the administration that handles electronic information in the same way as paper-based information will be realized. For this purpose, electronic delivery of administrative information and online handling of application, notification and other procedures will be implemented rapidly and with priority, in order to contribute to the improvement of convenience for the people, etc. as well as simplify and improve efficiency and transparency of administrative management.

a) Electronic delivery of administrative information (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

In early FY2001, each office and ministry will formulate an intensive action plan for the period from FY2001 through FY2003, in line with the "Framework for Electronic Delivery of the Administrative Information (Guideline)," adopted in March 2001 by the "Inter-Ministerial Council for Promoting the Digitization of Public Administration."

<Outline of the "Framework for Electronic Delivery Administrative Information (Guideline)" >

- Information delivery, in principle, at websites of the office and ministries of information on various administrative activities, information conducive to the effective utilization for the public, and information obliged by statute to be made public

- Improvement of convenience through enrichment of whereabouts information and a browsing function across office and ministries from a webpages (information clearinghouse)

- Timely provision of information and updating of content provided

- Improvement of information provision in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-access manner

- Ensuring of two-way information distribution between the people and the administration

b) Electronic filing (application, notification and other procedures)

Practically all the application, notification and other procedures between the people and the administration will be made available over the Internet at the earliest possible time by FY2003.

When application, notification and other procedures go online (electronic filing), each office and ministry shall set up the appropriate unit price of handling charges, while reducing administrative costs involved in it.

(i) Each office and ministry will review its own existing action plan from the standpoints of i) moving up the schedule for introducing electronic filing of individual procedures, ii) drastically reexamining the procedures themselves, for instance, streamlining, and iii) digitizing related clerical works. Then, each office and ministry will formulate a new action plan in early FY2001. (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

(ii) To ensure attainment of electronic filing targeted by FY2003, the following items will be promoted:

- Each office and ministry will establish a common infrastructure system for electronic filing, consisting of the Cabinet Office/Ministries Certification Authority and a "General-purpose Acceptance System," which can be utilized for accepting various procedures and notification of the results thereof by FY2002. (All the office and ministries)

- Accordingly, by early FY2001, basic specifications will be established at the Inter-Ministerial Council for Promoting the Digitization of Public Administration, regarding those required to coordinate across the office and ministries for consistency, when constructing the "General-purpose Acceptance System." (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

(iii) Each office and ministry will make the best effort to establish an electronic filing system for individual procedures by FY2002. (All the office and ministries)

(iv) The following measures will be taken for one-stop services

- MPHPT, from FY2001, will commence operations of a general reception system (information clearinghouse system) on the web, capable of retrieving web-based information across the office and ministries, including procedural information on electronic filing (application, notification and other procedures) as well as application forms, etc. The people will be able to access to application/acceptance systems of administrative procedures in the office and ministries through this general reception system by FY2003. (MPHPT)

- For import/export and harbor-related procedures, a study framework to deliberate on methods of enabling efficient sharing and utilization of information through networks across the relevant office and ministries will be created within FY2001. To do this, documents submitted to date, including statistical information, will be thoroughly reviewed to implement standardization, combine or eliminate documents overlapped among the office and ministries and paperwork hitherto required for mere reference information. Also, the consolidation of application formats will be considered. In addition, the Nippon Automated Cargo Clearance System (NACCS)1 and the Harbor EDI system2 will be connected within around FY2001. The NACCS and the Japan Electronic Open Network Trade Control System (JETRAS)3 based on the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law will be cooperated by around FY2002; and the NACCS, the Harbor EDI system and the Crew Landing Permit Support System (tentative name)4 will be cooperated by around FY2002. Moreover, as part of efforts for electronic import/export procedures that are slated for completion by FY2003, the utilization of storage infrastructures (warehousing facilities) in the private sector and the feasibility for connection of the import/export procedures declaration/application/reception systems with privately owned systems concerning electronic procedures for trade will be studied. (MOF, MOJ, MHLW, MAFF, METI and MLIT)

- For procedures relating to the ownership of automobiles5, efforts will be made for the target of making one-stop services operational through electronic procedures in around CY2005. Accordingly, by taking into account the financial situation of local governments, specific regions will be designated for field trials of the system by around CY2003. (MLIT and the relevant office and ministries)

c) Digitization of procedures for government procurement

Through digitization of government procurement procedures to allow easy access to procurement information via websites of each office and ministry and enable electronic tendering and bid opening based on Internet technologies, the relevant office and ministries will endeavor to alleviate burden on businesses, simplify and streamline administrative work.

(i) Government procurement except public works (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

The government will launch operations by FY2001 of an integrated government procurement information database, in which web-based procurement information at each office and ministry is consolidated, and introduce electronic tendering and bid opening based on Internet technologies by FY2003.

(ii) Government procurement for public works (MLIT and the relevant office and ministries)

In October 2001, web-based electronic tendering and bid opening will be started for part of projects under direct control of the office and ministries. In principle, electronic tendering and bid opening will be introduced for projects under ministerial jurisdiction by FY2004. In addition, for MLIT, the Continuous Acquisition and Life-cycle Support/Electronic Commerce system (CALS/EC)6 will be built by FY2004.

d) Electronic management of revenues and expenditures (MOF and all the office and ministries)

Through electronic management of revenues and expenditures, the government will alleviate the burden on the people and improve their convenience.

For payment of revenues/national taxes and transfer of expenditures/national tax refund, provided that such systems are operational at the Bank of Japan and other financial institutions, necessary systems will be made operational by FY2003 to enable payment and online transfer over the Internet, etc.

e) Support for local governments in their digitization endeavors

To ensure that all the people can benefit from IT, local governments, which are close to inhabitants, will have to play an important role. Thus, the central government will support local governments in their efforts by clearly identifying urgent tasks and support measures for them.

(i) To ensure that municipalities (cities, towns and villages) can promote measures for digitization of themselves, support functions such as collecting/providing information, advising, training and raising awareness will be expanded within FY2001. In addition, support measures will be considered to enable local governments to smoothly introduce electronic management of revenues/expenditures and bidding procedures in keeping pace with the implementation schedule of the central government. (MPHPT)

(ii) Upon making local governments' administrative services available online, the relevant office and ministries will formulate action plans in early FY2001 concerning the proposal of standard specifications for individual procedures and the timing of revision of laws and ordinances, based on requests from local governments and the people. (MPHPT and the relevant office and ministries)

(iii) In addition to the support for building the authentication infrastructure for organizations and individuals at local governments, basic specifications of a "General-purpose System," which can be used for multiple procedures including acceptance of applications and notifications, delivery of notices of results, etc., will be established within FY2001. (MPHPT and the relevant office and ministries)

ii) Digitization of administrative work and projects

Administrative operations will be simplified and their efficiency increased by realizing operations, in principle, based on electronic information throughout an entire lifecycle of documents, while reviewing clerical work operating procedures and related rules associated with documents generated and collected on a daily basis.

For this purpose, operations will be intensively reviewed for the purpose of sharing/utilizing information over information networks and rendering the administrative work paperless, especially clerical tasks common to the office and ministries. Furthermore, the government will prepare IT equipment as an infrastructure for the paperless, network such equipment, create a database of sharable information, and improve literacy of the staff who use them.

a) Paperless (electronic information)

By promoting rapid decision-making, streamlined/efficient clerical work, alongside with a review of operations, and providing a comprehensive/wide-area network that connects national administrative organs with local governments, the collection, transfer, sharing and processing of information among the individual administrative bodies will be digitized.

(i) In line with the "Action Plan for Paperless Administrative Clerical Work (adopted by the Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society Promotion Headquarters in December 1999), 57 items of clerical work that was identified to be made paperless across the office and ministries, such as "communications/notifications" and "information sharing," shall be converted to paperless by FY2002. (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

(ii) Along with the action for paperless, each office and ministry shall establish document management rules, etc. concerning storage/management of electronic information and access control, etc. within FY2001 to properly manage/share electronic information. (All the office and ministries)

(iii) Regarding official reporting among office and ministries, those authorities that are responsible for being reported shall reach a conclusion on how to make it paperless by FY2002, and implement it by FY2003. (Relevant office and ministries)

(iv) A network connecting LANs of headquarters of the office and ministries with LANs of regional bureaus and branch offices will be accomplished by FY2003. (All the office and ministries)

(v) As regards the Local Government WAN (LG WAN) that connects all local governments, all prefectures and designated cities are requested to be connected by FY2001, and all municipalities by FY2003. In addition, the interconnection between the LG WAN and the Kasumigaseki WAN will be implemented from FY2002. (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

b) Improvement of information literacy among the staff and their mindset reform

In the IT society, the clerical work that has been based on face-to-face contact or paper documents within an administrative body or between administrative bodies and the people, will go online, enabling all such work to be done over information networks. Thus, it is necessary to improve information literacy among the staff and reform their mindset.

(i) MPHPT will review and improve the "Training of Information Systems" within FY2001 regarding common issues across the office and ministries, in order to develop core personnel in charge of digitization and intensify activities to raise awareness for information literacy among the staff. (MPHPT)

(ii) Each office and ministry will review its staff training plan within FY2001 along with a progress made in digitization of the administration, and raise awareness of the staff members to the fullest on this issue. (All the office and ministries)

iii) Others

a) Review of laws and ordinances

(i) The Cabinet Secretariat, in cooperation with the relevant office and ministries, will establish basic guidelines concerning the review of laws and ordinances in accordance with the introduction of electronic filing systems for applications, notifications and other procedures in early FY2001. (Cabinet Secretariat and the relevant office and ministries)

(ii) Each office and ministry will review the laws and ordinances within FY2001, in line with the above basic guidelines and new action plans. (MPHPT and all the office and ministries)

b) Promotion of outsourcing

The government shall actively promote outsourcing to cope efficiently and effectively with further expanding operations related to information systems and with advancing technologies.

(i) In line with the "Promotion of outsourcing of operations concerning information systems in national administrative organs" (adopted by the Inter-Ministerial Council of Government Information Systems in March 2000), each office and ministry will, in early FY2001, clearly specify priority operations, that the staff in charge shall conduct by themselves, among all of those concerning information systems, and implement outsourcing of the rest in a well-planned and emphasized manner during the period up to FY2003. (All the office and ministries)

(ii) MPHPT will follow up on the progress of outsourcing in each office and ministry, and release the results. (MPHPT)

c) IC card (Cabinet Secretariat and the relevant office and ministries)

In order to improve convenience of the people and reduce administrative costs, the idea of storing multiple pieces of information in the IC card that is issued from administrative organs will be studied, except for those cards such as driver's licenses, that are studied for ensuring international harmonization. To this end, the relevant office and ministries will jointly study such possibilities from the aspects of regulatory frameworks, technology, costs, convenience and security, and formulate basic specifications at the earliest possible time within FY2001.

d) Formulation and widespread use of evaluation indicators concerning the system development (METI and the relevant office and ministries)

To popularize systems development/procurement, backed up with experiences, matching an IT society, a "Process Indicators' Model for Development and Procurement of Software"7 will be formulated within FY2001. Moreover, from the standpoint of promoting further competition, a study will be carried out to promptly introduce and popularize such procurement methods that reflect characteristics of software by, for instance, utilizing the above models.

e) Clarification of necessary expenses and effects of major projects, and release of the evaluation results of actual progress thereof to the public (All the office and ministries)

Beginning in the summer of 2001 at the time when making a budget request and a draft budget, from the standpoints i) to ensure improvement of transparency/reliability of the administration, ii) to precisely manage the progress concerning digitization of the administration, and iii) to effectively and efficiently implement related measures, each office and ministry will clearly explain the expenses and effects of major projects for an electronic government over two or more fiscal years, making reference to the "Standard Guidelines for Policy Evaluation," adopted in January 2001 by the Liaison Conference for Policy Evaluation. Subsequently, each office and ministry will evaluate the progress of them, and make the results public every fiscal year.

1 NACCS: A system for online processing of customs procedures concerning the international freight. It consists of two different systems, i.e., the airfreight customs clearance information system (Air-NACCS) and the ocean marine cargo customs clearance information system (Sea-NACCS).

2 Harbor EDI system: A system for online processing of administrative procedures, such as those for application and notification, as associated with the port manager and harbormaster

3 JETRAS (Japan Electronic open network TRAde control system): This is an export/import permission and approval system that is based on the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law. It uses an open network for online processing of the trade management work in general, including aid in application for export/import permit and declaration to customs.

4 Crew Landing Permit Support System (tentative name): A system for online processing of administrative procedures, such as application concerning crew landing permission

5 Procedures relating to the ownership of automobiles: Various administrative procedures accompanying the ownership of automobiles such as inspection, registration, parking certificate and tax payment.

6 CALS/EC: A system capable of digitizing various information generated in the overall lifecycle of public works (study/planning, design, bidding, execution of work and maintenance) and exchanging/sharing the information efficiently by using networks

7 Process Indicators' Model for Development and Procurement of Software: Models that integrate such evaluation indicators as design and maintenance of software, as well as methods necessary for successful procurement thereof

2) Other Public Areas

i) Digitization in the science/technology and academic fields

The construction of an information infrastructure for science/technology and academic information will be promoted to create and maintain the world's highest level of research environment for further advancement of research standards and to provide information promptly and adequately to researchers from industry, academia and governments.

a) Construction of the Super SINET (MEXT)

The Super SINET (Super Science Information Network), which connects research institutions at the maximum speed of 10Gbps, will be built at five national universities and six inter-university research institutions within FY2001, and at a total of 25 to 30 universities and research institutions throughout the nation by FY2005.

b) Construction of ITBL (IT-based Laboratory) for virtual research (MEXT and the relevant office and ministries)

To realize technological innovation in various leading-edge technology fields by introducing IT into R&D, a virtual research environment, ITBL, will be built by FY2005, that enables the state-of-the-art simulation, etc. through shared use of supercomputers among all laboratories in the nation via a large-capacity network.

c) Creation and sophistication of various databases required for R&D (MEXT)

The integrated digital content retrieval system will be created within FY2001, which enables researchers to easily and rapidly retrieve large-scale, complex research information being connected to networks.

ii) Digitization in the art and culture fields

In response to the enhancement and diversification of the people's interest in culture, an environment will be provided to enable retrieval and use of information on various cultural assets, artworks, community culture and theatrical arts, without any geographic constraint. Thus, the integrated culture information system will be provided. (MEXT)

By FY2005, information databases of cultural assets and artworks preserved in national museums as well as on performances at the National Theater of Japan and national/public cultural facilities will be created to offer information from the websites of those relevant institutions. Furthermore, by networking these databases with municipal and private museums, etc., the common indexing system will be created for information on arts stored.

iii) Digitization in the health, medical care and welfare fields

The government will promote to improve the quality and efficiency of services in the field of medical care through digitization, and meet the new service needs, such as those for telemedicine with the use of IT. Furthermore, a barrier-free environment, which is gentle on everybody, will be prepared by developing and popularizing information and telecommunications equipment/systems that are made under the universal design concept for everyone, including the elderly and people with disabilities.

To this end, digitization in this field will be promoted.

a) To offer diverse and high-quality medical care services with improved efficiency, the strategic grand design will be formulated by early FY2001. The grand design will describe measures and targets for popularizing digitization of medical care, such as digitization of various medical information like electronic charts, promotion of telemedicine, and computerization of review and payment of receipts. (MHLW)

b) Electronic charts will be standardized by FY2003 by developing the format of electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic means of information interchange and information security technologies. The ordering system, that is, digitized medical information interchanges across medication, inspection and medical clerical work sections, as a basis of electronic charts, will be introduced to hospitals at the targeted rate of 20% thereof by FY2005. (MHLW, METI)

iv) Digitization in employment field

By offering timely employment information, an environment with better employment opportunities will be created.

For this purpose, an employment information system will be created through the joint initiatives between the public and private sectors. (MHLW)

An information system will be provided within FY2001 for job seekers, so that they can browse and retrieve indexed job opportunities information held by private employment agencies, private job opportunities information providers, economic organizations, Public Employment Security Offices, etc. and can access the websites of private businesses.

v) Promotion of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) will be promoted, which are to engineer a solution against road transportation problems, such as traffic jams, traffic accidents and environmental deterioration, by connecting the people, roads and vehicles as an integrated system through the use of leading-edge information and telecommunications technologies. Besides, R&D on key technologies for the promotion of ITS will also be expedited.

a) Enhancement of road traffic information provision (NPA, MPHPT and MLIT)

i) As for the Vehicle Information and Communication System (VICS) that can display traffic jams, traffic control and other road traffic information on the screen of a car-mounted navigation system, the service will start in virtually all parts of the nation within FY2002.

ii) Necessary regulatory reforms will be made within CY2001, such as submitting of a bill to amend the Road Traffic Law, so that private businesses will be allowed to edit and process road traffic data for providing it as highly value-added information. In addition, optical beacons (infrared two-way communications equipment for the Universal Traffic Management Systems (UTMS) that provide/collect traffic information) will be installed by FY2005 to cover most of the major open roads in urban areas.

b) Promotion of driving support systems (MPHPT and MLIT)

R&D on driving support technologies, which provide drivers with necessary information, warning and operational instructions, will be promoted, so that the support systems will be put into practical use on the 2nd Tomei and Meishin Expressways by around CY2003.

c) Promotion of the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system (MLIT)

The ETC service for general users will be expanded to major tollgates throughout the nation within FY2002, and within five years or so, toll payment methods will be limited only to ETC on expressways in urban areas.

d) Promotion of international standardization of ITS technologies (NPA, MPHPT, METI and MLIT)

For the next five years in which a real progress of ITS is expected, efforts will be made for international standardization of various ITS technologies by proposing vehicle travel support systems, narrow-band communications (DSRC)8 systems, etc. to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), while keeping up efforts of strengthening international competitiveness of the ITS-related industries.

vi) Digitization in the environmental field

To cope with global environmental problems, environmental information will be provided to the public, etc. in an easy-to-understand manner to encourage their voluntary environmental protection activities and, at the same time, the use of environmental monitoring technologies will be promoted.

a) Creation of a comprehensive environmental information database (MOE)

MOE will create a comprehensive environmental information database, and provide information to the people and businesses via the Internet in an easy-to-understand manner by FY2003. Such an information database will, for instance, include a system that collects information possessed by the central government, local governments and the private sector, and centrally controls emission of greenhouse gases.

b) Introduction of the environmental monitoring system utilizing artificial satellites, etc. (MOE)

To prevent environmental pollution, the environmental monitoring technology and the illegal dumping detection systems utilizing artificial satellites will be developed by FY2003.

c) Realization of global environmental changes forecast using the world's fastest computer (MEXT)

The earth simulator, which offers the world's fastest computing and enables forecast of global-scale environmental changes, such as global warming and abnormal weather conditions, will be operational in FY2001, so that a highly accurate global environmental changes forecast will be realized by FY2005.

vii) Promotion of Geographical Information Systems (MLIT, MPHPT, MAFF, METI and the relevant office and ministries)

Under the cooperation between the public and private sectors, while ensuring consistency with the international rules, GIS will be promoted to put geographical information in order, construct a mechanism of distribution and use of such information via the Internet by around FY2003. In addition, the standardization of geographical information will be promoted i) to streamline and improve efficiency of administrative fields such as disaster prevention, urban planning, traffic, environment, education, and private operations, ii) to create new business methods, and iii) to sophisticate and diversify national life.

a) Digitization and provision of geographical information

By looking into legal aspects concerning the use of electronic geographical information, electronic data for the 1:25000 topographic maps will be prepared within FY2001; and its provision over the Internet will be started by FY2002. At the same time, while encouraging effective use of such data currently being in the possession of private businesses, digitization and provision of such geographical information relating to roads, city blocks, rivers, seas, etc. will be promoted. In addition, by FY2003, the expansion of registered content, etc. to the Geospatial Data Clearinghouse9 will be realized; and specifications such as data structures will be standardized as JIS to enhance retrieval functions.

b) Solutions for technical problems

Various technical problems will be resolved, including i) establishment of JIS standards for G-XML in early FY2001 (a communications protocol for distributing geographical information over the Internet); ii) proposals of it to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) within FY2003; iii) development of key technologies for 3-D GIS within FY2001; and iv) development of a web mapping system (a system enabling the use of GIS functions over the Internet) within FY2003.

viii) Digitization in disaster prevention field

In order to create a society in which the people can safely live, by ensuring rapid collection/ transmission of information for disaster prevention, a highly advanced information and telecommunications system will be built that interlinks the central government, local governments, and residents.

a) Development of a comprehensive disaster prevention information system (Cabinet Office)

Various types of disaster prevention information will be standardized to create a nationwide database; and a system enabling shared use of the information among disaster prevention organizations and the people will be prepared by FY2003.

b) Construction of a volcanic disaster prevention system (Cabinet Office)

Through the utilization of digital volcanic hazard maps10, a volcanic disaster prevention system will be built by FY2003, enabling designation of a dangerous region and display of evacuation routes in quick response to the status of volcanic activity.

c) Development of a disaster damage tracking system using artificial satellites (Cabinet Office)

A system that keeps track of disaster information quickly and accurately by using images sent from artificial satellites will be built by FY2003 for use in disaster prevention activities.

d) Sophistication of national land management (MLIT)

At points of critical importance for disaster prevention purposes, a disaster information network comprising a monitoring equipment, information provision equipment, information networks, etc. will be established by FY2003 to enable remote control and monitoring of land conservation facilities. In addition, the government will ensure disaster prevention, damage control and safety by enabling crisis avoidance behaviors, including positive disaster prevention activities and evacuation through prompt and accurate sharing/provision of information.

8 Dedicated Short-Range Communications system: A radio communications system used in restricted space

9 Geospatial Data Clearinghouse: A system with a database on whereabouts information of geographic information, having a search function

10 Digital volcanic hazard maps: An electronic form of disaster prevention information, including simulation of pyroclastic/lava flows, and actual disasters occurred in the past by volcanic eruptions.

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